The Century Hunt
It’s no secret I bear no love for 4E’s alignment system. In this campaign, we’ll be using 3E’s axis, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with by now. However, since you haven’t played rulers before, you might be unfamiliar with how your alignment impacts your style of leadership. Below is a handy guide if you’re unsure of your choice in alignment, or how to be a lord/lady with the one you chose.
The alignments are listed in order of ease of roleplaying this particular campaign.
Ah, the easy one first. There are countless examples of this in literature, with varying degrees of success within their worlds. You can play a just and noble king that is adored by the people, or you could go Ned Stark and let your principles slowly spell your doom. While LG does somewhat limit your choices in a given situation, it can be fun to clash with your more practical teammates.
I have long subscribed to the notion that the battle between good and evil is one of selflessness versus selfishness. With that in mind, a NG ruler is one that leads with compassion, who often bends the rules while still respecting them. They feel they have a duty for the people first, and the law second. Think Aragorn or, in smaller scale, Jean-Luc Picard.
A pure representation of a country’s laws, the LN character adheres to tradition in his homeland, for good or for ill. Their code of conduct doesn’t necessarily match their companions’, but you swear by it nonetheless. This can often manifest itself as heavily pro-establishment attitude, which other lawful characters respect and chaotic characters loathe. There is a lot of potential here to slide into either good or evil, based on your actions.
As noted above, the LE ruler is motivated primarily by their country’s laws, but unlike LG and LN, chooses to use these laws to pursue their own needs. The LE ruler believes that whatever is best for them is best for the entire country, and views seizing rights, property, and even lives as going towards the greater good. This can manifest itself under a brutal yet stable dictatorship, or simply work towards widening the gap between rich and poor. Richard Nixon or George W. Bush’s cabinet are useful guides here.
Disinterested in the formalities of court, yet wanting to apply their power towards helping others, the CG ruler often neglects his duties in favor of more down-to-Earth pursuits. Compassionate and agreeable, the CG character gets along well with most of their peers, but they find themselves applying too light a touch to governance. Because not everyone in their country shares their value system, this can lead to losing authority for a careless player. Sure, you might win the Century Hunt, but you’ll find your house a mere puppet while more sinister figures determine your country’s actions.
As always, TN is incredibly tough to typecast. Unlike many interpretations, I don’t believe TN to be the ADD child of the D&D universe. TN rulers are LN ones without the strict adherence to rules, or NG characters with no particularly strong attachment to the people they lead. Mostly, a TN ruler is interested in preserving his family’s position, and the battles between tradition and apathy, or selflessness and selfishness, are trivial in comparison. Plus, you get to make a lot of “Your Neutralness!” jokes.
The last of the recommended alignments, NE characters are really just in it for themselves. They can make a show of caring about their constituents, but the reality is they want to use their position to fulfill all their desires. A high Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma score is recommended for this one, as holding a position of power while NE requires some explanation for why the people tolerate you. Your best bet is posing as a benevolent dictator, regardless of how true that is.
You could not care less about leading a country, plain and simple. The CN character is poorly fit to rule, and you will almost certainly bring about the downfall of your family’s seat on the throne. For these reasons, I can’t recommend playing a CN character in this campaign, as fun as they are. If you’re dead-set on playing one, start off as CG and let your character development steadily slide into apathy towards your subjects. That’s basically the career trajectory of Robert Baratheon, and he’s a compelling character.
Speaking of Baratheons, the Joffreys of the world are also ill-suited for this campaign. And by that I mean there is no way you can justify making a CE character to me. The first session will consist of everyone else attacking you until you are dead, and then I make you create a LG character just to spite you. If you flee or somehow win, I will summon a Gold Dragon to eat you and then laugh in your face. Point is, there are better ways to troll your DM.