Saturday, February 28, 2015


neutral good [noo-truhl-good]
1. The alignment that does the best that a good person can do. This alignment works for the greater good by striving for a prosperous and happy life the community. They uphold the values of pragmatism, balance and compassion, while looking for a balance between freedom and order that will promote the best outcome for all.
2. Anything that falls within the perimeter of the neutral good alignment (see 1. above).

"Serving kings and magistrates but not being beholden to them" describes Gandalf the Grey (and "The White" for that matter), in all but name, when it was used as a descriptor of Neutral Good in the 3rd Edition Player's Handbook. He puts the greater good, in his case the defeat of Sauron and the welfare of Middle Earth, above any selfish desires and often against the authority of man and elf alike, and is one of the most beloved and quoted mentors in fantasy (the fantasy equivalent of Obi-Wan and Yoda).

Fair warning: Neutral Good is my alignment and I think it is the best alignment (if there is such a thing). So, expect me to have some bias but, hey, as the goody good balanced alignment, I'll try my best to be fair.

Switching gears for a moment to Star Trek, let's talk about the legendary trio of Kirk, Spock, and Mcoy.

In Freudian theory, the psyche is made up of three components: the ego, the superego, and the id, which represent the struggle between emotions and logic when it comes to making decisions. The id represents the emotional and instinctual desires, the superego represents reason and obedience to social norms, and the ego represents the conscious self that seeks to strike a balance between the other two components.

In Star Trek, Kirk (Neutral Good) is the Ego, while Spock is the Super Ego (Lawful Good) and Mcoy represents the Id (Chaotic Good) in a positive Freudian trio. Kirk is the more balanced of three, and is the natural leader (as well as the official one as the Captain), and weighs the advice of his two comrades in order to make command decisions that, ultimately, most often leads to the best outcome for all parties involved in the, mostly, enlightened future of Star Trek and the Federation. The downside of this role is that the heavy weight that making such decisions, many of which are life or death decisions for countless sentient beings, takes its toll on Kirk. But between his love of his career and the his sense of obligation to do good, Kirk persevered and became the most legendary and long-serving captains in Federation history, despite multiple attempts to retire him or promote him by the Federation.

These are also the strengths and weaknesses of the Neutral Good character in general-- they are pragmatic benefactors but, in having less ethical bias, their actions are dictated by personal choice and therefore the outcome, for better or worse, often weighs more heavily and more personally than good characters able to hoist the decision-making on the authority they obey or to abandon the decision altogether if it restricts them too much.

It isn't easy being a do-gooder. And arguably neutral good is the most do-good alignment.

"I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong." -Frederick Douglass

Also, more so than any other alignment, Neutral Good or "True Good" is the alignment that works for the greater good.

Neutral Good characters are not bound to a particular ethical bias but instead are bound to doing the most good; a neutral good character tries to do the most good for the most peoples in the right places at the right time in the right way by being flexible and pragmatic. They are not beholden to any higher authority or selfish agendas, but instead are beholden to the lives and freedoms of other people first.

Neutral good societies strive for a balance between harmony and freedom; they try to create a society where law and order exist to protect and promote the public welfare, as well as trying to allow for personal freedom of individuals, while creating a society that is vigilant of the abuses of authority over individuals and individuals against each other. Neutral good societies promote those that serve the people through professional and personal action.

Neutral good societies tend to be smaller since it is difficult to create balance in a larger society. Furthermore, due to their altruistic natures, neutral good characters are generally welcome in any sensible society, since they serve as natural problem solvers that are willing to compromise for the greater good (hence the nickname "mercenary good") and try to pick their battles wisely, since they know they can't fix every problem, and are less likely to butt heads with the local authorities.

A neutral good character must strike a balance to achieve the best results: they believe people should behave altruistically and attempt to meet the needs of their society and the individuals that make up their society. They are willing to ignore laws and curb freedoms that they believe are harmful to the greater good.

The greatest source of conflict for these characters is maintaining a balance that promotes the greater good and making decisions that promote the greater good. Choice is the neutral good character's greatest strength and greatest burden.

An example of a morality-ethics based conflict for a Neutral Good character is difficult to explain because of the Neutral Good character's flexibility. While the solution is often obvious or somewhat more straightforward for a LG or CG character, Neutral Good characters make their decisions based on the greater consequences of their actions. This doesn't mean they are likely to commit evil acts, but it does mean that they are less likely to take any decision lightly. Every mistake is their own-- they cannot fall back on following the law or following their heart, but instead must follow their head. Furthermore, their are neutral good characters that tend towards lawful solutions and some that tend towards chaotic solutions. But let's try an example from Gandalf's book:

A local king is over-taxing the citizens of a small town but he is using the funds to build a new fort. A Chaotic Good character would be opposed to the king's actions for his over-taxation and a Lawful Good character would probably be offended but might not necessarily oppose the king. A Neutral Good character would only wonder whether the king's actions were necessary for the greater good and try to find a solution that balances the welfare of the small town against the welfare that would come from building this new fort. If the new fort would stand in the way of a greater evil than taxation, he might overlook it but would probably search for an alternate solution that satisfied all parties to the best of his abilities. That is the struggle of NG heroes.

What are some examples of Neutral Good characters? Gandalf (of course), Harry Potter (and maybe Dumbledore), Spider-Man, Captain James T. Kirk, Goku, Wonder Woman, and Luke Skywalker.

So, why pick Neutral Good? Simple. You want to solve problems for the greater good by being proactive and pragmatic

Basically, you want to be a good person first.

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