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Fzoul Chembryl, a lawful evil exarch.

The lawful evil alignment was the methodical, intentional, and frequently successful devotion to a cruel organized system.[1] [note 1]

Lawful evil characters methodically took what they want in life within the limits of their personally held beliefs. While they cared about tradition, loyalty, and order they had little to no regard for the freedom, dignity or overall lives of others. They were comfortable within a hierarchy, willing to serve in an attempt to gain more power; they saw the laws and power dynamics of Toril as a means of elevating those who deserve to be masterful of others who are meant to be subservient.[2]

These people played by the rules, albeit without mercy or compassion, and only obeyed laws out of fear of punishment. While they wouldn't break a promise, they seldom "gave their word" or put themselves on the line, unless it would clearly help them come out ahead. Many lawful evil characters had personal codes of conduct that they self-justifiably circumvented, such as not personally taking a life in cold blood, but had underlings that kill without discretion. These "rules" served their selfish, twisted view on morality.[1][2]

Many lawful evil characters used society and its laws for selfish advantages, exploiting the letter of the law over its spirit whenever it best suited their interests. Yet some others committed themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a paladin dedicated to a life of good deeds. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they took pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself and saw committing evil deeds as part of a duty to a higher, or perhaps more correctly, lower power.[2]

A tyrannical ruler who drafted the rules to suit themselves,[1] a corrupt lawyer or judge who used the law to mask their own misdeeds, and the ruthless bosses and minions of organized crime were all examples of lawful evil characters.

Opposing alignment

Lawful evil characters exploited rules and power structures for their own personal gain. Chaotic good characters eschewed laws and their rigidity to commit acts of benevolence. These two alignments opposed one another.[2]


See also[]


  1. In 4th edition mechanics for Dungeons & Dragons lawful evil is found under the umbrella of the evil alignment.


1st, 2nd, 3.x, and 5th editions

Lawful goodNeutral goodChaotic good
Lawful neutral(True) neutralChaotic neutral
Lawful evilNeutral evilChaotic evil

4th edition
Lawful goodGoodUnalignedEvilChaotic evil