Dungeons & Dragons information presented here is in a simplified form.
The alignment system is a two-dimensional grid. The law/chaos axis is defined as the distinction between the interest of the group versus the individual. Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to law/authority/rules, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Chaos implies freedom, rebelliousness, disreputable, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority and irresponsibility. Someone who is neutral has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to follow rules nor a compulsion to rebel. They are honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others if it suits them.
The good versus evil axis determines a person's moral compass. Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others. However, a good character can still chop evils creatures to bits without the slightest hesitation or regrets. Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some actively pursue evil out of duty to some malevolent deity or master. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships. Animals are considered neutral or unaligned, even when they attack innocents, because they act on natural instinct and lack the intelligence to make moral decisions.
|| Lawful Good
|| Acts with compassion and always with honor and a sense of duty. Upholds society and its laws, believing that these laws were created to work for the good and prosperity of all. They always follow the rules, tell the truth and help people - and hold everyone else to the same standards. They work within power systems to change them for the better. However, lawful actions are not always morally good actions (and vice versa), leading to conflict between the two or a violation of code. Cultures with a different belief or law system may be at odds with the one followed by a lawful good character, who may choose to ignore the conflicting system, change it, or push their own values onto the people within that society. They may fail to understand why an individual would pursue their own beliefs and interests over theirs. They may even refuse to kill any living thing, including criminals with hard evidence of wrongdoing.
|| • Righteous Knight
• Incorruptible Ruler
| • Angel
|| Lawful Neutral
|| They may follow cultural traditions, an organization or authority but do not lecture their beliefs to others or try to convert them. So long as they uphold their own code/beliefs they are content, and do not feel the need to concern themselves with the beliefs of others. Lawful neutrals typically believe strongly in concepts such as honor, order, rules, and tradition, but follow a personal code in addition to, or even in preference to, one set down by a benevolent authority. At their worst they can appear cold, upholding the law/code/rules without allowing morality to factor into it.
|| • Judge
• Arms Dealer
| • Sphinx
• Tomb Tapper
|| Lawful Evil
|| They see a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit and play by the rules, albeit without mercy or compassion. They serve a system in an attempt to gain more power or privilege for themselves, and may find creative ways to circumvent the rules without actually breaking them. They care about tradition, loyalty, and order but with little regard for the freedom and dignity of others lives. They are the masters of others - who are meant to be subservient. A Lawful Evil character will respect and follow those above them, and generally do not perceive themselves as 'evil'. Other-times, they are aware of their malicious deeds, but use law and order (or code) to justify them.
|| • Corrupt Official
• Privileged Noble
• Merciless Soldier
| • Vampire
• Bone Devil
• Mind Flayer
|| Neutral Good
|| Typically acts altruistically - good for goodness' sake, rather than being directed to by law or tradition. They have no problems cooperating with lawful officials, but do not feel beholden to them. Neutral good characters believe that rules and order are useful in society to a point, but that too much can restrict individual freedoms; as such, they generally follow the law until it encroaches on the rights of the people. In the event that doing the right thing requires the bending or breaking of rules, they do not suffer the same inner conflict that a lawful good character would. They are also more willing to mislead, break promises, and steal if it can be justified as helping someone in some way. These emotionally driven characters can be unpredictable in some circumstances, although they always try to minimize harm and only resort to violence when given no other choice.
|| • Healer
|| True Neutral
|| True neutrals are pragmatic and independent in their decisions and actions, driven primarily by personal motivations. They do not feel strongly towards any alignment, or may actively seek their balance: good, evil, law and chaos are all dangerous in extremes. If they favor good over evil, it is only because it makes their life easier or because they believe it will lead to some reward, and not because they are obliged to by their morals or ethics. They may have a tendency to side with the underdog or act opportunistically. However, true Neutrals are not that unpredictable - they generally lean towards whatever alignment will get them to their goals the fastest or with the least resistance, and are inclined to keep their word, unless circumstances change and it's better for them to break their promise. True neutrals do not involve themselves in the lives or business of people they do not need to get involved with. However, they can still show respect to people who respect them, will harm those who harm them, and will be kind to those who show them kindness. Because a True Neutral character considers the immediate and long term circumstances of every situation in relation to their primary motivation, two True Neutral characters may act very differently in the same circumstances.
