[Channel Teaser] How My Players Learned What Chaotic Neutral
Means This story was submitted by one of our very
own viewers, Azrael. Thank you! The way I have always felt is that both the
Players AND the DM deserve to have a good time, and regardless of what side of the screen
I’m sitting, I try hard to make sure that happens. As the DM, after a very extensive Session
Zero, where we hashed out all the rules and expectations, the four relevant ones to this
story being “No Evil PCs”, “Read the World Lore”, “Cinematics”, and “Actions have Consequences”. We began our campaign. I’ve been playing / DMing for about 25 years
now, so I’m good at rolling with the punches and improv, but I also create a rich, organic,
living breathing world for the PCs to interact with full of complex plot hooks that run their
own course without PC interaction. I’m a world builder and I care about verisimilitude
to provide my players a world they can get lost in. But I’m also a realist, so this World Lore
is only about 2 and a half pages, one sided text. And for those not familiar with the term,
a “Cinematic”, much like a cutscene in video games, is a period of time where the DM gets
to monologue a bit to set important scenes without the players interrupting. Well, I knew from the beginning that this
was going to be bad. The PCs were every mix of race and class,
so all the “party roles” were filled but the one thing they all had in common? They were all Chaotic Neutral… which as
any DM worth their salt knows is the alignment PC’s pick when they can’t be “evil” but
still want to be an a-hole. If I know all this, why did I allow it? Long story short, I hadn’t played in a long
time, and I was desperate enough to try to make it work. Well, it went as you might imagine. If they weren’t raping, and pillaging, they
were just ourtright killing any NPC I put in front of them. I was getting more and more dejected, frustrated,
and pissed off. I wasn’t having any fun and was ready to just
call it quits and drop the game, when a brilliant… and Evil… idea came to me. They wanted an Evil campaign? Done. They wanted to kill everything? Done. Wanted to feel epic and unstoppable? Done. They wanted to feel like heroes charging across
the countryside leaving a wake of bodies and destruction in their path? Done. Over the next YEAR my plan slowly unfurled
and I loved every minute of it. The plot hook: A rumor, whispered in a tavern,
of a village of necromancers. And they were hooked. They go to the village and the first thing
they see is the tiny zombie of a little girl. She is horribly decayed, practically bones,
but her clothes are very well tended, and as she shambles towards the party the paladin
can even see dozens of little yellow ribbons delicately tied in her hair, in contrast to
her dark green dress. I barely have the description out of my mouth
when the paladin yells “Smite!” and obliterates her. From a nearby house the party hears the piercing
shriek of a woman howling in pain, shock, and rage. A woman, wearing a dark cloak, comes charging
out of the house at the paladin, screaming “Saaaaraaaaah!” with her hands in front of
her like talons, clearly intent on strangling the paladin. There is commotion from the other houses in
town. Roll initiative. The fight goes as you’d expect it. The party kills every last necromancer and
undead in town. Every man, woman, and child. Even a couple of cats and dogs. And when they’re done, they take everything
valuable and then burn the village to the ground. They ignored all the descriptions of the insides
of the houses and focused on just “what looks expensive?”. Blatantly brush off my descriptions of the
undead and the tools they’re using to attack/defend. Impatiently interrupt me, to attack, as I
try to roleplay the necros’ questions and pleas. Basically, being the worst possible group
of people sitting around a table a DM has ever had to endure… and I’m loving it. Now, for those of you thinking this is a trick
or an illusion, it’s not. It IS a village of necromancers, and there
are lots of undead. Actually, I forgot something. The players did spare one woman necromancer,
to brutally torture information out of her, in order to find out more information about
other Cabals and Mini-Bosses. Because, obviously these are peon necros. Which of course they insisted on roleplaying
THAT in graphic detail for the rest of the session, about 1 and a half hours. When they were done with her they crucified
her, alive, as a warning to other necromancers. She didn’t survive the process. The next few months were pretty much a rinse
repeat of this with increasingly more powerful undead and necromancers to challenge them,
with me trying relentlessly to describe the world and they relentlessly ignoring me. With one exception. They started to hear rumors of an evil group
of mercenaries going around. Strange powers. Wielding mighty weapons. Slaughtering whole villages and leaving no
survivors. There’s a bounty that grows larger and larger
each time they hear a new rumor, but no matter how hard they pursued them, they never seemed
to catch up to them. They run across random encounters with groups
of bandits that get stronger and stronger, but the mercenaries seem to always be one
step ahead. It was a thorn in their side, and some of
the players even pulled me aside from time to time to tell me it really pissed them off
that I kept dangling these guys, with good loot, under their noses but never let them
fight them. Side note: up to this point every time they
encounter a “Boss” they’ve gotten a Cinematic. They’re getting used to this. This is usually met with sighs, eye rolls,
and half the group pulling out their phones to fiddle with until I say the beloved words
“Roll initiative”. Am I pissed? Nope. Couldn’t be happier! Fast forward to the end of the campaign. They’ve finally uncovered that there’s an
Archlich behind all this, training necromancers to raise countless hordes of the undead. They’ve finally discovered his lair. They’ve breached his defenses, stormed the
gates, and carved their way to his throne room. They’ve killed everything that could stand
between him and them. The corridor leading up to the throne room
is silent and empty and the party can hear their footsteps ringing on the stone floor
as they stride across the empty space. They are super stoked about this last battle
and finally getting to kill the BBEG. The paladin crashes through the throne room
