Most adventurers are stalwart defenders of justice and the common folk. A few, though, have darker hearts and motivations. Luckily, done right, there is room for both types in the typical adventuring party.
Almost every gamer I’ve met over the last 30 years has played an evil character at some point. Sometimes whole campaigns are based around the concept of an evil party. Normally, however, the party is predominantly good and only one or two of its members are evil. This can create challenging, but immensely rewarding roleplaying experience for all involved. (In my own Borderland of Adventure campaign, for example, one of the most enduring characters has “questionable morals”).
For my money, the best example of an evil character in a good group comes from Dragonlance. While Raistlin didn’t start off as evil, as the campaign developed his dark nature slowly asserted itself until he finally fell into darkness. Even then, though, his companions didn’t turn on, and kill, him.
If you want to play an evil character in a predominantly good-aligned group, remember the following:
- You Still Need Friends: Just because you are evil doesn’t mean you don’t care about the people around you. If you are adventuring with friends (or even relatives) you’ll make as much effort to keep them safe as any good character. You might even make a greater effort than your fellows as finding understanding friends to adventure with when you are evil can be difficult.
- You Can Share Your Friends’ Goals: Just because you are evil doesn’t mean you don’t want to defeat the rising ancient evil, kill the marauding dragon or sack the temple of an evil god. You can have the same goals as your friends, but crucially while you might share the goal but have different reasons for doing so. Perhaps the temple your friends want to sack is dedicated to a rival god of your own patron or the rampaging dragon threatens your home or loved ones.
- You Need to Work Harder with Plot Hooks: Most adventures are written to work with good-aligned PCs. Most plot hook expect the PCs to want to help save the village, slay the dragon or whatever. As an evil character, you’ll need to work harder to justify your character’s involvement in the adventure. Sometimes this can be as simple as accepting payment for your services while other times you’ll need dig deeper into your character’s motivations and personality.
- You Have to Modify Your Behaviour: You might be evil, and your friends might accept that. However, they are unlikely to accept your constantly torturing prisoners, murdering innocents, breaking the law or openly worshipping fell powers. If you must do these things, it’s best to do these off-screen or away from the party.
Help Fellow Gamers
Have you played an evil character in a predominantly good adventuring party? Got any tips? If you do, leave them in the comments below and help your fellow players play their evil characters better!