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 Roleplaying: Anything "too evil" for evil chars
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mastermustard
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USA
45 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2017 :  13:39:52  Show Profile Send mastermustard a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Wow, I just realized how few characters we're allowed to use in the subject.

Anyways, I wanted your opinions on roleplaying evil characters. In your mind, is there any action that is off-limits, even for the most chaotic evil sunnofagun imaginable? In terms of roleplaying -- like, if you were DMing, is there anything you wouldn't allow?


I get the feeling that shows like Game of Thrones have made a lot of the stuff that we'd consider too heinous to talk about previously, a bit more acceptable.

KanzenAU
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Australia
744 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2017 :  15:35:31  Show Profile Send KanzenAU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think what matters here is who you're playing with. D&D can really test people's friendships when you have people at a table that adamantly want different things. If you want to go all out evil, speak to not only your DM but your fellow players. Most people don't want to play with someone that's always trying to do horrible things, but who knows, maybe your group will be cool with it.

I don't think we can help you with this one - it's a discussion for you and your friends to have.

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Starshade
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Norway
159 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2017 :  16:42:26  Show Profile Send Starshade a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's a bit like the "Farador D&D" video on youtube, what is appropriate fun, depends on what players and the DM think is fun. If the purpose of the game is to have fun, it's limited by that.
Imagine a game like Star Wars. In the old Expanded Universe ("lower" rated canonical content, who were nulled out by the next movie), there was lots of good Sith material. GMing a sith game sounds fun; sacrificing a fellow PC to ascend to Sith-hood against the will of the fellow player is quite appropriate for a Sith, but horrible to the players.
Ingame NPCs are there for fun; I'd be quite willing to have players sacrifice their grandmother to dark powers, if the game is "fun", that would include me, too.
Basically, a RP game would either be a common "good game" or an "evil game", and constructed around that. Going Game of Thrones is ok for me; if the players still work together with the purpose of having fun in real life.

Edited by - Starshade on 04 Jun 2017 16:42:50
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
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USA
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Posted - 04 Jun 2017 :  17:34:59  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The only way I'd play an evil character was if he was NE and was devoted to the group -- or at least a single person in the group -- and thus would not act against them. Against anyone else, though, he's considerably more flexible than the other people in his group.

Kinda like the Knights of Takhisis, in the later Dragonlance stuff, or the Black Paladins of Zhakrin in the Rose of the Prophet books (in both cases, by Weis & Hickman). The Black Paladins, in general, are a great example of this: they will happily murder, torture, or steal from anyone outside their own group -- but they are utterly devoted to each other, to the point of weeping and swearing vengeance when finding out a member of their order had been slain by an outsider.

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Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 04 Jun 2017 17:38:02
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Irennan
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Italy
2737 Posts

Posted - 04 Jun 2017 :  18:52:41  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mastermustard

Wow, I just realized how few characters we're allowed to use in the subject.

Anyways, I wanted your opinions on roleplaying evil characters. In your mind, is there any action that is off-limits, even for the most chaotic evil sunnofagun imaginable? In terms of roleplaying -- like, if you were DMing, is there anything you wouldn't allow?


I get the feeling that shows like Game of Thrones have made a lot of the stuff that we'd consider too heinous to talk about previously, a bit more acceptable.



To me, no actions are offlimits, as long as everyone at the table is ok with them, and as long as the player accepts that:

1)Unlike many stories, those who oppose evil aren't passive. They're going to try to track the PC and hunt them down. If the PC becomes a threat, they are to expect that other factions may very well form alliances to take them and their allies down

2)I want a solid motivation for evil. Going all "muahahaha, I want teh powah" (or "I wanna watch the world burn cause I was hurt in the past so now everyone must pay", or any other cliché like that) is just boring and cheap IMO (and it's also why I avoid villains like that). Make a compelling character, not some walking trope. I just wouldn't have fun DMing such a character (and since, as things stand now, I do most of the work with my game, I'd like to enjoy it too).

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Edited by - Irennan on 04 Jun 2017 18:55:49
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Eltheron
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738 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2017 :  01:30:27  Show Profile Send Eltheron a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mastermustard

Wow, I just realized how few characters we're allowed to use in the subject.