doors and I say “Roll initiative”. For the first time, the group looks up, uncertain
and confused. Some of them had even started pulling out
their phones expecting a Cinematic and a “cheesy epic BBEG speech”. Also for the first time, I stand up, and roll
the Archlich’s initiative right in front of them. I’ve been doing this a long time and sometimes
I just know when the dice are in my favor. And wouldn’t you know it, the dice gods are
smiling on me; nat 20 on the die. The PCs don’t even come close, but the Paladin
does roll the highest. Since it’s my turn first, I get to take my
time. An evil grin spreads across my face. A year in the making and my patience has finally
come to fruition. I begin to speak: “You stare across the empty room and you see
a wizen old man in plain robes, sitting on the throne staring back at you with eyes that
glow with an unholy eldritch light. He slumps there, looking tired and defeated. In his hand he holds a porcelain latticework
in the shape of a small human heart. It glows with a soft pure white light that
pulses in the rhythm of a heartbeat. He looks down at it and you see pain wash
across his face.” Paladin Player: “I…” DM: “It’s still my turn. Looking up from the heart, he addresses the
party” “After the gods left, people were lost. Many came to me looking for answers, but with
all my knowledge I came up short. What does a wizard know about gods? And then the Plague came. I did the best I could with my limited abilities,
but I’m no healer. People still died… horribly.” He looks back down at the little heart cradled
in his hand, and smiles sadly. “So many died. Pretty soon the dead outnumbered the living
and there weren’t enough hands to tend the farms. Those that survived the Plague were starving
to death. I had to do something… so I turned to necromancy. The dead could till soil. The dead could plant seeds. The dead could harvest the grain, with a little
guidance. I focused all my magic and all my spells on
bringing the dead back. But I am just one man. I wasn’t strong enough. They begged me to teach them, and Light help
me, I did. Pretty soon there were enough ‘Elders’
that I could go back to focusing on finding a cure.” “I told them that their loved ones were
gone, that it was just their bodies left behind. That they were at peace. You have to understand, some had lost their
whole families. Husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, children. I think all the deaths… broke them, somehow. I think they liked to imagine their ‘Kin’
were still there, and I let them. Hope is a fragile thing, you know? In the meantime, I kept looking for a cure
for the Plague and I kept looking for a way to bring the dead all the way back… and
then I got sick.” “You know, I hired adventurers to try to
stop you? I thought there might be some heroes out there
who could defeat you. I bled our coffers dry, but you always won…
you always won.” I knew the symptoms, I’d seen it often enough. It was just a matter of months of wasting
away in agony and then I would be gone too. After years of failure, I almost welcomed
it. I already knew how to beat death by then of
course, but the cost was unspeakable, and I was still looking for another way. His eyes take on a look of puzzled wonder. “But they wouldn’t let me die. They begged me to stay. They begged me to try. They wouldn’t relent. They hounded me relentlessly, until, in a
fit of rage, I told them that it involved the willing sacrifice of a child pure of heart. I figured that would be the end of that. I was such a fool.” He looks down with a sad fond smile, and caresses
the heart gently as tears begin to trickle down his face. She came to me with her mother, my daughter,
and said ‘Grampy, it’s ok. You won’t be sick anymore and then you can
make everyone else not sick anymore!’ She was so brave, my little sunflower. She even looked like a little sunflower that
day, with a riot of little yellow ribbons in her hair… She was still smiling right up to the moment
I took her soul.” “This is all that’s left of her,” gesturing
to the heart. “Her soul keeps me alive. It is ‘between’ somehow. I don’t know what will happen to her if it
is every destroyed. Will she go somewhere evil? Somewhere better? Or will she just be lost to limbo? In all my research I never learned. That fear is the only thing that’s kept me
from smashing it all these years. And the chance to learn how to bring her back.” “Not that it matters now, I suppose. You’ve destroyed my research. You’ve burned all the fields. You’ve destroyed all the ‘Kin’. You’ve slaughtered the ‘Elders’ too. The few living, if you let any survive, will
be dead by next winter from starvation and exposure. Everything is gone, or soon will be.” “With one last look of sorrow he takes the
heart in both hands, kisses it gently, and says ‘Forgive me, Sarah.’ When he crushes the surprisingly delicate
heart, it crumbles to dust. The soft light immediately dissipates and
plunges the room into darkness, save for his two glowing eyes. He stands up with a weary sigh, walks 15 feet
up to the paladin and says ‘Finish it.’” DM *in a chipper voice to Paladin player*:
“Ok, your turn.” Paladin Player with all eyes on him, some
of them quite damp: “Uh, I guess I attack?” As he reaches for his dice I interrupt “Don’t
bother. He’s flat-footed, no armor or defensive spells. Your bonuses are higher than his AC.” Looking for his damage dice, “Then…” DM: “Don’t need to worry about that either. The Plague really did a number on him before
he changed. He’s only got 1 hp. He’s dead. And that heart was his phylactery in case
you didn’t gather, so he’s dead dead. Congratulations. You won. You rule an empty kingdom, from a decaying
castle, surrounded by a barren wasteland of death and destruction wrought by your own
hands. The end. The silence was deafening. Are we the baddies.jpg? These players learned that actions have consequences. How would you have handled a group of players
like this? Did I perhaps go overboard, a tiny bit, at
least? Please let us know and comment below! Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel,
All Things DnD. Our next video will be posted in 3 days, so
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Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. nice switch flip! my bbeg was a paly warlock that had been with the party the entire session for a whole year! like rl time!

