This blog series is adapted from a section of an online workshop I conducted for Writers & Books in March 2020.
Deciding a character’s alignment helps determine how’d they’d act during their adventures. I find it helpful to think about how each alignment would behave in the same circumstances because it highlights the differences between each alignment.
Here’s the scene:
A character is in a market and encounters a thief who has stolen from them in a previous incident. The thief doesn’t see the character yet, so they have time to react. How will they act?
In our scenario, a chaotic good character may pull a harmless prank or trick to expose them as a thief and/or force them to give them back the stolen money or goods. She’s as likely to give away her returned goods as she is to keep them. She will also let the thief keep the stolen goods if he has a satisfactory explanation for his thievery or a compelling need for the pinched property.
Defining Chaotic Good Characters
This alignment encompasses many people’s favorite heroes because chaotic good characters are fun, light, and unpredictable. These types answer to no one, but they have a moral compass. They are unlikely to be affiliated with any organization, religion, or government, at least for any length of time. Chaotic good characters are undisciplined nice guys, rebels who fight against evil establishments, and anti-heroes.
Chaotic good characters are not entirely selfless. They often wrestle with what group to support, which accounts for some of their chaos. For example, should they act in favor of their adventuring group, or the whole country? What if the needs of these two groups are at odds? Chaotic good characters are moral as part of their nature, and not from following a dogma, so they are often helpful to whoever is physically close or can come up with the most convincing request for aid.
Chaotic Good Character Development
A chaotic good character has a lot of room to develop over a story arc. She may start out as a benevolent trickster and evolve into an incorruptible warrior. Her development often comes from wisdom, since she doesn’t follow the rules, she is guided only by her own intellect.
A foolish or inexperienced chaotic good character will make a lot of mistakes. She will struggle with false allies and have a hard time forecasting the ultimate result of her actions, sometimes leading to calamity.
As she develops, she’ll become better at reading people, and she’ll figure out who deserves her trust. Additionally, seasoned agents of chaos become adept at predicting the outcomes of situations, because they’ve seen it all throughout their tumultuous life. If she develops keen foresight, a chaotic good character may eventually become a wise sage, who takes seemingly random actions that ultimately lead to miraculous results.
Chaotic Good Character Examples
Robin Hood is the classic, chaotic good character. In all his forms throughout literature, he famously flouts the law and ferociously fights a corrupt government. His loose organization, the Merry Men, has no formal structure and a likely filthy living situation out in the woods. They probably all need baths. Poor Maid Marian.
The Wizard Merlin from the myriad of Kind Arthur tales, and specifically from The Once and Future King, is the seasoned sage chaotic good archetype. He shows up at random, his methods are suspect, but his outcomes are (usually) marvelous. He sometimes makes mistakes or gets distracted, but Merlin is altruistic and always gravitates toward righteousness.
Han Solo from the Star Wars franchise is a rebellious chaotic good character. He is, at first, good only to his companions, but his virtue soon extends to all the rebel forces as he joins their fight against malevolence. Early in his journey, he has some of the issues we see with inexperienced chaotic good characters, including treacherous collaborators and imprudence.
That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be discussing Chaotic Neutral Characters. May the Force be with you!