When Evil Comes Calling

So I was having a brief conversation with my old mate Danurai today. He’s been working up a potential new character for our weekly D&D game, a Drow Avenger. Fair enough. Then he wanted to know if it was ok to be evil. He’d been reading an article about just such a thing, so before I started replying to him in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS saying NO, I thought I owed it to him to give it a read. As I did I realised that there are all sorts of ways to play a game, but there are some that simply don’t sit well with your regular home game.

“Whether or not you agree to let one person in the game play an evil character, or let everyone in the game play evil characters, you should absolutely have the talk. What’s that? I like to call it the “don’t be a jerk and don’t be a baby” talk. It’s a real, honest discussion about the tone of the game you are about to play. It’s a verbal agreement to not let the nefarious actions of characters spill over into real-life arguments. It is the group realization that you are about to play something that will be challenging. It’s going to be more work than a normal campaign.”

Stephen Radney-MacFarland

A one shot is another kettle of fish though. Could an all evil game be just right if you had 4 or 5 hours to let rip with all your dark desires?

Of course, some RPGs make playing the bad guys all part of the fun, World of Darkness immediately springs to mind. But that’s the default way of playing in that world. What would be fun to turn on it’s head?

There’s been some cracking zombie games of late, All Flesh… being perhaps the best known. Maybe it would be interesting to turn the tables and actually play the roles of the brains-seeking ravenous hordes? On a related note, did you ever catch the Marvel Zombies series where the traditional superheroes all caught the flesh eating bug. There’s got to be mileage in running a supers one shot where you all play the villains, undead villains at that.

Of course, the traditional games could get a makeover too. D&D has always had Drow, Tieflings and other ‘bad boys’. I’m not convinced there’s a viable campaign in it, but for a one shot, I’d like to see the results. Or perhaps just flip the presumed game on it’s head and play the monsters defending their dungeon against the predations of a band ofshiny armoured adventurers. I’ve got an Ogre based scenario that does just that, I’ll do a review of it if I remember.

Your thoughts, comments and opinions, always welcome!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “When Evil Comes Calling

  1. From my [little] experience I think that many players are more likely to play ‘naughty’ characters rather than evil characters.
    More like pirates, they can fit into any setting or age really, than emo vampires.

    Characters like Johner from my Firefly game are great to play as they bend the rules and get away with it rather than be total evil.

  2. Mmmmn evil….

    Our group is named after our 14 session campaign of HeroQuest where every body played one of the bad guys of Glorantha, the Black Horse County troupe. Part of the rationale behind it was that it would be cool to play demon riding Knights, but also that it would be interesting to play characters where there are strong cultural reasons for them to behaving ‘evil’. It worked because there was a good deal of black humour in the game, I was always sensitive to the players boundaries , and we had a frame work to play within story wise which meant it wasn’t going to drag on forever. After a climatic final battle in session 14 we done, and moved onto much happier gaming.

    Our group is quite mature, and I run a very player focused game where they can create any type of character they want. Most of the characters that they have run are best described asa morally ambiguous. I think its the mutual respect for each other’s boundaries that have let it work. Were boundaries have been crossed they have been quick to sort it out as a peer group.

    It can go wrong. In our current Battlestar Galactica campaign there was a move over a couple of seasons from flawed heroes to deliberately dark and nasty, think characters from the Pegasus type nasty, which I called them on this before we started play last session. We had a frank discussion about it and agreed that because of the way the characters had developed the game wasn’t working for anyone any more. We felt that a couple of the characters had reached the end of the lifespan as far as positive things they could do. We all agreed that having likeable or sympathetic characters was key to keeping the game going. As a result the old characters of the first five games (our version of the mini-series) where retired and a new lighter bunch of player characters was created.

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