  2. The way you talk at me makes this video super annoying. It's not even informational, it's like you are doing the worlds longest and worst Casey Kasem impression.

  3. Truth be told, if this had actually happened, then the players would have either tuned out during the speech or finagled the DM because a round lasts six seconds. I know that speech is a free action, but they still would have tried. The proper ending would have been as follows:
    1. Hold the cinematic but tell the players to roll initiative the moment they start checking out. If they ask why, then tell them that since their characters weren't going to listen anyway, the cinematic was skipped. Tell them the important part, however, that the necromancer crushed his phylactery.
    2. Allow the Paladin to instapop the necromancer as intended.
    3. Give them their loot.
    4. End the session, promising them that the campaign isn't quite over. Remind them of the group of mercenaries that you've been hinting at the entire time, and tell them that the REAL fight will take place NEXT session.
    5. Next session, fastforward to them leaving the lair. Let the players decide where they are going to go, but start policing how they expend their rations.
    6. They are running out of food and haven't seen ANYONE in their travels. No animals to hunt, no people to murder, and no plants to forage. The complaining starts now.
    7. Start keeping track of exhaustion as they begin to starve.
    8. At the third level of exhaustion, they catch the plague that the necromancer was trying to cure.
    9. The complaining reaches its climax and you, the DM, tell them that they have had multiple opportunities to avoid this fate.
    10. They disagree, but you continue on as though nothing is wrong. As they face higher and higher levels of exhaustion, their characters might decide to turn to cannibalism to stave off hunger. THIS is where they FINALLY realize that THEY were the adventurers killing everything in sight. Thus begins the real fight, against each other.
    11. After the survivors of the PvP encounter die a few days later, resulting in a TKO, you explain the storyline that they had chosen to ignore the entire time (albeit in a condensed fashion). You explain that they had killed everyone in a land already struggling to survive a plague. You congratulate them, pick up your stuff, and leave.