Anyways, I wanted your opinions on roleplaying evil characters. In your mind, is there any action that is off-limits, even for the most chaotic evil sunnofagun imaginable? In terms of roleplaying -- like, if you were DMing, is there anything you wouldn't allow?

I get the feeling that shows like Game of Thrones have made a lot of the stuff that we'd consider too heinous to talk about previously, a bit more acceptable.


Evil campaigns can be super fun, but in my experience it's best to sit and talk with the play group about the limits and boundaries of evil that's "allowed" by players, what different people will accept, and what will spoil the fun for people.

I think it always depends on the specific people in the play group, and their tastes (especially what turns them off or horrifies them in real life). Some would be ok with some slavery, or torturing a demon, but what about child slavery, or murder? You really have to talk about limits and boundaries with your group, IMO.



"The very best possible post-fourteenth-century Realms lets down those who love the specific, detailed social, political and magical situation, with its thousands of characters, developed over forty years, and want to learn more about it; and those who'd be open to a new one with equal depth, which there just isn't time to re-produce; and those repelled, some past the point of no return, by the bad-taste-and-plausibility gap of things done to the world when its guardianship was less careful."
--Faraer
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Ayrik
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Canada
6451 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2017 :  07:27:27  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Evil campaigns filled with villains can be very fun. At least over the short term.

Provided everybody at the table (DM and all players) knows about and agrees with playing evil.
If everyone voluntarily "embraces" playing evil, as any reservations or squeamishness felt by anyone will eventually be expressed in negative ways.
If everyone is treated "fairly", mixed-alignment groups are always problematic but a some-evil-most-good party mix is a sure way to flame hostilities and stress friendships.
If everyone is sufficiently "mature" to understand that it's just a game played to have fun, players will happily backstab each other (over and over again) but sometimes they just don't know when to stop.
If a consensus exists about "where to draw the line", what is acceptable, what is unacceptable, where boundaries need to be defined (and perhaps also be enforced).

I've run short evil campaigns from time to time. A way to break the tedium, try something fresh or unexpected, even "reward" players who feel too heavily the burdens of heroism weighing upon them.
Also a great way to introduce evil bad guys - why just say they've taken over a town or started a war or stolen a holy gizmo or killed a popular NPC when you can let your players (happily and creatively) have fun doing it all for you?

I've sometimes used "competition" to prod slowpoke parties along. Yes, "another" good-aligned adventuring party, along with their own tanks and blasters and healers and magic items, etc, who strive to do all the heroic deeds (and claim all the loot, xp, and glory) before the PC party can do so ... I usually make these guys slightly lower-level and weaker, only pulling them out when the PC party slacks too much ... but it can be fun to have these guys steal the spotlight and receive all the acclaims and basically have a prettier paladin with better hair and a squarer chin. In fact this happened only twice at my table yet it motivated the PCs and kept them focussed countless times. D&D players absolutely hate "losing", lol.

On several occassions, I cast polymorph into player character on some or all of these NPCs when unexpected players wanted to join in. Or spares were needed for whatever other reason.

And this can be oh so much more fun when the "competition" (good or evil, who cares) are inconvenient adversaries to a group of nasty dirty villainous greasy scumbag opportunistic manipulative grasping greedy lustful violent evil PCs. And even more fun when you're running two player groups against each other - and at least one group of players has no real clue, lol.

In the interests of roleplaying, I too require that "evil" doesn't equate to mere mindless violence, savagery, and melodrama. "Mwoohahaha" shouldn't be punished - indeed, it can be quite a rewarding art form - but it's not enough in itself to fully define a character.

I deliberately halt evil campaigns the moment the novelty begins to tarnish. Before too much collateral damage occurs to the land, lol. But also because it's time to get "serious" about playing the game again.

And because evil PCs always eventually kill each other. Sooner or later. Sooner isn't a problem when more evil PCs can instantly replace them. Later is a problem because players are invested into and unavoidably attached to their characters.

