As far as I can tell from different sources about alignments, chaotic evil characters just do "evil for evil's sake", and are quite unpredictable and easy to provoke.

Now, can such a character follow rules? What I mean is, for example a chaotic-evil summon:

A sorcerer summons (or creates) some sort of chaotic evil creature (demon, monster, whatever) but forces it to be loyal (either by magic or fear). This creature is free to destroy and wreck havoc - but that master gave it ONE order: "Protect and don't kill person X"

If we go by alignments, would a chaotic evil creature follow that order?

If yes, can it still be considered chaotic evil then?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Which version/edition of D&D are you asking this about? The guidance on alignment varies between editions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Provide a specific edition as Korvin requested, and we might be able to provide you with something sensible. Otherwise you're going to get conflicting answers from... lots of different sources. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Avoiding debate on the nature of alignment is the main reason questions like this often get closed, and it would be appreciated if the comments are not used for it. I've removed a number of comments that debate alignment definitions or unintentionally invite such debate (and marked comments asking for restraint from debating it as obsolete). Thanks for the help keeping the site running smoothly! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Yes, I noticed - actually, I wasn't focused on a specific edition since I thought that it'ld be the same over all of them! \$\endgroup\$
    – Katai
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 17:13

4 Answers 4


Yes, any creature that can comprehend orders can follow them if circumstances allow it.

Whether that Chaotic Evil monstrosity would want to follow orders is a different matter.

There are two facets to this question: alignment posing restrictions on behaviour and ability to force CE creature to compliance. Let's start with the latter.

Magic is definitely an option. If you can use it, the orders will be followed. Mind control, Compulsion, Domination will override any resistance if successful. You mention using fear - this might be tricky as some CE creatures wouldn't fear death or pain, especially if they are banished when they die. However you can definitely pull it off - being CE does not mean you are a frenzied death avatar all the time. Survival, well-being and logic can still apply. Orcs from LotR can be described as Chaotic Evil, but they can be mustered into armies and follow orders most of the time. They might hate it, but it also gives them ability to inflict suffering on others, which they cherish more than their personal liberty.

Second facet is restrictions on behaviour posed by alignment.

There are no hard restrictions

Alignment does not specify how a creature should act in any one discrete situation. It does not decide player's choices for them. Instead, it serves as the reminder of what the average, overall conduct of the creature is. The idea is that a Lawful Good creature can commit a brutal crime - but that creature would try to morally justify it somehow. It's often referred to "risking one's alignment" and when done frequently a smart GM would challenge that person's alignment. Note that it does not apply to actions done under compulsion. If someone controls your mind and you shoot someone, are you a murderer? Most likely not: you were a tool, not the actor.

In that light your Chaotic Evil summoned creature will hate your guts for trying to order it around and will likely resist your orders. If you magically control it, it is compelled to comply and will act as you desire. If you bribe or convince the creature to follow your orders otherwise, it can do so, even if it would be risking one's alignment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would recommend using "creature" or "creature/character" rather than "character" since the question as asked applies to either a character or a monster/NPC. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ This nomenclature offends me ! If it can comprehend orders, it has a mind ! Therefore, it is a Character ! Stop the discrimination ! #CreaturesAreCharactersToo #YesAllPCs \$\endgroup\$
    – Nigralbus
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nigralbus If you look at the title question, that is why I made that suggestion -- to ensure the answer matched up with the question. The attempt at humor is appreciated. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, alignment is not a form of mind control. Search for "why good people do bad things" on your favorite search engine to find lots of real life examples of people engaging in behavior not strictly conforming to their alignment. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:18

Rule following would go against the chaos/law metric, and really doesn't concern good vs. evil. In general, a chaotic character wouldn't be prone to following rules or orders, but could at least try to do so if he's been impressed with the fact that disobedience will be punished. This kind of obedience out of fear can be very effective if the fear is deeply ingrained; less so if the punishment is minor compared to the pleasure or stress reduction of acting freely, or if the creature has the slightest reason to believe it won't actually be applied.

Bottom line for the question as asked is: can the summoner make the summoned creature believe that disobeying that one order would be very, very bad (possibly worse than simply being killed -- long duration torture, imprisonment under very inimical conditions, etc.)? If that belief is unquestioned (perhaps ingrained by demonstration), and the creature isn't too scatter-brained to remember it in the crunch, I see no reason a chaotic creature couldn't follow a small set of simple orders.

Of course, the training process might make the creature prone to "forgetting" who summoned and ostensibly controls it...