  4. So here's the thing though, unless you changed it in the campaign setting undead are Evil. Associating with them and raising them from the dead are evil acts, if this hasn't been changed then the players aren't doing anything wrong by killing them and the necromancers.

  5. the second the dm pointed out the nerve they had to pull out their phones and ignore dialogue that disrespectfulyl i didnt care what the dm did. those players were assholes, even if they werent undead/necromancers they are the definition of murderhobos

  6. That slap across the face is what those players needed… If they wanted a murder hobo campaign it should have been established in session 0… To come to that agreement and just slaughter all is just wrong…

  7. Shitty "chaotic neutral" PCs <kills the necro village>
    Real chaotic neutral PCs<invents pyramid scheme and scams necro village>

  8. The great BBEG I've always longed to kill was always me, and it took an Arch-Lich to tell me what a real fu*king @$$hole I've been. Good story, Kafka; 'You've always been the gatekeeper!'

  9. As a dungeon dragons team for about 20 years I say they got what they deserved they got action adventure they killed everything they slaughtered everything that is killing the definition for chaotic neutral for nothing

  10. I thought chaotic neutral would be more of "wait, what do I do? What am I supposed to do? What the fuck is going on?!"

  11. I would have had the murderhobo party up against an alliance of celestials and devils, which they might be able to defeat at any one encounter, but they'd never get in a long rest again after that. It would just be relentless encounter after encounter until they were broken down from attrition.

    Even the forces of good and evil will stand up against having their playground stolen, so you will see Lawful Good and Lawful Evil band together to defeat Chaotic "Neutral" that is completely flattening the one place celestials and infernals are allowed to openly fight for dominance.

    There are always forces at work that are bigger than the party, even if they're 20th level legends. Usually the reason characters can act freely is that those bigger forces simply don't care. It's like watching an ant colony. If the ants are aggressively burning everything in their path, then the extraplanar curators are going to NOPE on them, but otherwise they're content to sit back and watch, and maybe underhandedly meddle a little bit.

  12. I'm glad he found a way to make this fun for himself and hit the party with his big reveal, but personally I don't think I could bring myself to spend a year DMing for a terrible group just to be able to say "ha, take that!" at the end.

  13. i mean. i don't really see what "lesson" this group of players learned. they just all seem like assholes. While tricking them into not giving them what they wanted with the whole "turns out you're not heroes" thing was cool and all, i don't really think that they learned anything in particular. unless there's some extra context i missed out on?

  14. Yeah, if they didn't realize their mistake, they sure did now.

    Paladin's god: "Well, congrats. You are all going to starve to death as there is no food at all. I'll be waiting for you in Hell to give you your JUST reward, mwa ha ha!" XD

    Paladin: "Maybe… we shouldn't have been assholes…." ;_;

    I love this story. Shows that not all necromancy is evil-intended.

  15. The whole point of DnD is to immerse yourself in different world. What's the point of "playing" if you don't pay attention to that world? The fun is finding creative solutions to problems, kinda hard to do that if you breaze past every attempt at world building.

  16. Ummm am I missing something? How in the heck can a paladin be Chaotic Neutral? A requirement of the class is that all paladins must be Lawful Good. Has D&D really changed THAT much since the last time I played? Or did this DM have a house rule that says that paladins can be of any alignment?

  17. I call BS. There is no way those players cared about the story in the end. The probably saw it coming but kept killing stuff.