When players grow too attached to their characters then you're faced with social awkwardness whenever those characters die.
Ugly and angry social awkwardness if the cause of death is another player's (or PC's) bad luck, ignorance, imprudence, or general clumsy incompetence.
Utterly enraged social awkwardness when the cause of death is deliberate (and dirty) murder at the hands of one or more other PCs. Avoid letting things get this far and enjoy some evil roleplaying.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 05 Jun 2017 08:56:19
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sleyvas
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USA
6216 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2017 :  13:05:02  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is a very good question, and something I didn't think would ever be an issue. However, when it comes to kids (even non-existent one), there's a lot that becomes off limits for me personally. Also, I'm so adamantly against drug use that I don't enjoy whenever I have people in my game want to use the game to relish their use (its ok that they have a character use them, its when they want to go off on a tangent to describe the effects).

Also, I've used various types of racism in my games (elves not liking humans, dwarves not liking elves, Mulans who think they're superior to everyone else, halflings that don't like "biggers", minotaurs that think most of the normal races are dilettantes, etc...), and I've noted that some people who are ok with the above are not ok with this. I find it really weird.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Ayrik
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Canada
6451 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2017 :  13:40:43  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Racism is effectively part of the genre; be it looked at as Realmslore, or D&D, or fantasy, or pseudo-medieval. Even the most tolerant and egalitarian societies will condemn orcs and drow on sight. "Monsters" are literally dehumanized (or demonized), and with good reason. "Evil" humans (like the Red Wizards, Zhentarim, and Cult of the Dragon) openly condone slavery - this is sometimes racist (they hate a particular group) and sometimes not (they just hate everybody).

How "evil" is portrayed at the table - visceral, vicarious, simplified, sophisticated, euphemistic, or abstract - depends on the composition of the play group. Young players shouldn't be exposed to adult evils. Adult players needn't dwell upon excessively descriptive details unless this serves a purpose (entertains the group, demonstrates the PC's nature to others, provides impetus to the plot or story, etc).

My group has traditionally been rather fond of "kobold punting". A competitive sport where they score each other on such factors as distance, damage, and "squeal". This would be utterly racist, sadistic, cruel, and savage in any normal context - regardless whether kobolds are "people" or "animals" or "monsters" or something in between - but it is an amusing pastime based on abstract rules (in a game composed of abstract rules), it does no real harm, and (most importantly) we all know it's "not real" and shouldn't (can't!) be taken seriously. We also wouldn't behave this (bad) way in the presence of young, impressionable, vulnerable minds, lol.

It's a game. Don't take it seriously. Have fun. But know the limits of good taste (not to mention morals, ethics, and civilized behaviour) and respect your fellow players.

[/Ayrik]
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Artemas Entreri
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USA
3076 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2017 :  14:37:43  Show Profile Send Artemas Entreri a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've played tons of evil characters, but like others have said, they were always loyal to the group. This can be RP'd since the evil character is staying "loyal" for the purpose of self-advancement, but it works.

I don't think I'd try to play a psychotic mass-murdering character as that would get old and tiresome quickly.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
6216 Posts

Posted - 05 Jun 2017 :  18:56:27  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Racism is effectively part of the genre; be it looked at as Realmslore, or D&D, or fantasy, or pseudo-medieval. Even the most tolerant and egalitarian societies will condemn orcs and drow on sight. "Monsters" are literally dehumanized (or demonized), and with good reason. "Evil" humans (like the Red Wizards, Zhentarim, and Cult of the Dragon) openly condone slavery - this is sometimes racist (they hate a particular group) and sometimes not (they just hate everybody).

How "evil" is portrayed at the table - visceral, vicarious, simplified, sophisticated, euphemistic, or abstract - depends on the composition of the play group. Young players shouldn't be exposed to adult evils. Adult players needn't dwell upon excessively descriptive details unless this serves a purpose (entertains the group, demonstrates the PC's nature to others, provides impetus to the plot or story, etc).

My group has traditionally been rather fond of "kobold punting". A competitive sport where they score each other on such factors as distance, damage, and "squeal". This would be utterly racist, sadistic, cruel, and savage in any normal context - regardless whether kobolds are "people" or "animals" or "monsters" or something in between - but it is an amusing pastime based on abstract rules (in a game composed of abstract rules), it does no real harm, and (most importantly) we all know it's "not real" and shouldn't (can't!) be taken seriously. We also wouldn't behave this (bad) way in the presence of young, impressionable, vulnerable minds, lol.

It's a game. Don't take it seriously. Have fun. But know the limits of good taste (not to mention morals, ethics, and civilized behaviour) and respect your fellow players.