Note: the actual distinctions depend on your interpretation of the rules, but...

Chaotic does not mean "just for sake".

Lawful means that you follow some codex of action, it can be written law, tradition, or a set of personal ideals/beliefs.

Chaotic means that you are not bound on the type of actions that you will take / abide to to achieve your goal (note: this isn't a moral aspect, that's for Good vs Evil).

Chaotic may very well follow "rules". A chaotic good person won't go around killing (evil) peoples on the spot just because it's again the law, but won't have a problem breaking the law for a good end.

So, back on the question: if the creature is magically forced to obey the instructions at the best of its abilities, then it will because magic.

If it's magically forced unless it has something painful happen (i.e. take dmg), then it may break the rules if pushed too hard. Same for "fear".

In both cases, it will likely try to circumnavigate the rules if these do not align with its own interests.

For example it may try to break the spell (is it concentration? Then it may try to break it on the caster), or trying to protect the person while at the same time putting them in danger (let's cut through the minefield, it's faster!)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. Robin Hood, the "gentleman thief" who "robbed the rich and gave to the poor" is often given as typifying a CG character. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:27

TL;DR: Yes and Yes

More detailed response to your two part question

This answer is for D&D 5e. Depending upon how important alignment behavior is in a campaign in another edition, you could apply this to other editions as well.

  • A chaotic alignment does not require any creature to behave against its own self interest
  • For a given task or situation, there is no requirement to make alignment the overriding factor in a decision by a creature or character.
  • For a given task or situation, there is no requirement to change alignment if it seems outside of the normal behaviors of the creature or character.

Basic Rules p. 33

A typical creature in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons has an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes. Alignment is a combination of two factors: one identifies morality (good, evil, or neutral), and the other describes attitudes toward society and order (lawful, chaotic, or neutral).

It can be argued that chaotic alignments trend toward self-interest being the overriding motivation of a given creature or character.

If we go by alignments, would a chaotic evil creature follow that order?

Yes, see two part answer below.

If yes, can it still be considered chaotic evil then?

Yes, see citations from the rules.

Basic Rules p. 34

... alignments describe the typical behavior of a creature with that alignment. Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior...
* Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect.
* Chaotic neutral (CN) creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else.
* Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust.

The essence of this answer is that role playing and appealing to the motivations of the character or creature as a real entity, not some two dimensional tool, is the best way to get a character or creature to do your bidding.

1. Your example of a summoned demon:

Any summoner has to establish dominance over the demon/devil, be it by power (magical effect) or by persuasion (you get this benefit if you do that for me) -- or a combination of both. It is in that second part that the puzzle to getting a chaotic evil, or any other chaotic creature, to follow your orders is going to firm up in cases where alignment is an overriding concern. It doesn't have to be, by default. (See the rules citation above).

  • Appeal to its self interest.

    • Consider "What's in it for me?" as seen from the PoV of the creature in question. This usually takes some role playing.
      • In the case of entities from other planes, know who you are dealing with!
    • Lore and research on what a particular kind of demon, or what a particular named demon, likes or dislikes becomes part of the preparation stage of the summoning.
  • Apply both carrot and stick

    • The threat of magical punishment or other dire consequence, combined with an appeal to its wants and desires makes it easier to get a summoned creature to do your bidding. In some cases, pure magical compulsion may do it, but in others it won't.
    • The "carrot and stick" psychology resolves to convincing the creature to take this PoV: "If I follow orders I get this benefit, and I also avoid this bad consequence." That should get it to perform for you as desired.

2. NPC's/Other Monsters

Getting a generally undisciplined or erratic (chaotic) NPC or monster to do what you want it to follows roughly the same template, and also involves role-playing.

  • Establish the positional power/authority (you are the boss)

  • Know who you are dealing with.

  • Don't treat the NPC as a disposable tool.

  • Appeal to its self interest via both reward and punishment

  • Apply the carrot and the stick, and make sure to make an example of (punish) any entity that does not follow through. (This is with a campaign and a series of encounters in mind).
    • If your reputation is that you reward getting the job done and punish failure, the next NPC you try to get to achieve a task for you will know the consequences of not delivering.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great points. Han Solo, a classic example of the CN archetype, is in plenty of situations where he is willing to "make a deal" if he feels he will benefit from it. If things start going a different direction, he also doesn't feel much guilt in abandoning the deal. If the deal stays advantageous, he has no reason to abandon it. He had no qualms about enlisting in the Imperial forces and obeying orders that made sense to him. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:23

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