I like to think that think, well probably delude myself, that my real-life alignment is somewhere along the lines of Neutral Good, but considering my military and organizations (Scouts, Toastmasters, etc.) background I'm probably in the Lawful spectrum for sure. Most likely Lawful Neutral.
Like many, I have some slightly convoluted personal code that helps guide my actions. I like to think most of us have them and if you could codify them they'd make for an interesting read. A good "mission statement"-ish phrase or two doesn't hurt and trying to get back to the overall RPG theme here, might be useful in creating NPCs.
I could see how these simple statements could help with NPC development:
- Live and let live
- Make my friends cry and I'll make you cry
- You only live once
- I'll try anything twice!
- Do unto the other fella before he does unto you
- If you're not cheating you aren't trying
- If you get caught you aren't trying hard enough!
- Pain is temporary
- Today is the 1st day of the rest of your life
- What will the neighbors think?
This whole train of thought, specifically regarding alignments, stemmed from a conversation I had earlier today. You see, someone involved in the RPG community (albeit peripherally) wronged me recently in a couple of fashions, and I've taken some potential steps for revenge. Well..."revenge" is probably the wrong term, but sounds so much better than "facilitating potential restitution". There are some things I can do, but the question has become should I do these things? Nothing illegal, and I'd argue unethical, but I think they'd potentially put me square into the Lawful Evil category.
Some of these "wrongs" are little more than public insults and I can just right them off, but some of the others....well it isn't just me that suffered injury, but friends and family. See one of my own personal statements, not very Lawful mind-you, has been #2 from above. I haven't been that worked up by all the fuckery that has taken me to where I'm at now, but it hasn't been pleasant having to work against type.
Trying to get something useful out of this mess for you, one of my 12 regular readers, is that you might want to think about a personal mission-ish statement for your NPCs that (in addition to some character traits) might help define that NPC. They don't have to follow that statement immediately and to the letter, but it can work in the background and peek around the edges of what they do. Your players don't need to know these motivations, just see the outcomes.