Its funny that you mention that. My racist elf character did in fact consider creatures like kobolds as little more than animals. In one of the first adventures, he specifically was dragging along a dead kobold and literally hurling him down the hallways to see if any traps got tripped. The younger people in the party did see it as bad form, though it was much fun for me.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Aldrick
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909 Posts

Posted - 08 Jun 2017 :  20:08:53  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Honestly, I believe that whenever you are starting a new game, everyone should sit down and talk about what they want to play--the themes in particular--before character creation. Once everyone has settled on an idea or concept, characters should be created that fits the story situation. You shouldn't start by creating characters and then trying to fit them to the situation, it needs to happen in reverse--situation and then characters.

Ideally, characters should also be built collaboratively with the rest of the group--even if it takes an entire gaming session. This allows everyone to talk about the type of characters they are creating, work out background information and concepts, and generally work to weave everything together with the situation and themes.

During the character creation process, it is important that I get the following information from the players about their characters:

1. How does your character want the situation to resolve? Be specific.

2. What philosophical or religious beliefs drive your character? Be specific.

3. What is the one line your character will never cross? Be specific.

Example:
Step 1: Themes. The players have a number of different discussions, and they decide that they want a military themed type game. They are all part of some type of military group, and the vibe is kinda Game of Thrones meets Band of Brothers. It's dark, really dark, and the characters are morally ambiguous. The various deities the group turns to are Bane, Helm, and Tempus. These are the usual patron deities of the group. Order, discipline, duty, loyalty, and battle-ready are all words that could be used to describe the group.

Step 2: Situation. The characters are part of a mercenary group called Durin's Blades. Durin, the leader and namesake, is dead along with quite a large amount of his fighters. They died in a recent surprise attack on Lord Estamont's Estate, the local ruler who has hired the Blades. Several seasons ago Lord Estamont, with the Blades help, laid siege to Boraskyer Bridge and claimed it. He intends to build a settlement here, using the resources that flow through here to make himself--and subsequently the Blades--very rich. Since staking his claim one bad thing after another has happened, and the death of Durin is the last straw. Before his death there were murmurings of a mutiny among the Blades. Food supplies are running low, winter is coming, and it is going to be particularly hard--eat your shoe leather hard. Durin was holding things together, but with him gone things could quickly escalate and get ugly. There is no clear successor, as the person who would have been chosen--his lieutenant--is also dead. He died on a scouting mission a week before. The attacks are clearly sponsored by other regional power groups who want to dislodge Estamont and the Blades from the Bridge. The whispers among the Blades is that someone on the inside helped the surprise attack happen. Morale is low and paranoia is high.

Step 3: Characters. So, now we know the situations their characters are stepping into and the characters being created need to be characters who would logically find themselves in the situation. Players should already be thinking about what they want their characters to do--how the situation will be resolved, and begin building their characters toward that end. Someone might say that they want their character to try and become the leader of the Blades, someone else might say that they want to hunt down the traitors, and someone else might want to overthrow Lord Estamont. There could be lots of ideas and thoughts being tossed around. None of them are bad or good, the goal is to get everyone excited about a particular direction, and to have characters built that mutually re-enforce the overall direction that people want to head in--if there are strong disagreements about something this opens up the opportunity to work it out.

This process is really going to flesh out the characters. We are going to learn a bit about their backgrounds, how they are connected to the other player characters (excluding the obvious), important characters in their lives, and most importantly the three things:

1. How they want the situation to resolve.
2. What drives them.
3. What lines they will not cross.

With this information, I know exactly what to do, because my job is to try and force them across that line, to put what drives them to the test, and put obstacles in the way of how they want the situation to resolve itself. If a PC wants to become the leader of the Blades, there is NPC competition. If one of the lines that they will not cross is that they will not kill innocent people, then how do they react when the local peasant farmers refuse to give up any food to support the Blades during the winter? If a sense of duty and loyalty drives them--they want the Blades to become known as a mercenary group that keeps its word, no matter how bad things get--how will they react when Lord Estamont starts to get desperate and asks them to do some awful things, like execute an aforementioned peasant farmer to send a message to the others?

