@Mentalburnout on twitter today proposed the question to players and DM’s about how they feel about evil parties, campaigns or characters in your games. I thought about this question having run a few games with the odd evil sort in the party and the one successful campaign I ran with the nefarious players of ill heart.
I want to discuss the lone player who has decided that his character is in fact evil and how it can impact the game. These types are not always your stereotyped character who just want to steal and kill everything in sight but a well thought out character who’s goals may well fall in line with the other characters.
As a player running an evil character you will face a number of challenges. Your first challenge will be to hide your darkened heart from the party and hope there is no paladin in the group. You will need to explain your personal goals to the DM. Perhaps you are trying to achieve something as easy as an elevated rank in the city or town. Power is everything to you. Try to make it believable and not just that one character who only wants to steal and causes other players to eventually turn on you and either kill you or force you to flee. This defeats the purpose of building a character if your only goal is disrupt the other players and game play.
I’ve had these disrupting types in groups and they don’t last long. I’m reminded of their lonely existence every time I see a posting of a “Looking for Group” by the same person over and over again.
Background is everything and the more time you spend on developing this the better off you will be. You could work for a local trading company that is trying to get the upper hand on trade and enslave the region. You could be a crazed wizard whose only love in life is the devotion to becoming more powerful and defeating others who might want to stop you. These are just a few ideas and you are encouraged to create that one character who can easily adventure with your party and not be the jerk who constantly attempts to ruin everyone else’s gaming experience. Create a character that can blend into the party and/or use the party to achieve your life long goal of power.
The campaign takes a lot of work for the DM. You must sit with the players and have them explain their goals to you in detail. What is their end game and how do they expect to achieve it. This should be the first night with them explaining the background of their characters.
There is careful balance when running a terror filled “Evil” campaign. There are times when a player may turn on the party. This can lead to a game ender. The other game ender is when they begin the slaughter of to many innocence towns folk. Now they are hunted and a few low level characters are no match for the experienced ranger.
You can still have them wandering around dungeons searching for artifacts to obtain their merciless way to power or strictly just for the adventure time, since adventuring is still the best way to gather loot and valuables.
One of the most interesting things about having that dastardly group of malcontents is that allies can also be enemies. That is correct! Everyone is not your friend and will hunt you down or use you to meet their own evil designs. There will be no short supply of foes in the evil campaign. So basically in theory the whole land is out to get them. You might want to inform them of this before they decide to embark on their reign of destruction.
As a DM you will need to come up with a series of encounters that introduce the players to their new world. Think, now they work for the opposite side of the law and will be a part of the Thieves’ guild or local tyrant doing the biding of a master rather than trying to save the world from the array of nasties that plague the land.
It requires a bit of practice but you will get the hand of it. Just think opposite and that every action will have a reaction. Player will learn very fast that stealing from town over and over again will start the pointing of fingers at them. A bad rep can close a lot of doors very fast. You will see how fast they change when they are not allowed in town any more or that good group of adventures starts to track them down. Having a paladin for a foe can be most unpleasant.
I think one of the best turn of events I’ve ever had was when I took all the evil characters the players created and turned them into NPC’s for a good campaign the following year. I laughed as they encountered themselves a year later.
The evil adventuring parties I have run have been a ton of fun when done correctly. Something to keep in mind is that they are normally short lived. Use them as break in the campaign.
The creation of the adventures will be an excellent part in your DM advancement of being that awesome person where everyone wants in on your group. There is nothing like having a waiting list for your group. Running the group will also provide you with a new array of ideas. Players are the greatest source of enlightenment.