|| • Rogue
|| • Centaur
|| Neutral Evil
|| Pure pragmatism without honor; they have no qualms about turning on allies if it is to their benefit to do so. They will harm others to get what they want, but do not go out of their way to cause carnage and mayhem if there is no direct benefit to themselves. Villains without a doubt, but capable of some self-restraint.
|| • Career Criminal
| • Hag
|| Chaotic Good
|| Value personal freedom and do what is necessary to bring about change for the better; sometimes by extreme methods. They are a free spirit that acts as their own conscience, disdaining bureaucratic organizations - particularly those that work against the people. Chaotic good characters care more about doing what's right than what the law dictates, and have little faith in the legal system to protect good people and bring the evil ones to justice. Their rebellious path may harm legitimate lawful people working for the system and negatively affect other Good people. Other times, chaotic good characters are content if the system leaves them alone. The less they have to do with it, the better. If they work with authorities, it is only if they absolutely have to.
|| • Rebel
|| Chaotic Neutral
|| An extreme individualist who values their freedom above all else - free from societal restrictions and morality. Somewhat unpredictable, they do not strive to protect or inhibit the liberties of others, and often challenge cultural norms, gender roles, tradition, religion, and the status quo. Their personality, attire, logic and more may be strange or hard to understand. They may alternate between acts of extreme good and extreme evil, so long as they get to do what they love.
|| • Hermit
• Kind-Hearted Barbarian
| • Gray Render
|| Chaotic Evil
|| Power without control, selfishness unrestrained by law; they have no respect for the rules or other people's lives. Whether out for themselves or dedicated to a cause, they are ruthless and brutal in their execution. While some may be outwardly savage and unrestrained, others are capable of subtlety and can be "compliant" with good aligned people (all for their own benefit of course) who may even benefit from the CE's knowledge of darker subjects. Manipulation and facades are useful tools for committing and hiding heinous acts. The unsuspecting, charmed, and fooled make for easy prey, reliable cover, or unknowing accomplices.
|| • Tyrant
• Serial Killer
Most races are also divided into two or more sub-races. Some overlap, but can not be show in the graph below. The tabletop game has over 55 playable races; not all can be shown here.
The nine original races are: Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, Humans, Dragonborns, Gnomes, Half-elves, Half-orcs, and Tieflings.
† Planetouched is a term used to described mortal creatures with a lineage that can be traced back to a race/being not from the mortal plane. Part-fiends (demons) are among the most common planestouched.
Almost all species of dragon are highly intelligent (whites are considered the dumbest) and able to speak Draconic (one of the most ancient languages) as well as many mortal languages. Many dragons have some innate magical abilities. Metallic dragons are able to shapeshift into small animals or human forms, and use this ability to secretly help or watch over humans. In human form they take on the physical stats of a human, but retain the mental stats & abilities of a dragon. Silver dragons are the best at concealing their true identities.
Dragons can cross-breed with other creatures (presumably while in human form) resulting in half-dragon offspring. Half-dragons are slightly bigger than their non-dragon parent and display the features of their dragon parent. These draconic features could be as subtle as serpentine slit pupils, or so prominent that they appeared dragonborn with wings and tail. The dragon ancestor subclass for sorcerers is traced back to mighty magic users of ancient times who made a bargain with a dragon or who might have claimed a dragon parent, produced descents with a dragon bloodline. They gain the ability to partially transform into a dragon with scales and wings.
Chromatic dragons are distinguished by the flat, non-reflective coloring of their scales. They were generally evil. Brown, Gray, Purple, Pink, and Yellow dragons exist, but are too rare to be considered part of the main cannon.
Metallic dragons are distinguished by the solid, reflective coloring of their scales. They were generally good. Cobalt, Electrum, Iron, Mercury, and Steel dragons exist, but are too rare to be considered part of the main cannon. Adamantine, Mithril, and Orium dragons are mentioned even less often.
Creatures unique to D&D.
Catch all pages: Magical Horse, Unnatural Canine, Mythic Bird, Giant Frog, Giant Spider, Giant Beetle, Construct,
Religion supports both the cleric class and the behavioral aspects of the alignment system. Many deities are arranged into pantheons, often led by Greater deities which are their direct superiors. The individual deities in a pantheon may not be forced to obey their superiors, although they typically respect and fear the superior deity. There are over 100 deities that can not all be listed here.
Each deity has a divine rank, which determines how much power they have, from highest to lowest:
- Overdeities: beyond understanding - care nothing for worshippers.
- Greater deities: millions of worshippers - may rule over other deities.
