I’m new to dnd and I’m having a hard time getting what all the stats mean, one of the things I’m having the most trouble with is things like, for example, 1d20. What does this mean and how does it apply to my stats?
The term 'chaotic' is part of the alignment system in D&D. Within the alignment system, your personality and decision making is rated on two scales. One from good to evil, and the other from lawful to chaotic.From the D&D Player's Handbook (5e):
Lawful good (LG) creatures can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society. Gold dragons, paladins, and most dwarves are lawful good.
Neutral good (NG) folk do the best they can to help others according to their needs. Many celestials, some cloud giants, and most gnomes are neutral good.
Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect. Copper dragons, many elves, and unicorns are chaotic good.
Lawful neutral (LN) individuals act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes. Many monks and some wizards are lawful neutral.
Neutral (N) is the alignment of those who prefer to steer clear of moral questions and don’t take sides, doing what seems best at the time. Lizardfolk, most druids, and many humans are neutral.
Chaotic neutral (CN) creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else. Many barbarians and rogues, and some bards, are chaotic neutral.
Lawful evil (LE) creatures methodically take what they want, within the limits of a code of tradition, loyalty, or order. Devils, blue dragons, and hobgoblins are lawful evil.
Neutral evil (NE) is the alignment of those who do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms. Many drow, some cloud giants, and yugoloths are neutral evil.
Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust. Demons, red dragons, and orcs are chaotic evil.
Good and evil are fairly self-explanatory. Good characters are generally willing to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others. Evil characters are usually willing to harm others for personal benefit. That is of course a simplification, but it gets across the main ideas.
Lawful means that the person is willing to follow laws and give up personal freedoms for the good of their society. Lawful characters tend to follow strict moral codes. Chaotic means that the person is unwilling to give up personal freedoms for the good of society. They do not want to follow laws or be restricted by social codes. Chaotic characters tend to act on a whim, with little regard for laws or codes of practice.
In reality, the system is seldom used by most DMs. Previous editions used it much more, for example in AD&D, there was a strict LG alignment restriction for paladins (which caused annoyed parties to call some characters 'lawful stupid'). In 5e, traps and the like can theoretically be triggered by certain alignments. I have used this, but I think I am in the minority here. For most people alignment is just used as a role-playing tool, and a way to gain inspiration.
In older editions, there used to be spells and other ways to identify alignment (such as detect alignment), but these no longer exist in 5th edition (the most recent version of the game). Alignment is still theoretically an objective quality, and something intrinsic in the universe. Most players, in my experience, tend to ignore it once they have chosen it.
A full history of the alignment system would be far beyond the scope of this format, but I shall try to provide a brief history of the term 'chaotic', by writing a summary of each edition's definition.
OD&D Basic Rules Book (red book) Chaos is the opposite of law. It is the belief that life is random, and that chance and luck rule the world. Laws are made to be broken, as long as the person can get away with it. The individual is more important than the group. Chaotic creatures often act on whims, and cannot be trusted. Chaotic behaviour is usually the same behaviour that can be called "evil" (!).
AD&D Player's Handbook No specific definition for 'chaos', but we can gleam the following from the list of alignments: Chaotic creatures view randomness and disorder as the way of the universe, and believe in personal freedom above law and order.
2e AD&D Player's Handbook The believers in chaos hold that there is no preordained order or careful balance of forces in the universe. Chaotics can be hard to govern as a group, since they place their own needs and desires above those of society.
3.5e Player's Handbook “Chaos” implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
4e Player's Handbook In 4e, the alignment system was drastically simplified to only include Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil. Chaotic essentially became a more random evil alignment, described as 'Entropy and destruction' rather than 'Tyranny and hatred' (for evil).
4e Essentials Retained the simplified alignment system. Chaotic evil is summarised as: "I don't care what I have to do to get what I want.' This was opposed to: 'It is my right to claim what other's possess.' (for evil).
5e Player's Handbook See descriptions above.
It is clear from this that, with the exception of 4e, the editions have pretty much agreed that chaos is the belief that life is governed by chance, and that we should disregard laws. In this sense, the meaning of this alignment has not changed much, but its usage has changed significantly.
As an addendum, I recommend these two articles by the Angry GM on alignment and its usage:
You might also want to read about the history of the alignment system.
"Forgeite" refers to users and game designers who frequented and followed design theories of a site known as "The Forge," found at http://www.indie-rpgs.com [Internet Archive link]. While the site is now defunct, it had a profound effect on game design and theory among independent game designers, with two of the the most notable being D. Vincent Baker (Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World) and Ron Edwards (Sorcerer).
Ron Edwards is also known for the GNS model of role-playing games, which suggests players fit into one of three categories based on which approach to role-playing they take: Gamist, Narrativist, and Simulationist. The theory discusses game design with these approaches in mind. I am not really qualified to go into detail on this model, but it spawned a lot of debate and heavily influenced many games which came out of the Forge and many Forgeite designers.
The most profound effect was on game design itself. One of the hallmarks of games from the Forge and its designers is the highly focused mechanics designed to promote and to fit within the premise of the game. This isn't true of all indie or Forge-inspired games, but this design theory found its way into many games of the time and current games.
The OP mentions Dogs in the Vineyard, a game about wielding authority to serve the greater good. The mechanics of this game are designed with the goal of pushing conflict into ever more risky levels, encouraging players to consider the increased risk at every turn. You start in discussion, and can escalate through several levels, until you have to decide if a matter is serious enough to warrant use of deadly force, with all its attendants risks. The game is all about "how far will you go?" and the rules are designed to force that question as often as possible.
Another effect, which is only my opinion based on observing the market, is that The Forge helped create the wide open RPG market we have today by fostering and encouraging many designers to put their works out into the world. The advent of electronic publishing helped here too, but it takes more than just an easy avenue of distribution. It takes a lot of encouragement to get many to take that first step, and the Forge had a hand in that.
Regarding the emotional component, I don't really see that as a common primary goal among Forge and Forge-inspired games. Some games seem designed to explore certain emotions, but I see such as typical of the specific focus; in these games the narrow focus, supported by specific rules, is the exploration of emotion.
For example, Emily Care Boss wrote games which explored various aspects of romance. The rules (and fair warning, I've read two but never played any of these), appear designed to explore those emotions associated with romance on various levels: "Breaking the Ice" looks at new romance; "Under My Skin" explores secret feelings, hidden passion, etc. The emotion is the focus in these cases, but the narrow focus is what marks it as a Forge-inspired game.