Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shifting to Neutral (Cause' Most of Us Are)...

Many of us like to think of ourselves as good, the criminals among us as evil (or simply misguided), and all others as neutral and indifferent.  Good becomes the default setting for any stable, functioning society, with the rest mere aberrations...

But what if it ain't so?  What if most of us, even the good ones, are neutral?

Now I'm not saying this because most life is animal life; and animals, given their lack of sophisticated moral reasoning, are neutral by default.  I say this because it might just be that good and evil are moral extremes embraced by a select few.  Good is prized because it's laudable, not to mention rare.  Evil is reviled because it does harm and threatens all others regardless of their philosophical bent.  But neutrals predominate... 

GOOD characters aren't simply decent people.  They're philosophically committed to advancing good, fighting evil, and bringing justice to others.  Indeed, their attentions are for others, and they act with deep compassion and mercy for the downtrodden.  This is the questing white knight.  The one beloved by good folk and resented by the wicked.

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to do what it takes to get there, and herein lies the high regard champions are held in.  Few want the job!

EVIL persons are selfish and behave accordingly.  Their only real commitment is to themselves, and they actively seek advancement at the expense of others.  They don't care who gets hurt, and might just enjoy the suffering they inflict.  This is the ruthless warlord seeking domination by the sword.  The one feared by good and evil men alike.  

NEUTRAL adventurers care deeply (and genuinely) about their family, friends, and communities.  They really do.  But their commitment drops off sharply for those beyond their sphere of concern.  This is the viking warrior who prays for the safety of their home while happily raiding on distant shores.  Or the shopkeeper who never did anyone any harm, but never did any good either.  They aren't saints or sinners.  Just people.

Once again, good and evil are extremes.  Good characters are crusaders committed to bringing compassion to others while evil adventurers are villains devoted to their own gratification by whatever means.  Neutrals are pretty much everyone else; the vast majority of people primarily motivated to care for their own.  They'll stop short of making sacrifices for strangers, but take no pleasure in wanton cruelty either.  Charity starts at home...

Live and let live means minding your own business and returning the treatment you receive from others.  That's what a neutral might say, which makes them reasonable, not to mention flexible, companions.  Such characters often have deeply personal reasons for adventuring and may be persuaded to help once they've grown attached to a cause and/or its people.  But neutrals also have a price, and they know what that price is.

In short, neutrals are your friendly shopkeeper who puts their family first, but also that moneylender who thinks only of themselves but still draws the line at cold-blooded murder even when convenient.  The neutral is most of us, and maybe that's a good thing...


  1. You wrote that well and wrapped up the last line, nicely. I'd say goodly but I don't know if that's a word. Cheers!

  2. I see the argument for Evil being selfish all over the place, and I tend to disagree with it. the Neutral person you describe is selfish. they only care about what immediately affects them. they care about other people sure, but pretty much only those they know. In comparison a 'good' person will care about all individuals and put the needs of others ahead of their own needs.

    I see Evil, the extreme opposite of 'good,' as more than just selfish. The Evil person enjoys the suffering of others. They will inflict pain on others for their own amusement. yes, the evil person will do whatever it takes to get what they want, and are therefore selfish as you described, but what they want is fundamentally different from a neutral person just as what a Good person wants is different from a neutral person's desires.