Embrace chaos with a heart of gold. These heroes stand up for the downtrodden and fight against oppressive regimes because it’s the right thing to do.
Although fans may not realize it, these stalwart heroes fit neatly into the Dungeons & Dragon character alignment system, embodying chaotic good.
What Are Dungeons & Dragons Character Alignments?
Dungeons & Dragons works on a system of character traits. The alignments give players ground rules for building characters in the tabletop game. As “nerd” culture exploded in popularity, these tropes became helpful ways to describe characters in all kinds of fiction, from comics to movies to video games.
Think of the alignments as two axes. The “x” axis represents a character’s attitudes towards law, from lawful to chaotic. Lawful characters seek to follow the law, neutral characters don’t care, and chaotic characters think of the law as a hindrance. The “Y” axis represents morality. Characters can be either good, evil, or neutral.
The chaotic good alignment is a popular character archetype many recognize in their favorite fictional heroes.
What Does it Mean to Be Chaotic Good?
Dungeons & Dragons’ chaotic good alignment showcases heroes who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to do the right thing.
The characters falling under chaotic good are genuinely good people. They always do what they believe is right, regardless of consequences or laws.
Ashley Wright from Gypsy Gameschooler calls chaotic goods characters “the sort of person that has a moral code.” She says they’re overall morally good, but their moral code doesn’t always align with their society’s legal code.
Long-time D&D player DiMatteo Luca says, “Individuals who lean towards the Chaotic Good alignment believe in doing what’s right but are not bound by order, rules, or laws. They’re the rebels of the D&D universe, following their heart and are not afraid to upend societal norms to achieve their goals.”
Chaotic goods tend to see laws as oppressive and think that the right thing is abolishing most laws so that people can be free to choose their own paths.
Mike Millerson, founder of Survive Nature, says the alignment represents the type of freedom associated with noble intentions. They think laws are restrictive because they believe in humanity’s capacity for good and assume that most people will do the right thing if given a chance.
D&D player and coffee connoisseur Tim Lee says everyone loves chaotic good characters because “there’s something easily likable about characters who don’t care much for the rules but are all about helping the little guy.’
Chaotic good characters represent freedom and morality. They embody the very best of humanity, though their methods in the quest for the greater good may cause harm.
Chaotic Good Ideals
Chaotic goods value freedom and personal liberty. They believe people are ultimately good and will do the right thing if given the opportunity. In addition, they believe that most laws are oppressive and take away an individual’s right to choose their destiny.
Characters falling under the chaotic good alignment aren’t just in it for themselves. They want to do the right thing and help people become the best versions of themselves.
Luca says chaotic good characters won’t hesitate to break laws in their quest for good. These freedom fighters will stand up against tyranny wherever it lurks and work towards dismantling unjust systems.
Remi Alli, JD, MS of Brāv Online Conflict Management, says they have a strong desire to help people and promote freedom, but they don’t typically have a plan for an organized justice system. They value individuality, often acting on intuition or emotion, and trust their strong moral code above society’s.
You often find chaotic good characters fighting against a corrupt government or standing up for the little guy. Alli says they often rebel against tyranny and work to dismantle unjust systems. However, their ultimate goal is to benefit others, promoting freedom and well-being for all.
Luca reminds us that although chaotic goods don’t mind breaking the rules, they’re typically not reckless. “They’re not anarchists but rather principled individuals who are not afraid to challenge the status quo,” he says.
Personality Traits of Chaotic Good Characters
Although numerous chaotic good characters have various motives and traits, you will typically find a few similarities. Chaotic good characters tend to be:
- Free-Spirited – Want to live life on their own terms
- Independent – Don’t want to be told what to do
- Unpredictable – Will do whatever it takes to achieve their results
- Righteous – They have a strong sense of what’s right and will stand up for it
- Good – They follow their conscience but genuinely believe their actions are good
- Altruistic – They strive to help others in all they do
The personality traits of chaotic good characters meld together to form someone who values liberty for all. They’re fundamentally good people who fight oppression, stand up for people who can’t stand for themselves, and promote the general well-being of society.
