Angel whispered to her pixie companion who invisibly darted towards the shadowy figure. It wasn’t long before she felt cloud land back on her shoulder ‘He seems to be neutrally aligned’ he reported whispering into one of her feline ears. For a kid her age, this kind of person would definitely be freaky: A tiefling wearing a cloak with shadows practically clinging to him. But to a young tabaxi like Angel, it was simply another potential friend to play with.
Alignment is probably one of the more heavily argued parts of DnD with most people saying it doesn’t even matter. In the end, it doesn’t actually matter that much, but it can reveal insight as to how a creature would act and respond to certain situations.
Alignment has two parts: Order, and Morals. Order contains Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic, while Morals include Good, Neutral, and Evil. Together, you get a decent range of personality from Lawful Good, to Chaotic Evil.
A lot of people interpret these differently, but I’ll share my understanding starting with Order. In my eyes, Lawful doesn’t mean you have to follow the law, it just means you have standards, and you don’t let them falter (e.g. Burning down a village but refusing to kill any children would be Lawful). Though you may have a few standards that are loose, or even fall out, those do not qualify you for Lawful. Neutral to me is mostly being open to new things, but still having a few guidelines to keep you from making a deal with a devil without being ready for the consequences (e.g. Refusing to kill beasts, but making an exception when they destroy something of yours would be Neutral). And my definition of Chaotic means that you would have little to no issue breaking your own standards if you have any (Refusing to get into a prank war then changing your mind as soon as you see the perfect prank to pull would be Chaotic).
Now for Morals, I feel like Good isn’t just being a law abiding citizen which most people see it as. I see Good as striving to help others (e.g. Destroying a city to protect your race from extinction would be Good), While Neutral is more focused on forwarding your own goals, without any qualms about others (e.g. passing by a kidnapping because you aren’t the one being kidnapped would be neutral). Finally, Evil is focused on undermining others and helping yourself (e.g. Making others look bad just because it’s amusing would be Evil).
Though briefly, there are unaligned creatures that don’t have qualms about anything except death. These creatures mostly act to survive, and live. When they fight, it’s generally because they’re looking for a meal, defending their territory, or defending part of their pack, including themselves.
Now I understand that these examples create loads of grey area, but it does actually make sense to me. It also explains why a good creature might be a villain, or how an evil creature can be a hero. It’s always a problem when you get into arguments about alignment, but such issues can be solved when you take the time to remember, alignment can shift, and if you make enough choices to warrant a shift in alignment, you may want to do that. It also makes Lycanthropy and Vampirism a lot less frightening as you don’t need to fret over what your changed alignment means.
In the end, alignment is rather flexible, and is mostly up to interpretation, and quite a few tables don’t actually worry about it. Though if playing around with Fey or Celestials, it would be wise to have a proper alignment ready. And with that, you’re ready to give your character an alignment! Maybe I should run an Evil campaign at some point.