Can DND Characters Change Alignment? (Explained)

All Dungeons and Dragons (DND) characters have an alignment, and any character whose deeds contradict their stated alignment should consider changing it.

Can DND characters change alignment?

Yes, DND characters can change alignment. Characters can change alignment as often as they want. However, constantly shitting alignment can negatively impact the DND game, player group, and character. Certain classes, like Paladins, rely heavily on alignment.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about DND characters changing alignment.

What Is Alignment in DND?

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Alignment is a moral decision made by many cognitive creatures intended to provide a quick assessment of a character. Because they understood that goodness without free will is servitude, the good gods in DND who created the various races gave them the ability to make moral decisions.

A normal DND creature’s alignment broadly represents its personal and moral attitudes.

Alignment comprises two components: morals such as good, neutral, or evil, and the other describes opinions regarding society and order and includes lawfulness, neutrality, or chaos.

As a result, nine unique alignments determine the available combinations.

These are some examples:

  • Lawful Good (LG): Creatures can be relied on to accomplish what society expects.
  • Neutral Good (NG): Characters do their best to assist others based on their requirements.
  • Chaotic Good (CG): Creatures act according to their principles, with almost no consideration for what others anticipate.
  • Lawful Neutral (LN): Individuals follow the law, personal codes, or tradition.
  • Neutral, or True Neutral (N): This is the alignment of individuals who seek to avoid moral difficulties and do what appears best at the moment.
  • Chaotic Neutral (CN): Creatures pursue their impulses and give much value to independence above everything else.
  • Lawful Evil (LE): Characters can take whatever they please (within the order, loyalty, or special law of custom).
  • Neutral Evil (NE): This is the alignment of people who will do everything they can to get away with it without regard for compassion or remorse.
  • Chaotic Evil (CE): Creatures commit arbitrary violence due to greed, bloodlust, or hatred.

Can DND Characters Change Alignment? (Official Answer)

The official DND books support characters changing their alignments.

There is a small section in the Players Handbook (PHB) that says:

“Alignment is indeed a moral choice for many cognitive beings. Humans, elves, dwarves, and other humanoid races can select between good and evil, law and chaos.”

The benign deities who made such races granted them free will to make moral decisions on their own on purpose.

“The good-aligned deities who made these species, according to myth, allowed them free choice to select their moral paths, recognizing that good minus free will is servitude.”

Variant Rules, a 2015 Unearthed Arcana article, also explains this:

“Alignment is intended to be a brief overview of a character, not really a precise definition. It’s a start, but factors like defects and ties provide a much more thorough depiction of a character’s nature.”

We can deduce from all these official statements that alignment is indeed not rigid and thus can be modified.

However, this change ought to be made by the play character (PC), not the Dungeon Master (DM).

Primarily because PCs have the moral freedom to do so.

As the DM, you might recommend a different alignment or inform players that they may be playing more Chaotic Good (CG) than Chaotic Neutral (CN).

Why Would a Character Change Alignment?

Alignment is a key element in roleplaying a character during a campaign.

Alignment determines:

  • What your character is willing to do
  • What your character is not willing to do
  • If your character will take out an innocent person
  • If your character will betray the rest of the player group

Therefore, a character might change alignment if they decide that they want to roleplay a different kind of personality or make a different set of choices in the game.

Likewise, depending on your actions, the DM could decide that you are not adhering to your chosen alignment and move you toward one or the other axis.

How Do Characters Change Alignment?

Alignment and enforcement have largely been eliminated in the current edition of DND.

Even so, if you claim to be good while actively participating in evil activities or ignoring the evil deeds that your party members perform (if you are aware of them), then you are not good.

Similarly, if your character in DND is lawful.

If your party is constantly breaching local rules (for example, breaking curfew), and your character does nothing about it, then you are not truly lawful, and a change in alignment might be required.

What Happens When Characters Change Alignment?

The rules of DND have always been stated clearly: alignment has to be descriptive, and any character whose actions conflict with their stated alignment ought to have their alignment modified.

When you do change your character’s alignment, the change can affect:

  • Your character sheet (You’ll literally change the alignment on the sheet)
  • Your character role in the player group might change
  • The way you roleplay your character
  • Your character class abilities and special features
  • Magical items
  • Experience points
  • The mental wellbeing of your character

Effect on Chosen Class

Changing alignments may have an impact on the class you’ve chosen:

  • Paladins – Paladins who stray from good alignments can lose powers until they repent.
  • Clerics – Clerics might be one axis away from their deity, but if they swung too far, they would lose talents until they decided to return to the fold.
  • Monks – Monks were required to be lawful. Thus, if you swing more toward neutrality or chaos, you would lose your capacity to advance as a monk.