Chaz Egnew, a TikToker obsessed with D&D and gaming in general, says it’s also a popular alignment for “characters who may not know their place in the world but who want to be free to do the right thing even if it’s against societal norms.”
How to Play a Chaotic Good Character
Chaotic good is the alignment of choice for many D&Ders who want to play good guys but don’t want to worry about any lawful restrictions associated with “good guys.”
Wright says some players choose chaotic good out of laziness.
“Most people can tell the difference between good and evil but don’t want to be bothered to keep track of legalities,” she says.
However, she feels that people who play this way aren’t getting the most out of the game or their character. “If a player can decide what motivates their character, what is influencing their moral compass, they can do a much better job. What do they consider “good”?”
Wright also says a detailed backstory can help players answer some of those questions and provide a framework for decision-making.
Here are some other ideas for playing a chaotic good character:
Consider the Greater Good
Chaotic good characters don’t always behave “good” in the moment. Lee says they may even appear selfish sometimes, but remember all their actions align with the greater good.
“Sometimes you have to play a bit dirty to make sure the good guys win,” he admits. “You might throw someone under the bus if it means saving everyone else. This unpredictability makes the game fun and takes everyone for a wild ride.”
Stick up for the Weak
A chaotic good character cares about everyone around them, especially the oppressed or weakened. Millerson says that to play a chaotic good, you must be willing to stick up for these folks, even if it means risking your own life.
Make the Tough Decisions
You can seldom win a war without casualties. Lawful goods can’t stomach the tough decisions, but chaotic goods can.
You may find yourself in a situation that involves sacrificing yourself or a friend for the benefit of all society. While lawful and neutral goods may try to find ways for everyone to win, the chaotic good understands that’s not always possible. They’ll make those hard choices to win the war.
Kitchen Range and D&D expert Steven Perez says chaotic goods have their own personal ethics, which most people would consider “good.” They care deeply for others, embrace empathy, and stand up for their beliefs.
They may be seen as unpredictable because they follow personal ethics rather than the rule of law. However, they typically have an internal compass guiding their actions, and when you can flesh that out, you have a roadmap of how the character will act in most situations.
Good On Your Own
Jeremy Walker from Goblin Crafted has a different way of playing. He says the chaotic good alignment is excellent for players who want to do the right thing but struggle when working with others.
“Chaotic Good is the alignment of choice for rebels, rogues, and swashbucklers,” he says, as long as these characters want what’s best for the world.
The freedom lover turns away from human companionship in the quest for an ideal world full of liberty for all. They’re comfortable standing on the sidelines, watching from afar as the world celebrates their freedom, never knowing that the chaotic good character’s sacrifices won the day.
Most Important Rule for Playing Chaotic Good
The main point to remember when playing a chaotic good character is they will follow their conscience rather than the law when making decisions. They view laws as unimportant at best and oppressive at worst.
The crucial thing in a chaotic good’s mind is right versus wrong.
Play a chaotic good character as if there is no law. Let your conscience be your primary guide in all the decisions you make. Do the right thing, regardless of the rule of law.
Character Classes and Races that Tend Toward Chaotic Good
Although you can build your character however you want, a few character classes and races tend towards the chaotic good alignment. A class is a character’s job, such as a cleric or barbarian. Class defines your character’s role in the party. The character’s race, such as elf, devil, or dwarf, gives them specific skills, abilities, and tendencies.
Wright, Luca, and Millerson all say Rogues are perfect chaotic good characters.
Luca says Rogues (and bards) are predisposed toward freedom of expression and individuality, while Ashely says she uses her Rogue’s stealth skills to sneak into places she’s not supposed to be in.
