The standard fantasy game is heroic, but playing an evil character can be interesting and entertaining. Still, you should consider a few things when introducing an evil character to a campaign.
- What is Evil?
Is theft, murder, defiling and robbing tombs, and killing innocents evil? Most people would say so, but good-aligned characters do this all the time in typical games. The actions of a player character exist in the morally gray area of vigilante justice--rarely do PCs take the evil lich or ogre bandit into town for trial. In addition, many creatures are inherently evil: even if a demon has never harmed anyone, players can rest assured that it will do terribly evil things when it has the opportunity. Disturbing these conventions can create interesting roleplaying opportunities, but it's most often best to leave the artificial morality of the game alone. People play to have fun, engage their minds, and socialize; moral arguments can ruin this and destroy the suspension of disbelief necessary for a good game.
- How evil should PCs be?
If your evil PCs are robbing and killing other evil creatures, your game won't look that much different from anyone else's. It will be just as filled with epic adventure and tragedy as any good game. Things become less fun and more troubling when players have their characters attack good-aligned creatures or engage in more disturbing activities like slavery, torture, and rape. Although such elements are covered in various sources to offer scene-setting and scenario possibilities, they usually make for a bad game in the hands of PCs. Almost everyone (but unfortunately not everyone) finds these subjects uncomfortable, and roleplaying such activity will likely lead to some players leaving the game dissatisfied and upset. If you plan to allow evil PCs into your game as a DM, make it clear from the beginning just how far you will allow them to go during play, and let your players know that the session will stop if things get out of hand. There's evil aplenty in lies, murder, betrayal, robbery, assassination, treachery, poison, and plotting.
- PC against PC
One of the most troubling issues when dealing with evil PCs is the tendency for them to turn against one another. Many players figure that since their characters are evil, there's nothing wrong with robbing and murdering other PCs. But not every evil creature is psychotic and bloodthirsty, or so greed-filled that it puts itself above all others. Were that true, evil races would not exist in the game world, and evil individuals would attract so much attention that tohers would bring them down as soon as they cropped up. Evil societies and groups exist for the same reason good people come together: mutual protection, division of duties, companionship, and so on. These are concepts that hold sway over thieves' guilds, pirate crews, and orc tribes, so there's no reason why your player's characters shouldn't abide by them, just as a DM should limit the evil activities of the PCs, set rules and guidelines for interaction.
Make certain that the players understand and agree on how evil PCs will interact with one another or a party of non-evil PCs. Betraying the group might seem like a great roleplaying opportunity, but if often leads to bad feeling all around, and one or more players quitting the group.
- The Means Justify the Ends
If players want to play evil PCs, but the above suggestions aren't working in a particular campaign, propose this philosophy: The means justify the ends. The PCs, evil though they are, still want to be seen as heroes. They take every opportunity to do good deeds and help others, but their eventual goals are wicked. Perhaps they want to enslave a whole kingdom or lead one nation in and effort to exterminate another. To do this, they must first gain the trust and admiration of many people--hence their desire to play the "hero".
- Neutral in lieu of evil
An interesting option for Drow and Underdark campaigns is for players to use neutral-aligned characters in those dangerous realms. In this case the PCs must constantly be on their guard so that the surrounding evil society doesn't discover their "moral weakness". This can make for a tense and fun game, but make certain that the PCs don't stray too far down the path of evil. Set all the limits you would for evil PCs and make them known to the players if you are a DM.
Page Last Updated Feburary 8th, 2005
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