Alignment describes a character’s ethics and morals. It is a broad definition of how they view the world with respect to themselves and others and how things work. Using the three combinations from the Law-Chaos axis and an additional 3 from the Good-Evil axis, there are 9 alignments total.
Chaotic characters are typically very independent. It’s not that they refuse to work in a team – it’s that a team has no intrinsic value or purpose to them. They just get things done, and they don’t take orders from anyone if they can help it. They know what’s best for themselves. This doesn’t mean they won’t hire an expert or foolishly wander into the Abyss all alone – it just means that when they do work with others, loyalty isn’t what’s driving them.
Chaotic Neutral: Slaad are Chaotic Neutral because they believe in the barbaric “might makes right” mentality. The only way to control one is through force. The Fated faction are generally chaotic because of the same mentality. They blame the victim when someone is robbed (for allowing the robbery to happen to them in the first place). Nothing is strapped down, anything is up for the taking. Bleakers are generally Chaotic Neutral because they believe that nothing has any meaning. No sense can be made of the world. There is no cause and effect, no governing laws or rules, things just are and you deal with it. Anarchists are chaotic because they believe that the engine of society is set up to benefit a certain select group. Laws and rules and organizations are just a team-effort con.
Chaotic Good: Most elves are chaotic good. The Society of Sensation is a very chaotic good faction. Freedom (in this case, curiosity) improves the quality of life. They generally care about others. A chaotic good character’s stereotypical enemy is slavery. It’s evil and it represses freedoms. Chaotic good characters hate bullies for the same reasons. Whereas a Chaotic Neutral character would see the bully versus victim situation as the bully exerting his or her own freedom (or strength and might), Chaotic Good characters believe that freedom does not have to come at the cost of others. Chaotic Neutral characters believe that freedom simply is – good or evil really have nothing to do with it. Chaotic Good characters believe that freedom goes hand in hand with goodness. While all chaotic characters believe that laws are harmful, Chaotic Good characters try to protect the people that the laws or societal rules harm.
Chaotic Evil: Chaotic evil characters understand the concept of freedom and also have no respect for laws or rules. While Chaotic Good characters insist that freedom can exist for everyone, chaotic evil characters believe that their freedom exists at the expense of everyone. They take advantage of others, step on whoever they need to, and do whatever they want for as long as they can get away with it. They understand the “might makes right” concept, but the difference can be seen when Slaad are compared to Tanar’ri. The frog barbarians fight against the organized systems of culture in general because they have the an innate need to quash oppressive rule and enslavement. This usually means lots of infighting among their own. Tanar’ri add a slight wrinkle to the Slaad ideology. They are so selfish and independent that they frequently use engines of hate, revenge, and malicious intent to achieve their own freedom.
Lawful characters believe that for every effect, there is a cause. Each choice has a consequence. Order exists in the world. The whole is greater and will always be better than its individual parts. Chaotic characters see working together as something that’s done on a case by case basis, when necessary or convenient to them. Lawful characters believe that everyone always has a role, and if you find out what yours is, you’ll not only excel, but the group will. Lawful characters also believe in things like basic rights and equality. Chaotic characters do not think that laws necessarily have any meaning.
Lawful Good: The Harmonium have a lawful good twist because they not only believe that there is an undeniable order to the world, but that the world will be a better place for everyone if we are all in our specified place. This is using law and order for the betterment of society. Lawful good characters believe that together we can help more people than possible if we try to do it alone and not only that, but that following a strict code helps others. The rules of the world are in place to create goodness and those who disobey them are causing just as much harm as if they were evil.
Lawful Neutral: The Fraternity of Order is the classic example of a lawful neutral faction because they believe that order and law simple are. They permeate the multiverse. Everything has a reason; all things have a purpose; meaning is out there. Modrons are ridiculously lawful neutral because they have no sense of self. The group has completely overshadowed the individual. Lawful characters take pride in whatever group, clan, guild, or faction they belong to. Lawful Neutral characters see laws and rules as things that are self-evident. Good and evil are just nonsense interpretations of law and frankly, irrelevant.
Lawful Evil: The Baatezu are lawful evil because they understand that the multiverse is filled with laws and rules and order – and these fiends use those things to cause pain and suffering on others. Unlike the tanar’ri they aren’t endlessly fighting amongst themselves for the pursuit of personal goals. Everything a baatezu does it does for the glory itself and for the glory of its race. The Mercykillers are sometimes seen as lawful evil because they to use laws to harm others (through punishment and vengeance). Finding loop-holes in a law isn’t automatically evil. It depends on what the person does with the loophole (a lawful good lawyer, for example, would use some zoning loophole to allow an orphanage to be built; the lawful evil lawyer, however, would use that information to extort those that needed the orphanage; the lawful neutral lawyer would either ignore the loophole, or try to close it as it is a flaw within the system).
Neutral Good: Neutral good characters focus on helping others in any way possible. If there is a budding society full of paladins and wonderful people, neutral good characters will help that society grow. In contrast, a Chaotic Good character would be against that society for fear of its natural corruption and generally just believe it to be a bad idea (although they would probably just avoid it and not help them instead of actively harming them). Neutral Good characters, however would also turn around and fight that same society if indeed it did grow into a haven of harmful corruption – and take whatever action necessary to stop the harm (whereas a lawful good character would try to save and reform the city at all costs). Neutral good characters believe that helping others is paramount and questions about the multiverse having laws or things like person freedoms are irrelevant in the face of being a Good Samaritan
Neutral Evil: Yugoloths are neutral evil because they pursue their goals at the expense of others no matter what. They have no concern for the banality of questions regarding order or freedom. Yugoloths do whatever they need to do to further themselves. A tanar’ri cannot stand to be controlled by fate or by orders from its superiors. A baatezu listens strictly to higher-ups and indulges personal desires only when helpful to the rest of Baator. A yugoloth will do whatever it takes to further itself. It has no innate qualms listening to others or being in groups. At the same time, those loyalties exist there to further the individual fiend. Everything is at the expense of others. Everyone is taken advantage of, whether the victim has more power or are part of the team. In a certain sense, neutral evil characters respect no one.
True Neutral: The Dustmen are mostly true neutral because they do not believe that law, chaos, good, or evil have anything relevant to do with the multiverse. Death, to them, is what good is to a Neutral Good person. Their tenets are often alien and difficult to understand to those who follow law or have beliefs of freedom. Druids are true neutral because the concept of nature has nothing to do with society or freedom, harming or helping others. The Transcendent Order is true neutral because they have Zen-like teachings that ignore the classic axis of good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Constant balance, the Ciphers preach. Another true neutral mentality is that of moderation – too much good, evil, law, or chaos on any side would be detrimental. Different perspectives are inherently equal, and there is no reason to destroy one over the other.