Millerson agrees with Bards and Rogues, saying they “are typical classes that tend toward chaotic good alignments given their emphasis on adaptability, a knack for improvisation, and distaste for convention.
Engew says half-elves and halflings tend toward chaotic good, and Luca agrees, adding Half-Orcs to the miss. “Their inherent conflict between their human and orcish natures often leads them to question societal norms,” he says.
Other races that tend to align with chaotic good include copper dragons, unicorns, a variety of elves, and humans.
Examples of Chaotic Good Characters in Fiction
It’s important to remember that most fictional characters don’t fall neatly into a character alignment. Great works of fiction have characters that grow and develop, make bad choices, and learn from those choices. A character who maintains their alignment throughout a show or movie ends up being one-dimensional and rather bland.
However, some fictional characters make great examples of chaotic good, even if they don’t fit the mold 100%.
Edgar Friendly from Demolition Man
Demolition Man is an old action-comedy from the 1990s but has one of the best portrayals of a chaotic good character in fiction.
“You see, according to Cocteau’s plan, I’m the enemy ’cause I like to think; I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech and freedom of choice.”
Edgar Friendly is the hesitant leader of the underground rebels. His group rejected San Angeles’s strict regime of law and order, where anything considered unhealthy (salt, physical contact) was deemed illegal. He never wanted to lead but stepped up when the group saw him as a leader.
Friendly chose to live in the sewers where he could be free rather than live in an oppressive regime. He broke the rules to feed his people, stealing and pillaging food when they needed it. When the opportunity arose, he didn’t hesitate to join the battle against society because he knew that rules restricting people’s ability to choose their path were inherently wrong.
Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
There is a lot of argument in the Buffy fandom about where Rupert Giles falls on the Dungeons and Dragons Character alignment system, but his actions on multiple occasions throughout the series show that he’s chaotic good.
Giles is righteous, and you’d probably consider him lawful good when you first meet him. He’s the stuffy school librarian, a member of the lawful Watcher’s Counsel, and constantly tells Buffy she needs to follow the rules of being a slayer.
Gile’s Chaotic Behavior Exposed
But when you look closer, you see that much of his behavior is questionable. He does what he thinks is right and uses the rules to do it if it suits him. However, he also has no problem breaking the rules for what he believes to be the greater good or if it’s the right thing to do.
In season 3, he loses his job with the Watcher’s Counsel for breaking their rules. He actively fights against the ways of the Watcher’s Counselor. In season 5, he has no qualms about using torture to get information and even kills an innocent man for the greater good.
His chaotic nature truly comes to the forefront in season 7 when he goes behind Buffy’s back to attempt to kill her biggest ally. In this case, Buffy, as the leader of an army, is considered “the law,” and Giles works against the law to do what he feels is right.
Although we only glimpse Giles’ youth as “Ripper,” we can infer that he was chaotic neutral back then, doing what he wanted and rebelling against authority. We don’t know how or when he turned into a stuffy librarian, but it’s fair to say his chaotic side didn’t disappear; it was only reigned in.
A case could be made for Giles to fall under neutral good. He does obey the laws when he feels they should be followed. He provides a wonderful example of a complex fictional character that doesn’t fall neatly into a character alignment box.
Ashely says Batman is an excellent example of chaotic good. He fights the bad guys (and typically refuses to kill them), but he operates outside the law. His questionable tactics often leave a trail of chaos in his wake – broken bones, destroyed property, and an unambiguous breaking of the law.
If a policeman were to catch Batman during his escapades, he’d surely be arrested.
However, Batman works for the greater good. He’s a vigilante working to thwart his arch nemesis, the chaotic evil Joker, a task that’s too challenging for the lawful cops.
Character Alignments are Just a Guide
Character alignments give us a good baseline for how to play a particular character, but they aren’t the only consideration. A genuinely good character is capable of evil, just as evil characters can potentially do good things. Alignments are general rules of behavior that you should consider but don’t have to be strictly adhered to.