For our second installment describing Mr. Malahide’s characters in terms of D&D alignments (the first one is here), Fearless Admin and I will be discussing the Neutrals. These are characters who tend to skirt the middle ground while pursuing their own interests, although they can be law-abiding when it suits them. They’re a little trickier to define, but despite their name, they aren’t fence-sitters – and they’re just as much fun to watch. And now, the Neutrals!
A lawful neutral character typically believes strongly in lawful concepts such as honor, order, rules, and tradition, and often follows a personal code. Examples of lawful neutral characters include a soldier who always follows orders, a judge or enforcer that adheres mercilessly to the word of the law, and a disciplined monk. [Source: Wikipedia]
RF: When it comes to a character who adheres to the rules, sometimes mercilessly, the first one to spring to my mind is… the Reverend J.G. Keach from “A Month in the Country“. From his seeming obsession with his fabric fund to his relentlessly picky calculation of Birkin’s (Colin Firth) salary for restoring the medieval mural in his church, everything about him suggests he’s a stickler for rules and proprieties. He’s so inflexible that he insists Birkin stay in the church’s unheated belfry while carrying out the work, despite having a large (and extremely empty) house at his disposal. Yet despite all of that, Keach is not entirely without feelings; he knows he’s a fish out of water in Oxgodby but doesn’t know quite what to do about it, and he seems to sense that there’s a bit of an emotional divide between himself and his much younger wife, Alice (Natasha Richardson).
Admin: Poor Keach. I felt quite sorry for him, but most of his problems were of his own doing. He really needs to lighten up and reach out to others, but Lawful Neutrals have a hard time doing that. I’ll choose a much lighter, funnier Lawful Neutral: The Marine Safety agent, Mr. Lancing from “Captain Jack“. He almost comes close to being evil since he seems to take a fiendish delight in waving his clipboard around, but he shows just enough good humor at the end to save him from that category. Mr. Lancing’s dedication to enforcing the rules is truly remarkable, and he gets some very funny lines. I especially love his insistence that Captain Jack (Bob Hoskins) use a “proper British whistle” rather than one those unreliable Danish models. He’s a stickler through and through.
RF: Yeah, Mr. Lancing certainly enjoyed being as officious as humanly possible, but I got the impression he rather liked his run-ins with Jack. I think they made his life just that little bit more exciting. 😉 You’re right, he did seem to have a sense of humour, which is one quality that poor Rev. Keach appeared to lack.
Admin: I agree he liked his run-ins. Mr. Lancing seemed to enjoy having an adversary which made it all oddly rather friendly.