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Voquent

Character Alignment and Voice Acting


By Al Black | 30th August 2019

Alignment is a categorisation used in Dungeons & Dragons to describe characters' ethical nature and moral code. 

At Voquent, we use character alignment as a helpful pointer to a character's nature and motivations, which helps refine voice actor casting selections for video games, animations, audio dramas, and more. 

It's beneficial to shortlist voice actors based on the motivation/perception of a character and gender, age, pitch and tone. 

Nine alignments combine a character's views on abiding by a prescribed code of conduct, e.g. the laws of the land, with their inherent nature to act either in the interests of others, selfishly or against others (Good vs Evil). 

Their nature can be GoodNeutral, or Evil on the moral scale and LawfulNeutral, or Chaotic on the rule-following spectrum. 

 

Lawful Good Neutral Good Chaotic Good
Lawful Neutral True Neutral Chaotic Neutral
Lawful Evil Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil

 

It's not a perfect system, and of course, many characters will not fit neatly into one alignment. For example, the alignment of Chaotic Evil doesn't work well with a self-serving adrenaline junkie. And alignment doesn't tell you how a character will speak exactly

Still, because morals and ethics (alignment) strongly influence a character's actions, it has a knock-on effect on how other characters perceive them. 

Knowing how you want a character to be perceived is extremely important when deciding on their speech's age, pitch, and tone. After all, how we speak is a critical component of our behaviour, our vibe.

A single spoken word can convey a lot of information about a character's health, emotional state, motivations and ethics. We've provided examples of each alignment below, referencing characters from The Dark Knight Trilogy of movies. 

 

Alignments for The Dark Knight trilogy characters

  

Lawful Good (Righteous / Protective / Compassionate)

Conformity and ethics

James Gordon Lawful Good alignment

"I don't get political points for being an idealist, I have to do the best I can with what I have."

A Lawful Good character has a solid moral code of conduct and shows compassion for others. Truth and justice are of the utmost importance, often at the cost of their interests or unaccepting ideas that don't fit within their moral remit.

Commissioner Gordon is an excellent example of this. His prime motivation is to rid Gotham of crime. While he joins Batman to apprehend criminals, he's often conflicted about Batman's methods because Batman doesn't follow the law.

Listen to Good voices >

 

Neutral Good (Humane / Benevolent / Universalist)

Universalism, tolerance and magnanimity 

Alfred Neutral Good alignment

"You are as precious to me as you were to your own mother and father. I swore to them that I would protect you, and I haven't"

A Neutral Good character is devoted to helping and supporting others to achieve their aims. Doing good is of higher importance than following laws or doctrine. 

Alfred represents this perfectly. He's Bruce Wayne's (Batman's) benefactor and does everything he can to further his aims unless he feels those aims are detrimental to Bruce himself or other good people.

Listen to Calm voices >

 

Chaotic Good (Rebellious / Transcendent / Self-Directed)

Revolution and vigilantism 

Batman is a chaotic good alignment

"I won't kill you. But I don't have to save you."

A Chaotic Good character doesn't allow law or obligation to hold them back. When they see a wrong, they seek to correct it, sometimes at a massive cost to themselves or others close to them. 

Batman opitimizes this alignment. In the eyes of the law, he's a vigilante to be brought to justice and regularly flees the police.

Listen to Heroic voices >

 

Lawful Neutral (Conservative / Orthodox /Traditionalist)

Security, consistency and arbitration

Rachel Dawes Lawful Neutral alignment

"Now I'm sure the day won't come when 'you' no longer need Batman."

A Lawful Neutral character is pragmatic, sensible and above all, keeps things orderly. 

Rachel Dawes's character is a district attorney and follows the law without question, frequently putting her into conflict with the evil characters of Gotham. 

It also makes it difficult for Bruce Wayne (Batman) to open up to her about who he is. She would never agree with his methods.

Listen to Professional voices >

 

True Neutral (Rational / Pragmatic / Indifferent)

Realism and multi-dimension

Catwoman Neutral alignment (eg. Unaligned)

"I'm adaptable..."

A True Neutral character doesn't always have a notion of what good or evil is. Animals are an excellent example of this alignment. They act on instinct and don't have morals. 

Catwoman is a True Neutral character. Her attitude often comes across as uncaring, but it's because her feline instinct for self-preservation strongly influences her motivations.

Listen to Sultry voices >

 

Chaotic Neutral (Unconventional / Autonomous / Eccentric)

Inconsistency and digression

Two-Face Chaotic Neutral alignment

"The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance."

Chaotic Neutral characters can come across as utterly crazy to others because their actions often don't make logical sense. They care about their freedom of choice and act to further their changeable aims, frequently at the expense of others. 

The Two-Face character illustrates the chaotic neutral alignment perfectly because he's insane, obsessed with duality and decides the fate of others on the flip of a coin.

Listen to Crazy voices >

 

Lawful Evil (Powerful / Ascending / Dominating)

Tyranny and control

Bane Lawful Evil alignment

"Speak of the devil and he shall appear."

A Lawful Evil character seeks to conquer and control. They are disciplined and may exploit the law for their ends or may follow a strict personal doctrine. 

The character Bane rules Gotham's criminal underworld with an iron fist and becomes one of Batman's greatest adversaries.

Listen to Evil voices >

 

Neutral Evil (Ambitious / Self-serving / Divisive)

Manipulation and exploitation

Scarecrow Neutral Evil alignment

"I told you my compound would take you to places. I never said they'd be places you wanted to go."

Neutral Evil characters are interested in their own needs and satisfy those needs at the expense of others. A neutral evil personality may be psychopathic, addicted to murder or a thief with no compunction to killing those who stand in their way. 

The Scarecrow is driven by a compulsion to cause fear in others by using toxic gas, making the 'Master of Fear' neutral evil alignment.

Listen to Sinister voices >

 

Chaotic Evil (Sybaritic / Destructive / Hedonistic)

Anarchy and instability

The Joker Chaotic Evil alignment

"Introduce a little anarchy and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos."

A Chaotic Evil character seeks destruction and enjoys inflicting pain. They relish mayhem and disdain order, taking great pleasure in the fear and suffering of others. 

The Joker character is a prime example. An unpredictable murderer, he's obsessed with destroying the establishment and has a sadistic sense of humour.

Listen to Malevolent voices >

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Easydamus.com website for inspiration and some of the descriptions used here.

All images are copyright of Warner Bros Inc.

 

 

Learn more about casting voice actors

 

 


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Al Black

Al Black

Al has over twenty years of experience in audiovisual translations. A Voquent co-founder, he has produced tens of thousands of voice-overs and translations for education, advertising and entertainment projects.

About Author

Al Black

Al Black

Al has over twenty years of experience in audiovisual translations. A Voquent co-founder, he has produced tens of thousands of voice-overs and translations for education, advertising and entertainment projects.






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