This article will explain everything you should need to know in order to understand and play the Neutral Good alignment. Here’s an overview of what I’ll discuss:
- What is the Neutral Good alignment?
- How to play a Neutral Good aligned character?
- Neutral Good examples & background ideas
- And more!
With that said, let’s start with some definitions first.
What is Neutral Good?
Characters who are neutral on the Lawful ⇄ Chaotic spectrum maintain no particular affinity for the laws, norms, and values of “traditional” society. They don’t follow inconvenient rules, and they place their own success or goals ahead of supporting those of those around them.
However, they don’t tend to stir up unnecessary trouble or draw attention to themselves. These neutral characters find a balance between the two extremes, adhering to rules when it makes no difference, but diverging from them when they feel they need to.
Good characters are traditionally the heroes. Goodness represents altruism, compassion, and a general respect for life. Good characters are typically willing to help others, particularly those in need and for whom the cause is just, even at personal cost.
They will oppose evil on principle, not just when financially motivated. Their goodness may not be absolute, but it represents a general affinity for the dignity of others and a respect for those around them.
Neutral Good Definition
Neutral Good characters uphold traditionally “good” values by pursuing justice, respect, and righteousness. However, they feel as though rules, society, and “the system” often stand in the way of those pursuits, and tend to operate outside the law when they need to.
Neutral Good characters believe that the structure of society and tradition are not necessarily useless, but do feel that they are secondary to righteousness. They believe that the two are not necessarily correlated.
Neutral Good Character Examples
There are a great many Neutral Good characters in popular media. These characters are compelling because they remain sympathetic in that they ascribe to common values of what is good, and they pursue goodness. However, they are complex and flawed because they tend to do whatever it takes to achieve their aims, no matter how noble. Here are a variety of examples of Neutral Good characters.
Batman is a great example of a Neutral Good character. He follows the laws and its processes in his pursuit of criminals as he collects evidence and turns them into the police. Furthermore, he pursues those most would agree to be “evil” or “wrong.” However, he isn’t police—he acts outside the law in his apprehension of ne’er-do-wells. He destroys property, and himself commits crimes to get the job done. When he has a goal, no societal law, rule, or norm will stand in his way of justice.
Iron Man, similarly, is another Neutral Good hero. He consistently seeks to protect others and fight for justice, but he also tends to simply ignore rules and laws that inconvenience him. The only reason he isn’t hated for his indiscretions is because of the good he brings to society, and the problems he solves. However, his actions aren’t limited by crime-solving — he also pursues the advancement of technology in potentially harmful or unacceptable ways, with an ideally positive outcome.
Geralt of Rivia, and many Witchers, are perhaps the epitome of the Neutral Good alignment. He protects people, hunts terrible monsters, and will often help others on principle. However, society has ostracized him and his kind, and as such he feels many laws are more or less irrelevant to him. He will follow them when it’s convenient and when they don’t hinder him, but he doesn’t feel beholden to rules when they do.
Neutral Good Quotes
Neutral Good quotes are striking because they often, in many people’s view, “say what needs to be said.” You might find yourself agreeing with many of them, but especially taken out of context, Neutral Good characters can get easily get themselves into trouble. Here are some examples of Neutral Good quotes:
“I’ll do whatever it takes.”
“The ends justify the means.”
“When the system works, use it. When it doesn’t, … that’s what we are there for.”Batman
“Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling… makes no difference. The degree is arbitrary. The definitions blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another, I’d rather not choose at all.”Geralt of Rivia
“Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”Isaac Asimov
“Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days, governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”Dwight Eisenhower
“Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.”Abraham Lincoln
“If you can’t solve a problem, it’s because you’re playing by the rules.”Paul Arden
Neutral Good Character Background Ideas
Neutral Good characters usually emphasize and encourage justice and goodness. They are taught to respect other people, help them, and do what’s right. However, at some point, they’ve also become disillusioned with authority, rules, and society, and don’t feel the need to follow them on principle, especially when they get in the way of their other, more important values.
