Friday, July 17, 2015

Rule of Three: Playing Evil Characters

Evil is sexy. It's proven science...
Don't you judge me...
Sometimes, you just want to play a villain. You've been playing the noble hero for the longest time, now you want to just watch the world burn and take what's left within its ashes for yourself.

However, a stigma exists for those wishing to play an evil character in a group of good and neutral fellows. Due to the antics of certain players (a.k.a., "dicks"), numerous Game Masters outright ban evil characters or heavily monitor their behavior at the table. I know this because I'm that Game Master. I very rarely allow evil characters at my table, and I outright ban Chaotic Evil characters.

With that being said, I will allow certain people to take on the challenge, those players who happen to be good roleplayers who know how to run a somewhat villainous adventurer without it being too disruptive to the campaign. They know the tricks to make the character work within the game, which I'll be sharing with you today.

Like every other Rule of Three article, these tips are merely guidelines to help you, not absolutes you must follow no matter what. Use what works best for you and your group. Feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comments below.

Rule #1: Aim for Complexity & Sympathy
While you can play the maniacal villain who's evil for evil's sake, you probably shouldn't do it. Instead, you should probably aim for a more sympathetic path. Your character might due something immoral or downright evil, but you have some motivation that causes others to feel sympathy towards you (even if they don't agree with your methods). Have positive aspects to your character, because nobody is 100% evil. You might be a cold-blooded killer who wouldn't bat an eye at slaying an enemy, but you refuse to harm a child or a domesticated animal. Maybe you're a power-hungry warrior who will do whatever you can to achieve glory, but you're also honorable and will keep your word (even though you will most likely find loopholes within that code to exploit). Having this complexity and sympathy allows the other PCs justify keeping your character around, even if they aren't evil themselves. 

Rule #2: Explain Your Origin Within the Party
One of the biggest fears that people have about including an evil character in a non-evil party is that at some point in the future, the evil character will end up betraying them in one way or another. That's why you should probably create a reason for the character to not do that, giving them some kind of link to the party that explains it. Maybe the evil character is a childhood friend of another member in the party, or maybe a family member. They could possibly be paying off a debt to another PC who saved them. Whatever the reason, you should figure it out and make sure it makes sense. This doesn't mean this bond might not be tested at the table, but it will calm the betrayal fires down. 

Rule #3: Don't Be A Dick
This is the most important rule to remember: Don't use your evil character as an excuse to be a total dick. Your character might have some dickish tendencies, but you shouldn't use that to justify being a complete asshole. This is the biggest reason why Game Masters like to ban evil characters. At some point in their careers as Game Masters, they probably had some douchebag play a CE sorcerer or something at their table, using it as the reason why they are being horrible to other players and disrupting the game. You can have your character do the occasional dickish action, but make sure that its clear this is just a minor thing and you can tone it down if it becomes problematic.