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So, if you're playing a generic "Monkey see, monkey take" type rogue who steals from everyone and gives to himself, is there any way you could justify being any alignment other than chaotic neutral? (Also applicable: true neutral, neutral evil, chaotic evil, and in certain cases I suppose chaotic good.)

How could someone create a rogue/thief build with an alignment other than chaotic neutral?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by KorvinStarmast, Oblivious Sage, eimyr, KRyan, Joshua Aslan Smith Dec 3 '15 at 18:07

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Yes, you could justify being any alignment other than Chaotic Neutral. How you do it is based on the story you want to tell about your character.

TL;DR

First figure out who this Rogue is, beyond just someone who steals, and then figure out what alignment best fits this Rogue.

Amplification

  1. Your class does not define your alignment.
  2. Even a broad play style, as you described (steal what you can for yourself) need not define your alignment, though it can inform how your DM adjudicates your alignment to the extent that he cares about it.
  3. You can easily justify Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil, Chaotic Good, and Neutral, even Lawful Evil, as a grabby Rogue just using the outlines in the Basic Rules.

Summarized from the Basic Rules pp. 33 & 34 (Same language in PHB).

A typical creature in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons has an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes.

Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment.

Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect.

Neutral (N) is the alignment of those who prefer to steer clear of moral questions and don’t take sides, doing what seems best at the time.

Lawful evil (LE) creatures methodically take what they want, within the limits of a code of tradition, loyalty, or order.

Neutral evil (NE) is the alignment of those who do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms.

Cases

  1. LE Rogue: either a member of a Thieve's Guild, or a Thief who was taught a particular moral code as a youngster, and steals based on that ethos. Since you have not fleshed out this character beyond a single sentence description in your question, you can easily fold in a "look out for number one" attitude and then lay detailed plans for each theft because you are loyal to:

    • Your family name
    • Never being poor again
    • Your Guild encourages maxing out the take, and you keep just a bit off the top for yourself because you've seen what happens to rogues who lose their touch ... no pension plan!

    • Summary: flesh out who this character some more, and you can make it LE with little trouble.

  2. NE Rogue: do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms. Almost perfectly described your short summary right there.

  3. N Rogue: seems like a good idea at this time to steal that loaf of bread, I'm hungry. Rinse and repeat for any temptation to steal.

  4. CG Rogue: takes things because it's an old habit from stealing food to survive on the mean streets of Luskan, but gets a crushing case of conscience (Mom would not be proud of me, Dad would roll over in his grave) and then either returns it or donates it to a worthy cause. That is a step toward your CG.
  5. CE Rogue: you not only take whatever you want whenever you want to, you get a kick out of stealing from the handicapped and stick a shiv into anyone who gets in the way.

So how does that help me with creating this Rogue?

The point of the above amplification is that you need to flesh out who this rogue is in much more detail than a simple alignment description.

Once you know who this Rogue is, you then figure out what alignment will fit that Rogue best. The PHB has a set of tables at the end of the Backgrounds sections that provides more character flaws, ideals, traits, and bonds to help you add depth to "Rogue/Thief, of some alignment."

Your own imagination does the rest.

While you are at it, you need to fit your rogue to the Campaign setting you are in. Talk to your DM about that part of your character development.

Alignment by itself offers insufficient depth for your character.

As a last thought, why be a "typical Rogue/Thief" in the first place? Be unique.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What about LG?? \$\endgroup\$ – ohmusama Dec 9 '15 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm tempted to cite Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini as a LG pirate who is forced by circumstances (war, politics etc) to steal ships and do heists just to survive :) Had a tough time convincing his true love he was still LG underneath it all... \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Jan 4 '16 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ How about a rogue like Robin Hood? He's lawful because he lives by a code to only steal from the rich. He's good because he puts the welfare of others before himself. In general, alignment isn't what you do. It's why you do it. \$\endgroup\$ – Eric Jul 6 at 5:40
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Justify anything

In times where people justify wars with weapons of mass destruction that do not even exist, "justifying" something is just a measure of social engineering. Know your GM well? You can probably justify why you should be allowed to backstab that undead slime with your two-handed horn-of-continous-honking. After all, slimes are deaf anyway, right?

Common Sense

A person stealing is not lawful. By no law. A person stealing for himself is chaotic. That's common sense. But obviously a person is not that one-dimensional. A person that's "the thief" should get a personality before it's allowed to be called a "character". So if stealing for personal gain is just a small part of his or her personality, maybe the other part is stronger.

Going Rogue

A rogue does not need to be a thief. Or even a criminal. With the skill set you could be a lot of things. Private eye? Police? Guard? Dancer? Special Forces? You could craft intricate works of art instead of traps. Or maybe you are a criminal. Who says you need to steal from the rich and innocent. Every city has a ton of rich and criminal elements. No need to stalk boring peasants for petty change when you can stalk a serial killer for a high bounty. With the amount of skill points, you could probably make a good lawyer or taxman. Why steal illegally when you can have the law on your side. I'm sure that a lawful evil rogue can make a shitload of money, too. Just not by petty theft. Stray from the stereotype and you can be anything you want to be.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What he said, look at Richard Feynman, real life scientist who cracked safes just for the fun of puzzling. If he actually stole anything it's not mentioned in the autobiography... \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Jan 4 '16 at 11:58
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Well, lawful doesn't mean you follow all laws. Lawful means you follow a set of rules, like a code of conduct for a thieves guild. Maybe you have your own personal code of thievery where you only steal from the rich or you never lie. Such things constitute a lawful alignment. Just because you're a thief doesn't mean you can't be orderly and on occasion, restrain yourself.

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It could be a compulsion. Maybe the character would never break another law, and regularly goes and gives to the needy, but they just have this "need" to steal, and can't stop themselves. I could see that character having an alignment of lawful good.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's an interesting way of looking at it, but I think a character with those qualities would be better suited as chaotic good. At heart they are a good person, but they cause chaos with their need to steal. \$\endgroup\$ – FinchIV Dec 3 '15 at 17:13

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