Your Neutral Good background should emphasize the event that caused this perspective. Following are three background examples for your inspiration.
Betrayed by the System
At first, you thought society and laws are there to protect you. You thought rules brought a meaningful structure to your life; they made you feel safe. But they failed. You were arrested wrongfully, or your partner’s killer walked free. You realized the system doesn’t work. Now you pursue justice and righteousness as fervently as before, but you do regardless of what the laws and rules dictate.
Player’s Handbook Background suggestion: Charlatan (page 128) or Criminal (page 127)
Either you grow up in a rural, isolated area, or in a distant land with different customs. You’re not used to the way things work here, and as you learn more about them, you decide you don’t like them. You follow the rules enough to get by, but you disregard the ones you disagree with. If anyone confronts you, you’re more than prepared to tell them why their rules are wrong, and why your way of doing things is right. After all, you both pursue the same things — the difference is, you actually get things done.
Player’s Handbook Background suggestion: Outlander (page 136) or Hermit (page 134)
Unlike many Neutral Good characters, you actually believe in, and respect the rules. You follow them when you can, and don’t particularly want to violate them. However, your values and principles surrounding goodness and morality are far too important to let laws get in the way. When faced with two choices — letting evil reign, or breaking rules — you’ll fight evil, every time. You’ll apologize profusely for your trespasses, but you’ll maintain that they were necessary.
Player’s Handbook Background suggestion: Folk Hero (page 131) or Soldier (page 140)
As you’ve seen, I’ve mentioned the Player’s Handbook several times. That’s because it’s an essential reference guide for every D&D player. If you don’t already have one, you can get one on Amazon.
Neutral Good Traits
There are a number of traits that help define Neutral Good characters. These characters tend to be very intense in their convictions. They are self-motivated, and strongly so; at least in their perspective, they are unerring. These traits can be positive, but expect them to get your character in trouble when faced with certain folks. Following are several examples for your inspiration.
Neutral Good characters are strongly self-motivated and often have unerring confidence. They believe the ends justify the means; therefore, if the outcome was positive, whatever they had to do to get there was necessary. They can easily justify morally reprehensible acts, so long as they were done in service of the greater good.
However, they can face internal and external conflict when the harm caused was disproportionate to the good done; they and others may take issue with their actions.
Quick to Act
Due process, deliberation, and slow decision-making is unnecessary in the eyes of Neutral Good characters. It’s a waste of time when they could just act and get the job done. They don’t need to consider the safest or smartest approach when they already know what they have to do. However, their hotheadedness and impatience can be problematic when they underestimate their foes or draw the ire of the authorities.
We usually associate teamwork and cooperation with structure and law. While Neutral Good characters aren’t averse to working with others, they’re comfortable going it alone as lone wolves when necessary. They know what needs to be done and how to do it, and others tend to slow them down, or else get in the way of their plan. This makes them decisive, but it’s often difficult to work with them when they actually need help.
You can always trust Neutral Good characters to do the right thing, as they are fiercely bonded to the ideas of good versus evil. However, others may feel betrayed when these characters take questionable actions in pursuit of those aims. Other good characters may disagree on what constitutes “justified” given the circumstances.
While they tend to believe the ends justify the means, most Neutral Good characters are reasonable in striking a balance between the two. A bread thief does not deserve to be hanged, for example, simply to get a criminal off the streets. They will not kill a dozen civilians simply to get at one murderer. Evildoers should expect these characters to hunt them doggedly. However, they should also expect fair and reasonable judgment once caught.
The principle of “doing what needs to be done” extends past infringing only upon others’ rights to get the job done. Neutral Good characters are excellent at making sacrifices. Given the choice between harming someone else and making a sacrifice, they’ll almost always choose to take one for the team, as it’s the easiest consequence to justify, and minimizes collateral damage.
How to Play a Neutral Good Character
Neutral Good characters are passionate and strong-headed about their ideals of right versus wrong. This makes them powerful and driven team members, but also makes it difficult to resolve conflict.
