Neither Superhero Nor Supervillain Be: Rules For Neutrals

Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that’s not true. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.” ~Robert Orben

Whatevah…I do what I want!

Every time I’ve taken the Dungeons and Dragons Character Alignment test (a sample of which can be found at, I come up as either Lawful Neutral or True Neutral. For those of us who aren’t hardcore gamers or lovers of literary archetypes, neutral pretty much means you don’t take sides.

This may sound strange coming from me. I have so many strong opinions on so many subjects. When I was ten, I told my parents I wanted to be the next Rush Limbaugh (not necessarily because I agreed with his opinions, but because I thought it might be cool to spout my own opinions for three hours a day on the air and get paid handsomely for it.) If you really want me to get fired up, ask me what I think about the current state of American politics. For the record, I’m a proud independent, and I believe both major parties have contributed to our current sad, sordid state of affairs. I vote in every election in which I’m eligible, from president to school board members, I occasionally volunteer for causes, anything from autism awareness to animal rescues, and I’ve been known to write fiery letters to the editor or to companies whose “message” offends me. Never have taken part in one of those protest marches we often see on television, but I’m still young.

So why am I neutral? I always associated that word with moderates, with “mugwumps,” with wishy-washy types who might side with one faction or the other depending on which way the wind blew.

As Treebeard, leader of the Ents, explains to Merry and Pippin in The Lord of the Rings, “I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you undertand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays.” This is a good definition of a Lawful Neutral, or perhaps a True Neutral. He is concerned for his own benefit, for that of his kind, and the woods that are their home. Only when the encroaching threat of Isengard gets too close to the woods does he take action.

These trees fight back!

Neutrality, in history, is such a touchy and difficult subject. It can be argued that millions of lives might have been saved if certain individuals or parties had not been neutral; had taken a stand against what were clearly forces of evil. (I’m thinking especially of the Vatican’s stance of neutrality toward the Third Reich during World War II, though there are countless examples.)

At the same time, there is always a counterargument. To cite yet another example from Dr. Grandin’s Animals in Translation, “shyer” animals, or those less likely to investigate, are actually much more likely to survive in the wild. The most elusive fish never get caught, and the wiliest deer avoid hunters. Whether this is sheer dumb luck or a personality bent is a subject for debate, but research seems to indicate that animals, like people, have varying degrees of extrovert and introvert tendencies.

Getting back to how this has related to me personally: I am almost a textbook introvert. I dislike getting involved in social affairs and tangled relationships. My idea of a fun Friday night might involve a quiet viewing of Dr. Who or a difficult crossword puzzle. It’s doubtful that it involves others. This is difficult to understand for most NTs and/or extroverts, but it’s normal for me. I’m just shy. Whether this is attributable to my AS, some genetic sequence, my upbringing, or a combination of these factors, I don’t know. Another hard thing for those people-persons to understand about me: unless I have a personal stake in the issue or some sort of existing interest, chances are I will not get involved. Sounds harsh, I know.

I don’t like to consider myself a selfish person. One of the focuses of my life, as I’ve gotten older, has been to live simply so that others may simply live. It’s a beautiful little maxim that really has nothing to do with religion or creed. In fact, I try to give as much as I can to charity, conserve energy, recycle, drive an energy-efficient vehicle, drop off food to the food bank or animal shelter…any number of things.

The real archetype I aspire to is somewhere between the slightly tormented superhero (the classical Lawful Neutral fits this trope; think Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker) and the Shaman/Wise Hermit, representative of the True Neutral. These solitary types remain alone for long periods of time, often devoting energy to meditation or esoterica, only to appear when the time is right to enlighten a hero(ine) or to fight the good fight. If we want to look at Lord of the Rings once more, think of Lord Elrond: content to remain at Rivendell under the protective magic of the Elven people, yet forced to intercede when the threat of Mordor becomes too great. Or Lady Galadriel, who lives the life of an aloof mystic, but whose gifts allow Frodo and Sam to survive on their quest. One could even make an argument for Gandalf as this type of character (his Sindarin epithet, Mithrandir, translates to “Grey Pilgrim.”) I’ve loved a number of these fictional characters without ever knowing why: Master Yoda, the eccentric, aged Obi-wan Kenobi of A New Hope, the baboon shaman Rafiki of The Lion King, the enigmatic Rousseau in Lost. None of them could be described as evil; if anything, they’re mostly on the side of good.

Never interrupt the master's meditation!

I can only hope I live long enough to be a mentor to some young hero or heroine one day. I’m not quite there yet. In the meantime, I’m proud to be a True Neutral. I think I have true objectivity, and I’m principled without being bigoted, which is a hard line to walk. If I were a judge or referee, I believe I truly would be impartial. And because I’m a True Neutral, I’m more able to sit on the periphery and constantly observe.

Nothing weak or wimpy about that. For the record, I thought I’d share the “True Neutral Adventurer’s Guide”:

The following actions are honorable for this alignment:

Defeating a superior opponent

Dirty Fighting

Fleeing a fight with a superior opponent

Gloating over a victory

Perpetrate humiliating prank on enemy

The following actions are dishonorable for this alignment:

Allowing the enemy to attack first

Being taken prisoner

Convicted of a crime

Defeated by an inferior opponent

Killing a host who has provided you food or shelter



Chaotic Good and Chaotic Neutral...another story for another day

Be sure to “Like” P&Q if you enjoyed this post, and I promise my Facebook page is gonna be done…maybe…one of these days…




~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on January 31, 2011.

5 Responses to “Neither Superhero Nor Supervillain Be: Rules For Neutrals”

  1. I suppose you could view Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog like that as well. She’s not like the superhero Captain Hammer or the supervillain Dr. Horrible, she’s right in the middle somewhere trying to help a little homeless shelter. She’s sorta a mentor-ish person to Dr. Horrible…

  2. Heather,

    You are much more the prolific writer than I hope happen to ever be. Still, you are likely adapted to WordPress’operation better than I am becoming acquainted at the rate of. That rate would be next to nada (meant along a Scarecrow & Mrs. King’s sort of sense humor).

    Anyhow, I’m having something of an in-between a Murdock and Hannible life moment. What better way to use this, than take the time and catch up on P&Q.

    Tortoise and the hare moral: it is not necessarily the fast but steadfast that the race can go to.
    With that said, back to improving from twice monthly to (at least) weekly posting.

    Thank you for providing mentoring and being the nuetral inclined example you are.

    The Blue Spade

    • And thank you for taking the time to read and comment. That always makes my day.

      As for being prolific, I’m trying, even if it’s every 2 or 3 days. I need B.A. Baracus to shout in my ear to “get busy, fool!”

      Lawful Neutral or True Neutral is the way to go. It saves so many kerfuffles in the end.

      All the best,

  3. oops, that spelling thing – I really meant Hannibal.

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abandonen toda esperanza aquellos que entren aqui


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