  18. Meanwhile I'm trying to play NWN1 as an evil aligned wizard/necromancer… and I ended up switching alignment because I kept being nice to people.

  19. Woah. That was deep. It definitely wasn't a happy story, and definitely not a campaign I would ever run. However, it was a badass way to show the results of pure evil.

  20. If my character was with this group, i would have defected and join the old grandpa and help make a trap to kill the group, like a cave disguised as a dungeon and make it their unmarked grave, and have them die famous, not as a hero, but as a horrible memory.

  21. The better story is how is it that DMs end up with groups with which they have a hostile, adversarial relationship

  22. If this isn't a movie already it should be. Would be a great story for many. The message is just so pure, but filled with action.
    Great video tho will, will subscribe of it.

  23. I. Love. This. My players haven't gotten this bad. We're intentionally playing a Neutral/Evil campaign (only 1 is Evil so far and I forced that one after is sacrificed a 14-year-old girl to Umberlee) and they're pirates. They've done questionable things and tortured other pirates but haven't outright slaughtered innocents (yet). As it is a darker campaign, I don't feel it's right to punish them if they go full Chaotic Evil, but at the same time I like the "actions have consequences" motif and am not opposed to introducing some, ahem, Crusaders of Justice (see: Pirate Hunters). It's too bad we've established that this isn't Faerun and I can't use Drizzt in his pirate hunting days.

  24. I do have a single issue with the story. Studying Druidry or Clerical arts would have been more effective than Necromancy. Druids have Goodberry and Clerics have Conjure Food and Drink (not sure if the spells work the same in 3.5e as I've only ever done 5e). If the people truly sought Necromancy over the other, more practical skills, they weren't exactly innocent.

  25. It's a lot easier to just put them in a situation that they can't handle. "Dude, no fair. I had no chance against that thing." "I did say that that thing was a lot bigger than normal. Weren't you listening? Oh, wait. You interrupted me before I could get to that part."

  26. If they were on their phones during monologuing before initiative is rolled then I highly doubt they wouldn't go to their phones when they could tell this was going to be monologuing.

  27. D&d claims to be the game where you can be anything and do anything but right off the bat you cut my options down and say I can't be evil lol fuck off what a shit dm what's the point if I have to roleplay garen all day

  28. While the story was interesting I would say it came from the wrong place. You ended up just being vindictive to your players.
    In truth it is clear you weren't having fun because you and your players wanted 2 very different games and you didn't want to talk to them about your grievances.
    You should have asked them to play along because you weren't having fun, and if they didn't leave. Or, you could have made a new combat centric campaign that was fun for you and them. I would set in the ravenloft campaign setting where everything is fucked anyways. The players could end up becoming the next Strahd.

  29. Is there a version of d&d that lets you play a chaotic paladin core? I thought they had to be lawful good generally.

  30. i mean i understand wanting to play an asshole character but don't actually be an asshole player. Pulling out phone while you talk i hope they were paying you to DM or something because that's a dick move why even play if you don't care about the story.

  31. Can someone explain the point of declaring a player's moral status before the game? Don't their choices in play have more plot impact than an artificial label?

  32. My characters are always chaotic good and dish out good in whatever way they see fit, even if it means breaking the law
    And I’ve never seen any chaotic neutral characters be used to this extent

  33. In your video you asked towards the end if you had went overboard. As both a Pathfinder player in dungeon Master running on almost 10 years. This literally brought a joy to my heart. I always loved narration, and I am a firm believer in detailed exposition. And when my players really didn't respect it it would really get to me because I felt like that I was just narrating badly. On the flip side being a player I would always do whatever I could to get myself immersed into the Lore of my dungeon Masters world. I would play bards, rogues, knowledge skills that served no purpose other then to know who that high elf with the nice ribbons was.

    As such, this video made me a subscriber. Thank you.

  34. "No evil PCs."
    "If they weren't raping and pillaging, they were outright killing every …"

    Um. Sounds like evil to me. Just tell the player that their character has crossed the line from CN to CE and is therefore – according to the rules that player agreed to in Session Zero – no longer a playable character.