Neutral Good characters are often overconfident, cocky, and self-assured, but their ultimate goals revolve around justice and righteousness. They should be willing to make concessions in the pursuit of that aim.
What to Do?
There are a variety of things you can do to roleplay Neutral Good characters effectively:
- Do the right thing. This is the core tenet of the Neutral Good alignment, and everything else is secondary.
- Be honest, and upfront. Neutral Good characters rarely see fit to hide their intentions. They don’t lie about their actions unless necessary—make it clear what you seek, and what you’re willing to do to get it.
- Respect others. Even the villains—they’re wrong, and need to be stopped, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your respect.
What Not to Do?
However, there are some things you should avoid doing to make the game enjoyable for everyone else at the table:
- Don’t be uncompromising. Having strong beliefs is all well and good, but D&D is a cooperative game. Being a lone wolf is often not conducive to fun gameplay.
- Don’t cause chaos. This isn’t the Chaotic Good alignment. You may ignore rules when necessary, but don’t go out of your way to cause trouble. Every negative action should have a positive goal.
- Don’t waver. You know what’s right; anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Sticking to your conviction is part of the strength of the Neutral Good personality.
Lawful Good VS Other Alignments
Neutral Good VS Lawful Good
Lawful Good characters view Neutral Good characters as useful allies, but don’t trust them implicitly. They can form cohesive teams, as they each pursue the same goals. Neutral Good characters provide perspective to Lawful Good individuals, and often have few qualms with following the lead of Lawful Good characters.
While Neutral Good characters are comfortable bending rules when the ends justify the means, Lawful Good characters are often willing to overlook such violations and other flaws in pursuit of the same goal. Conflict will probably bed to be minimal, though a feeling of betrayal can fall hard on Lawful Good characters when their views don’t line up.
Batman and Superman are a good example of Lawful Good and Neutral Good characters working together. Most of the time they get along well enough, but Batman is willing to do things Superman is not. Sometimes this is necessary; other times it causes conflict.
Neutral Good VS Lawful Neutral
Lawful Neutral characters form perhaps the tightest bonds with Neutral Good ones. Generally, the latter have the same overarching values and goals as the former, while they aren’t particularly concerned about specific rules or laws in the way of obtaining them. Neutral Good characters are often content going along with Lawful Neutral ones as long as they’re generally going in the right direction. In these relationships, Neutral Good characters frequently defer to Lawful Neutral ones.
James Bond and Felix Leiter represent a perfect Lawful Neutral and Neutral Good relationship. Suave, confident James Bond follows his own internal compass and code when interacting with others, often putting himself at a disadvantage in order to stay aligned with his ideals. Felix Leiter and Bond’s other associates, however, are firmly in the pursuit of good, though as spies they regularly disregard conventional laws and norms to get the job done.
Neutral Good VS Lawful Evil
Lawful Evil characters tend to be cautious around Neutral Good characters, and vice versa. If they stay in their own lanes, they can comfortably ignore one another and get on with their lives. If the Lawful Evil character gets on the radar of a Neutral Good one, however, things begin to fall apart.
Neutral Good characters have little respect for the carefully constructed system Lawful Evil characters depend so fully on, and their damage-control strategies fall short. Neutral Good characters, however, rarely get the support they need in such conflicts because Lawful Evil characters are adept at appearing “right.”
Batman (Neutral Good) is the perfect foil to Carmine Falcone (Lawful Evil). He disrespects Penguin and his hierarchy and organization, and uses whatever means necessary to bring him down. However, on the other side, Falcone is skilled in corrupting city and police officials, and uses his influence and goons to keep himself out of jail, and make it difficult for Batman to bring him to legitimate justice.
Neutral Good VS Neutral Good
Neutral Good characters work well with one another. They follow the same goals and are willing to break laws in order to reach them. Conflict arises between them when they discover that, despite being on the same side, they’re at different points on the spectrum, and one character doesn’t have the same stomach for rule-breaking as the other. These characters come at odds when their cost-benefit analyses no longer align.