My goal is to test them--to force them to make hard and difficult decisions. The choices that their characters make move the story forward, and also reveals who their characters really are... what they truly care about. What happens if they cross that line that they said they would never cross? What happens if in order to avoid bloodshed, someone else becomes the leader of the Blades instead? What happens if Lord Estamont is not a worthy man to serve? I want to poke their characters, prod them, and find ways to break them. This is how the characters change and evolve during play. This is what makes the story interesting because no one really knows what the characters will choose until the moment of choosing is upon them. It's fun to watch a player become shocked by their own character's actions.

By building characters and situations like this you create buy-in from everyone around the table. You avoid a lot of problems that "evil" or morally ambiguous games run into. The first common problem is that not everyone wants to play the same type me of game. It is not going to work if everyone wants to be goodie--goodie heroes, but you have one or two people who want something more morally ambiguous. The second common problem is flat one dimensional characters who end up as cartoonish villain trope puppy kickers or murder hobo rapists.

By having a clear situation, building characters together, and being clear about who their characters are and what they want everything is laid out on the table. One dimensional characters get eliminated because they are now characters with drives and goals. If they are doing horrible things, they are doing it for a reason--not just so they can go, "muhahaha. Look at how evil I am!" It makes sense in the context of the story and the character.

The third and final issue is the graphic nature of some things. It does not have to be even necessarily evil. It could just be sexually explicit or something similar. This is easy to handle by stepping back, fading to black, and going into the narrative mode. You do not need to describe blow-by-blow how someone is tortured, mutilated, raped, and then further brutalized. You fade to black, you narratively describe what happened, and then you describe the after effects. If you are engaging in some heavy torture detail, it should be for a specific story purpose. If someone is playing a character who tortures people, you do not need to describe in gory detail each and every time the character does it. However, if the Priest of Tyr decides to take matters into his own hands, and get them really dirty--well... how dirty, exactly? How far is he willing to go? That might be worth playing out in some detail, because it gives the Priest an opportunity to lose his resolve, to feel regret, or alternatively, to show us just how far he has fallen.

Operating like this will solve most problems when it comes to trying to make a group work together properly--evil or not. The one downside and this is a player flaw, is that there are some people who may not be as honest as they should be. This is usually people who have certain hard player limits, that seeing these things happen in the game (i.e. rape or torture) diminishes or ruins their enjoyment or fun. It is important the people draw a distinction between the lines that their characters will never cross and the lines they do not want to cross as players, and if they are not willing to be honest and open about their limitations, they should not expect other people to become mind readers. Ideally, you are playing with a group of friends, and that means that everyone can act like adults and be respectful toward one another as players. As a DM it is important to try and identify issues that someone might be having and bring it up privately, but also be willing to lay down some hard ground rules for the group as a whole. It is important that if you know you want to or are going to play a game where horrible things are going to happen, that you are explicit and upfront with everyone, and demand that everyone give their explicit consent and understanding as well. Being silent is not consent--not saying no is not consent. Everyone has to verbally agree (in front of everyone else) after you have made things absolutely clear. If someone has issues or limits, then the group should respect their issues or limits, dial things back, or play a different game/situation without them. For a game to be fun for everyone it requires unanimous consent, and everyone should be excited.

All of this holds true no matter the type of game you want to play.
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sleyvas
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USA
6216 Posts

Posted - 09 Jun 2017 :  01:34:52  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

It is important the people draw a distinction between the lines that their characters will never cross and the lines they do not want to cross as players, and if they are not willing to be honest and open about their limitations, they should not expect other people to become mind readers.


I cannot stress enough how much this one sentence is true. One of my last characters, I made it known that one of the other players was my "brother" (in-game only... he's a coworker in real life). My "brother" was playing a warlock being seduced by demons. However, I just knew him as "my brother who some stupid human barbarian had killed his girlfriend". I made it openly known that I would do anything I could as a player to come up with an excuse for my brother's actions. The younger players just couldn't get past the idea that I as a person had knowledge that I as a character could not accept. Even with cold facts staring me in the face, I'd come up with some excuse for how it wasn't my brother's fault (and my "brother" was playing up the sneakiness, so it made it easier to come up with excuses). They just expected me to turn on him, even to the point that I kept my character in blatantly dangerous situations that I was sure I'd die in (that they were willing to let him die in). I could tell the DM as well expected me to leave him behind, and I refused and said if it led to my character's death at least he had stayed true to himself.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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