- Intermediate deities: control godly realms.
- Lesser deities: can perform powerful deeds.
- Demigods: able to grant spells beyond mortal limits.
- Quasi-deities / hero deities: immortal.
Universe / Realms
The Great Wheel cosmology describes the structure of the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse. Some settings have cosmologies that are very different from the "standard" one.
| Inner Planes:
- Material Plane (1)
- Positive (2) and Negative (3) Planes
- Elemental Planes (4–7)
- Ethereal (8) and Astral (9) Planes
Outer Planes (10–25)
1. Material Plane: Toril (world) and the surrounding cosmos exist.
2. Positive Plane: A place of pure light and energy.
Alternately, Feywild - a more extreme and magical reflection of the world. It's a place of perpetual twilight that's full of both enticing beauty and terrible dangers where time operates differently.
3. Negative Plane: A place of perpetual darkness.
Alternately, Shadowfell - a type of underworld, drawing from the shadows and gloom in a way that makes it impossible to forget.
4–7. Elemental Planes: The four common elements: Air, Fire, Earth, and Water.
Alternately, six planes: the four elements plus the Positive and Negative Energy planes.
Alternately, six planes (same as above) plus twelve minor planes: four para-elemental and eight quasi-elemental planes.
8. Ethereal Plane: A sea of boundless possibility, it has normal time (like the Material Plane) and no gravity. It consists of two parts: the Border Ethereal which connects to the Inner and Material planes, and the Deep Ethereal plane which acts as a link to many potential demiplanes (artificial creations).
9. Astral Plane: A place of thought, memory, and psychic energy; it is where gods go when they die or are forgotten. There is no gravity and creatures do not go hungry, age or need air while in the Astral plane. There is no space or time here, though both catch up with beings when they leave.
10–25. Outer Planes: A series of (17 to 26) planes of existence often maintained, but not always, by one or more gods.
| The Inner Planes are made up of elemental matter and forces.
The Outer Planes are alignment-based. The home of gods, dead souls, and raw philosophy and belief.
Transitive Planes connect the other planes and generally contain little, if any, solid matter or native life.
Good-aligned planes (or Upper Planes) at the top.
Evil-aligned planes (or Lower Planes) at the bottom.
Lawful planes (or Planes of Law) to the left.
Chaotic planes (or Planes of Chaos) to the right.
Neutral planes (or Planes of Conflict) sit between all of these.
Doorways: Openings to locations within the same plane or to a different plane entirely, is possible. Some are natural, others are magically created.
- Portal: A pre-existing structure (usually a door or archway); the portal is destroyed when the structure is. Portals also require portal keys to open.
- Conduit: A naturally occurring phenomena within the Astral and Ethereal Planes. There are a few types that can appear; a color pool leads from the Astral Plane to the Outer Planes. A vortex is a link from the Material world to the Inner Planes.
- Gates: A rarely occurring opening that is not bound to a physical structure.
Planar Pathways: Special landscape features that appear in multiple planes. Travel along a planar pathway results in travel along the planes. Pathways are crucial tactically, because they are very stable compared to portals or gates, and do not require magic spells or portal keys.
- River Oceanus: It flows through the Upper Planes, and is known to disappear and reappear within the different layers of the planes. No harm comes to those who drink of it.
- River Styx: It flows through the Lower Planes, and its branches can be found anywhere from the Nine Hells to the Abyss. The river is a deep, swift, and unfordable torrent. Creatures coming into contact with the waters of the Styx instantly forget their entire past lives.
† Soul coins are magical coins used as currency in the Nine Hells. The coins are used among the infernal hierarchy to barter for favors, bribe the unwilling and reward the faithful for services rendered. Each soul coin is infused with the soul of a single lawful/neutral/chaotic evil tormented creature. As a result, any creature of a non-evil alignment can only carry a few coins at a time. A creature of an evil alignment can carry as many as they wish. The soul inside the coin could be communicated with telepathically. It was possible to release the soul within a soul coin wherein they were transported to the river Styx and transformed into a weak demon.
Soul coins do not seem to have a set value. Different devils buy and sell them for differing amounts. The soul trapped inside may effect the value - a hero's soul is worth x that of a commoners soul, or race may be a factor, such as devils preferring the contained the souls of celestial beings. A demon war may increase demand because coins are used to fuel a lot of demon war machinery. All coins are standardized in terms of magical function - burning for fuel.