The Balance - True Neutral
“Side? I am on nobody’s side, because nobody is on my side, little orc”
A True Neutral character finds him-or-herself right in the middle of our alignment grid. Back when I was starting to play 3 edition D&D, many of my friends chose true neutral as the alignment of their party, because they felt choosing good or evil would be… I don’t know… too mainstream I guess. However the true neutral alignment is much more complicated than being just “not evil” or “not good”. If “order” was the key-word for Lawful Neutral, then “balance” is what defines a true neutral character.
So let’s look at a hypothetical situation.
Remember the guy who stole the loaf of bread because he had no money to eat? A true neutral character would view his deeds on a balance and ask himself the following questions: Did the baker charge more than what’s reasonable for the bread? Why didn’t the guy have any money? Was he a gambler? Was he robbed?
A True Neutral Character usually lives by the law of “eye for an eye”. Some may take it to more extreme ends than others, but that’s how their moral system works.
Many Druid characters choose this alignment because they believe that no matter what happens in the struggles between good and evil, they both need each other. If good wins a battle, evil will rise again. If evil builds a Death Star, Good ol’ Luke Skywalker will shoot a pair of proton torpedoes into that exhaust port and blow it up. But the Empire WILL strike back, and drop a BOMB on Luke [insert “who’s your daddy” joke here].
Druids believe in Nature as the main catalyst for these balance shifts. And many times the druids themselves choose (or as a true druid would say: accept) to be the ones to drive the balancing actions.
So how does one role-play a character whose allegiance might change the way the wind changes course?
True Neutral characters are usually very self-centered. Sure, if you’re a Druid it may sound as if you’re acting for a good cause, which is Protecting Nature in general, but as I said before, it’s more complicated than that. If you’re with them, or working towards the goals of the organization that benefits their goals, then the true neutral character will help you out. If not, then he will remain on the sidelines.
A band of orcs is raiding the countryside? So long as they don’t touch the woods he’s protecting, the true neutral druid won’t move a finger, no matter how much death they may cause. Once they start chopping down trees to build their fort, that’s when the true neutral druid (or ranger) will get in there and rain Nature’s wrath upon them. Now let’s go back to our handy dandy alignment chart.
The perfect example for a true neutral character for today is:
I used his quote from the two towers at the beginning of this entry because I really could not think of a better way to describe his way of acting. We end up liking treebeard by the end of the two towers because he brings the hammer down on Isengard for killing all those trees. You could say that if the Ents didn’t intervene in the war then surely the battle for Isengard would have taken at least a few months to resolve.
Then again, he was only moved to action when he saw what Saruman had done to Fangorn forest… selfish behavior if ever there was one, but really…truly… neutral.