    You can't just say, "No evil PCs." You have to be willing to enforce it. Won't be long before even the densest player works out that CN is not an option that lets them do whatever, but an option that is right on the knife edge of becoming unplayable.

  35. No evil PCs. Meh.

    Best Evil PCs are the ones you aren't sure are evil.

    I often play a Evil PC, but I often play the concept as being strongly "Enlightened selfishness"

  36. Dude this is an amazing story, not just the ingame part, but also from a real life point of view, you being able to keep up the idea that they where killing evil (most players, my self included at times see necromancy as an evil art), and letting them go through this.

    I bet their expressions where priceless as you said "your turn"

  37. My main point is this: the primary job and first responsibility of the DM is to make sure that the players have fun playing the game.

    It's a game. It's supposed to be fun for the players.

    You, as the DM, are in the wrong if you punish players and intentionally sabotage their enjoyment because "I don't like how they play".

    If this story is real, then it's a clear sign that you need to stop being a DM and pass the mantle onto somebody who cares more about the human beings at the table than the imaginary NPCs you've created.

  38. All these stories of "how I punished the players for being dicks" are always depicting your average group of "beer&pretzel"-style players as cartoon villains. I don't really believe people can be that stupid and that ignorant. For a year. It's really unbelievable, unless you're DMing for a bunch of really spoiled 16-year-olds. Not to mention that the whole idea of You're_bad_and_you_should_feel_bad.jpg story just screams pettiness. Anyway, this all started with "I haven't played for a while and then there was this group…" – they were a single minded group that got together to play their rapey-pillagey games, and the _DM_, somehow, takes upon himself the task of "punishing" them for "playing wrong"? Excuse me, this is kinda bullshit, since it's the DM this time who's not matching the group. It's better to not play if you don't match, than to giggle to yourself with all that "soon, soon they shall know despair!". This "shall know despair" shit should A) be consensual, B) a game talked about in advance. Dumping this on people who get together to have _fun_, whatever it is for them, is just being a dick. And "I have no one better to play with so I'll just go be a dick to those people whose style of game I don't really like" is all to common, and you should feel bad about it.

  39. Rulers of an empty barren wasteland? What the hell were these power hungry tools thinking? Always wait for the Narrative if it's beneficial to the party and Story Arc.. damned fools.

  40. Murderhobo here: at a certain point you're just not playing the game anymore. DnD is a bad combat sim, playing it like they did sounds like a waste of time to me.

  41. This was depressing my god im crying here at work i never was chaotic just neutral good or evil man im a fool…..

  42. haha, beautiful has it is justice, I love it.
    How broken where your players… at that turn out, I wonder?
    but from how you describe them… probably not broken at all, just a WTF moment. Then back to looking at their cells.

    Loved your end bosses story to. Wish my DM/GM had that kind of drive…

  43. The moment they mentioned the marauding band of mercenaries I guessed where it was going.

    That the players didn't was hilarious.

  44. Is it possible to play a chaotic neutral character without actually being evil at all? Like, someone who, when forced to choose, would rather do something good than harmful but otherwise doesn't go out of their way to do good things. Or is that technically a different alignment. I am new to the system and trying to figure my character out.

  45. I couldn't finish listening to this, because it just feels like intellectual masochism on the part of the DM. Just… Don't play with psycho kids instead of humoring them for a year or so like this.

  46. Chaotic Neutral does NOT mean Chaotic Evil or completely uncaring. The doctor from Doctor Who is a good example of Chaotic Neutral.

  47. In every session 0 I break down what the alignments mean in my campaign. That good is just simply a strong conscience and evil is the lack of one. And that what I ultimately want is for them to be true to their character, and if their alignment changes as a result, I will tell them AFTER their decision so it doesn't affect their choice, with the exception of clerics and the like that cannot leave their alignment restrictions without losing favor. Because of this, chaotic neutral means you are selfish. You're not out here to murder people or make friends, but you will if it's beneficial for you

  48. I hate how half of my D&D group plays Good aligned characters, because it basically prevents my Chaotic Neutral cleric from engaging in roleplay quite often.

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