I have a half-orc character that was brought up by orcs to be evil. While he was growing up his human conscience used to give him doubts about what he was doing but he ignored it.

Then something happened that caused his human side to take control and he fought to keep his human side on top. His conscience told him to make amends for what he'd done.

From time to time his orc side takes over. It appears like he had a split personality. Is it possible for his human side to have a good alignment while his orc side has an evil alignment?

  • \$\begingroup\$ See also this related question. Would the alignment of a character with multiple personality disorder change? \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Feb 6, 2016 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw that question but I didn't appear to answer my question and was also closed. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2016 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ When exactly does the orc side take over? In specific situation? Or can he "hulk out" at will like barbarian rage? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Feb 6, 2016 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ That bit I'm not quite sure of. If he spends time with orcs, his Orc side tries to surface. An elf he rescued tries to keep his human side on top. He will go into isolation to try and sort his mind out of who he wants to be. However the DM said he might introduce occasions where his evil Orc side tries to emerge. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2016 at 22:45

6 Answers 6


From my understanding of the alignment in 5e, it is more representing your general behavior than the other way around.

So if you are more of a good human, then your alignment will be good. If you are more of an evil orc, then your alignment will be evil. If you are about 50/50, then you are neutral.

I would not foresee your alignment as swinging back and forth just because of a boost of anger here and there.


Sure, but alignment barely exists in 5e

There's no rules in 5e on how to simulate a character with a debilitating mental disorder like this. Assigning a different alignment to each personality is sensible, and you could possibly even make a disease condition based on the Helm of Opposite Alignment (sadly gone in 5e) to control the switch.

What would this do rule-wise? Almost nothing.

  • There are no player-character accessible effects in 5e that work off of alignment. No spells to detect it, no smites that base damage off it (they work off type instead), no classes that require it.
  • A sprite can use Heart Sight to find a creatures true alignment so if a player can summon they could find alignments out that way.
  • Two artifacts work based on alignment. The Book of Exalted deeds harms evil creatures that try to use it and The Book of Vile Darkness turns you neutral evil if you try to use it and lets you try to dominate evil creatures.

Alignment, in 5e, is really just for roleplay purposes. So the best solution for a character with two warring personalities is to think about what it means for how the character acts and then play it out.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That's the sprite, you can read this answer about that: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/72748/… \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2016 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not familiar with the abbreviations. You think you could clarify RAW, PC and RP for me please? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2016 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RichardYoung Sure, I've expanded the acronyms. For future reference RAW means rules-as-written, PC means player-character, and RP means roleplay or roleplaying. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ceribia
    Feb 6, 2016 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Thanks, I hadn't looked at the artifacts list. I've added some info about artifacts that work based on alignment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ceribia
    Feb 7, 2016 at 3:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ The revision touched on a lot of good points and earned from me a +1. Well played. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2016 at 3:18

Because there is no direct rule based correspondence with alignment, it wouldn't make any impact on the game mechanically. Because it is solely a role-play feature, there wouldn't be any reason as to why it shouldn't be allowed. As long as you, your DM and other players are comfortable, I'd say it's a green light.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If it does change like that, how long would it change for? It seems to me that alignment changes do not occur quickly unless because of magic. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2016 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is something that would be worked around and considered between the DM and the Player. Usually in this situation I tend to refer to confines of real nature in order to discern a logical reason for it. Personalities do change over time, it might take years however, but some disorders such as Bi-polar, Dissociative Identity Disorder can encourage rapid change in personality (or alignment, if you will) very rapidly. In the even of a magic item or spell changing the alignment, I'd expect it changed the alignment currently active, potentially make a split evil or good aligned character. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2016 at 11:53

I don't think this is so much an alignment question as it is perhaps for how to use personality traits.

Alignment in 5e seems to be more of an aspiration rather than a confining factor. I.e. "My paladin is lawful good and so does his best to uphold justice and represent the common good"

And use the personality traits to describe how your character is conflicted and some of the circumstances that may cause this conflict or even shifting of personality so that it is playable. Your your half Orc is good, that's why he feels bad when he transgresses and why he needs to make amends when it happens. That might even make him a candidate for chaotic good because although he may believe in justice, sometimes he gets tripped up.



If your character were struggling with his conscience, I'd argue for a single alignment. With an actual split personality, meaning that the orc side takes over every so often (triggers and rules are important, here*), your character could absolutely have multiple alignments. Something to look into is how the mind works when different personalities take over: Your good self wouldn't know what happened when they came around unless someone told them. They would only know what happened from the moment their persona switched back on. You would have the same physique, but a completely different psyche (memory, moods, methods, everything) for each character.

* Triggers for Switching:

Switches can be triggered by a wide range of stimuli. Cognitive stimuli, such as depressive trains of thought (Seligman, 1975; Beck, 1976), anniversary reactions (Hilgard & Newman, 1969), social situations or expectations may lead to state changes. Self-induced volitional state changes probably occur in most individuals. Bunney et al. (1972) found that discussions of passes or discharge planning often appeared to trigger switches into mania. Sensory stimuli are powerful triggers of state change, particularly for evoking dissociative or anxiety states. Researchers studying dissociative and anxiety reactions in posttraumatic stress disorder make use of auditory and/or visual stimuli that are similar to combat sights and sounds to evoke abreactions and anxiety reactions (Dobbs & Wilson, 1960; Kolb, 1987), though cognitive imagery techniques can be. equally effective (Pitman et al., 1987). Olfactory (Kline & Rausch, 1985) and tactile stimuli can likewise be powerful cues for triggering a switch into a dissociative or anxiety state.

(“Switch Process in Multiple Personality Disorder and Other State-Change Disorders”, Frank W. Putnam, M.D. )

That being said, despite what a lot of the answers here are saying about alignment being unimportant, there are a more than a few items in the game that require a specific alignment to use, and/or have disastrous reactions when held by people of an opposing alignment. The knowledge is purely meta, but the good and evil tomes and talismans can do a solid number on you if you're holding them while you are the opposing alignment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's more a case of conscience. His Orc side has none but his human side does. He is trying to keep his human side on top but his Orc side could surface at times. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 13, 2016 at 0:29

Eh, I don't see why not. It's an interesting character idea, and there are no rules specifically using alignments, so you can totally do it within the rules.

Also, that's a really cool idea, and I need to try that!


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