A good example of a Neutral Good-Neutral Good relationship is Harry Potter and his best friend Ron Weasley. For the majority of the series the two are inseparable and form a venerable duo, but when their interests no longer align, their partnership falls apart at the seams.
Neutral Good VS True Neutral
Neutral Good characters are frustrated by the ambivalence of True Neutral characters, but they appreciate their disdain for rules and tradition. True Neutral characters don’t mind Neutral Good ones until the latter violate balance in pursuit of their views on good and evil.
Neutral Good characters are viewed by True Neutral ones as dangerous because of their strong convictions, but the two can coexist peacefully until one line or other is crossed.
An example of this relationship is the Avengers and the Timekeepers (pre-Doctor Strange). The Timekeepers want only to preserve the timeline and protect the time stone. This directly interferes with the Avengers’ need to get the time stone to stop Thanos. The Timekeepers (True Neutral) don’t care about the Avengers’ plight, whereas the Avengers (Neutral Good) think the greater good is more important than their religion.
Neutral Good VS Neutral Evil
Neutral Good characters are at odds with Neutral Evil ones. While neither agree with the laws, values, and norms of society, they have opposing views on morality and justice. These two characters are dangerous when in conflict, because either will do whatever they must to stop the other, even if this means collateral damage.
While Neutral Good characters at least attempt to minimize the harm they inadvertently cause, their convictions and passions are often intensified and exaggerated by their evil counterparts.
A good example of this relationship is Green Arrow and Deathstroke. They both seem to be fighting their own battles outside the law, and as nemeses, they constantly butt heads. While they could join forces and be a powerful team, they’re both on opposite ends of the morality argument, and will never see eye-to-eye.
Neutral Good VS Chaotic Good
Neutral Good characters work well with Chaotic Good ones. They both eschew laws and rules in favor of the greater good, and they both believe the ends justify the means.
However, Chaotic Good characters tend to cause trouble for the sake of it and to stir the hornet’s nest, whereas Neutral Good characters take a more modest approach wherever possible. Unnecessary provocation can cause problems for this relationship, as Neutral Good characters don’t relish conflict where it isn’t warranted.
In Suicide Squad (2021), Bloodsport acts as a Neutral Good character to Harley Quinn’s Chaotic Good personality. They both are fighting for the same goals, and while they have different methods, both agree that coloring within the lines only makes the mission harder to complete.
Neutral Good VS Chaotic Neutral
Neutral Good characters often conflict with Chaotic Neutral ones, because the latter tend to be self-absorbed troublemakers, whereas the former are at least fighting for something. Chaotic Neutral characters scoff at the former’s dogged pursuit of their goals and their views on morality.
However, when it’s in the Chaotic Neutral character’s interest, the two can form an effective team without letting the laws and norms of society get in the way of what needs to be done.
A good example of a Neutral Good / Chaotic Neutral relationship is that of a peaceful protestor and an eco-terrorist. The Neutral Good character wants to express their displeasure with environmental problems. The Chaotic Neutral character wants to destroy machinery and systems in service of the environment, protecting it at any cost.
Neutral Good VS Chaotic Evil
Chaotic Evil characters are unsurprisingly at odds with Neutral Good characters, like most others. They do not follow the same goals, and tend to use more severe methods than Neutral Good characters can justify.
While Chaotic Evil characters will chaos any amount of damage to continue with their machinations, Neutral Good characters will be willing to do whatever must be done to stop them. Chaotic Evil characters may enjoy bringing out the darker side of Neutral Good characters, and use that to compromise their credibility with others.
James Bond is a perfect example of a Neutral Good character while at odds with his many Spectre enemies. James Bond is willing to cause some damage to complete the mission. When antagonized by the villain Blofeld, however, his rage causes him to cut corners and hurt more people than he normally would have in order to take him down.
Alignment is complex, diverse, and difficult to represent properly. The Neutral Good alignment is dynamic and interesting because these characters have the most options. They can follow the law or break it when it suits them most, and they can focus on their pursuit of good being their driving force.
However, when they become overzealous and cause a disproportionate amount of harm, they can quickly get into trouble and even be branded the villain.