- 2nd Edition Player's Handbook
Neutral Evil is, I think, the easiest alignment to play and play realistically; we all know people who fit the stereotype of a stop-at-nothing self-aggrandising swine, and if we are honest we would probably admit to containing a healthy dose of such impulses ourselves (at least at a subconscious level). And it's undeniably true that Neutral Evil characters are also among the most fun, because everybody loves an unprincipled rogue, and everybody loves a rotten scoundrel even better.
The DSM describes a mental illness called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, described in the following way:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
And that is, almost to a T, how I think a Neutral Evil character should behave.
An old favourite Neutral Evil character of mine is Alan Rickman's Sherrif of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He epitomises the bad guy who the audience secretly roots for, while never making concessions to compassion, sympathy or scruples. He's the kind of man who'll kill his own family members, burn down villages of innocent forest dwellers while nonchalantly picking his teeth, and give alms to beggars just to ingratiate himself with young ladies - every single action he takes is in the name of self-advancement. If only all Neutral Evil player characters were that fun.