Cursed Magic Items

Players should note that there are spells and effects which are alignment-dependent.

If you change alignments, you may lose the magical bonuses of the item.

Some items also possess the potential to flip your alignment, so it is still essential to get protection from good and evil influences.

Experience Penalty

An experience penalty does not usually apply if an alignment shift is forced.

Instead, the character might not gain experience points until he regains his former alignment.

Experience points

When a character freely agrees to changes in their alignment, the cost of achieving the next level is sometimes doubled.

Ultimately, experience points losses and penalties are up to the DM.

However, all potential experience point deductions should be discussed prior to the start of the campaign.

Severity Penalty

A character can alter the alignment as many times as they like.

However, if more than one modification occurs per level, the intensity of a punishment can increase.

For example, a character suffers from severe mental confusion, akin to today’s personality crisis. If you think about it, this kind of mental anguish makes sense.

People don’t go around constantly changing their moral code.

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Create a DND Character With Jasper Art
Can a DM Force a Character to Change Alignment?

The DM has the authority to force an alignment change for any character.

Usually, a DM will pause the game and inform a player that their character hasn’t been acting per their alignment.

At this stage, the DM and the player can discuss how the character is behaving differently and whether or not a shift in alignment is necessary. The player should be included in this discussion, but if the situation becomes too severe, the DM should possibly consider invoking fiat.

However, railroading players into alignment changes can trigger a backlash from the player group.

Make certain that the alignment shift is completely justified.

The player then has a choice:

  1. Concede with the DM that a shift in alignment is necessary.
  2. Quit playing the game (unfortunate but sometimes necessary).
  3. Continue to play the game in a way that contradicts the DM’s perception of the character’s alignment, arguing that things are happening differently than the DM has stated. This will almost certainly result in the DM tossing the player out of the game or abandoning the game.

Thankfully, it almost never comes down to #2 or #3.

Can NPCs Change Alignment?

An NPC is a non-player character.

NPC Alignment is a gaming mechanic that specifies how each NPC in the game will react to the player characters.

Aside from a few blatantly allied NPCs, the majority of the NPCs are depicted as neutral.

Hostile NPCs usually possess some sort of motivation to act in aggressive and violent ways toward the PCs.

To change an NPC’s alignment, simply modify its alignment trait. Consider how the NPC’s personality will be affected by the new alignment and alter their personality and skills accordingly.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Switching Character Alignment(DND)

If you are considering changing your character’s alignment, you may want to know the potential pros and cons of an alignment transition.

Pros

  • It is entirely optional.
  • It can be used for more accurate and authentic roleplaying.
  • It can benefit the player group.
  • Helps keep characters consistent through its guidelines.
  • Useful for selecting adventures according to your players’ alignments.

Cons

  • Can be detrimental to roleplaying: Alignment-based gameplay elements may drive players to choose alignments based on gaming utility rather than roleplaying attributes.
  • Might indicate that a group is too rigidly playing by alignment
  • It might prevent characters from adopting attitudes beyond their affiliations and ignores other character traits.
  • Certain alignments, such as chaotic ones, can be challenging to categorize and roleplay.
  • Creatures without alignments might end up with no personality, making creature design dependent on the alignment system.
  • Alignment is subjective: Alignment is subjective because people perceive it differently. Everyone differs in their opinions on morals and lawfulness. This influences how they evaluate character alignments.

Does Alignment Matter in DND?

Alignment is an important aspect of celestial nature and character personality.

A devil can not decide to be lawful evil, nor does it strive toward lawful evil; rather, it is deemed lawful evil at its core.

It would no longer be a demon if it stopped being lawful evil.

Most beings that cannot think rationally lack alignments and are, hence, unaligned.

These creatures are incapable of making moral or ethical judgments. Instead, they act on their bestial nature.

Sharks, for example, are vicious predators but not wicked. They have no alignment.

Alignment is a moral decision for many cognitive beings.

Humans, elves, dwarves, and other humanoid races can select between good and evil, law and chaos.

Here is a good video about alignment in DND:

Youtube video by Dungeon DudesCan DND Characters Change Alignment?

Final Thoughts: Can DND Characters Change Alignment?

Asking about changing alignments is one of those simple, in-game questions that come up in DND.

Sort of like asking, Can you attack yourself in DND?

The bottom line is that alignment change in DND relies a lot on your character’s activities and choices.

If you are not sticking to your designated alignment, the DM may decide that you begin moving towards another.

Related posts:

Sources

Variant Rules: Unearthed Arcana
The Player’s Handbook