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Good and evil characters


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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slade867 wrote:
Fundamentally, it comes down to the fact that someone will come to the party asking them to do some difficult task for little to no reward. And the good guys will do it. But the evil one, in my mind, would think this was stupid. Why would he/she go along?

Three answers spring out at me:

1) Loss leader
2) Relationship value
3) Fame and reputation

1) Loss leaders are where you take a loss on a transaction because it brings in other transactions on which you make a profit that overwhelms the loss. If you get a reputation as awesome heroic types, and most of the jobs for awesome heroic types pay awfully well, then occasionally doing a job that doesn't pay well could be worth it to keep the high-paying jobs coming in.

2) You're in a team and that team has value to you. So being evil in PF means selfish, and that means the question is always "is this worth it for me?", but you're hanging around with these people for a reason. If they go off to do good deeds then that might not make you any money, but maybe they're your friends and you like them, so you go to keep them alive. Or maybe you think this adventuring business has overall been very good for you, so you go along to preserve the business relationship even though you think this is the wrong decision.

3) Fame and a good reputation can bring benefits that aren't strictly measured in cash. Being a rich and extremely successful burglar doesn't get people complimenting you in the street. Saving the town does. Being famous heroes might make you a hit with the people you find attractive. Maybe you like bards singing songs about how awesome you are. Maybe you like people in taverns toasting you.

Evil means selfish means you do things for you. The benefit doesn't have to be immediate and currency-based. Evil doesn't have to be miserly or cruel, it just has a sense of what it values and a determination to get those things. Evil characters can work perfectly well with others, as long as that seems to be getting them what they want.


I'm playing an evil character in a group of people that includes a paladin, and he's been very careful to conceal his motivations and alignment. So much so he actually got offended when he spent his own money on a lovely set of necklaces with ruby encrusted scarab amulets on them for everyone and the paladin checked it for poison.

He's very polite and pragmatic, often letting the paladin take the lead because "ladies first" is a well-mannered thing to do. Also she wears more armor and he is but a squishy 'priest' of Mystra.

Evil and Good can work together. It just takes more work. In the above case, we are currently trying to overthrow and evil Sorceress Queen who may have accidentally stolen an artifact from us. We also match the description of people prophesied to dethrone her. >.>


slade867 wrote:

How do things not eventually come to a head? Someone mentioned the party that wants to stop an evil wizard while he's thinking the wizard is in his chair. When the wizard's defeated, the party's not just going to let you keep the evil macguffin.

Or what if some theif robs a bank? Good guys want to give the money back, bad guy wants to keep it. Does the evil one just say nothing? Does he try to subvert everyone elses wishes and steal it?

In these examples, the problem is arriving when the (perceived) value of breaking from the party is greater than the (perceived) value of sticking with the party. If the macguffin is worth more than Evil Sara's relationship with the party, then she might try and run off with it. But if the campaign ends before that moment comes then there isn't a problem.

So the key is to construct a party who have things linking them, including a shared motivation, and make it so the temptations aren't bigger than the value of the party.

(Alternatively, roll with it, and the next phase of the campaign can be what's left of the party hunting down their former friend and new adversary.)


Klorox wrote:
Well, Tymora offers my character luck and protection from his fiendish origins... I don't know what fiends his thayvian ancestors consorted with, but he's not gonna deal with those.

There's nothing that says you have to be Evil in the Warlock description. You can be a Warlock with Fiendish influences on your powers, and still be a Goodly person. Lathander is all about Renewal and Redemption. If the cleric sees you being Good despite your "Fiendish" powers, he should be on board with it.


I have loved reading this discussion.

My $0.02 on the subject are that of *course* good and evil can work together. When Darkseid is trying to destroy the planet Earth, Lex Luthor is happy to suit up and fight alongside Superman to stop it. Luthor obviously has an interest in keeping the planet here.

Is Luthor willing to betray Superman if it benefits him? Absolutely. But he's neither stupid nor insane. He won't do anything that jeopardizes his greater goal.

So, it's definitely possible to have a mixed alignment party, especially for a one-shot scenario where the evil character's long-term goals wouldn't be served by betraying the good characters during that scenario.

Does it get harder for long-term campaigns to have an evil party member, especially if the evil character does actually find themselves in a position that screwing over the good characters is worth the loss they have from losing a worthwhile band of allies? You bet.

But there's a certain amount of meta-gaming that is required to put any gaming group/adventuring party together. Typically, the group talks about what they're doing to make sure that there is a mixture of arcane and divine magic, skill usage, and front-line fighting ability. Just like a party is going to have issues with everyone playing a Sorcerer, you're going to have issues if one person plays an evil character without figuring out how that group dynamic works.

As with anything, discussion between the players and the GM about what their goals are for the campaign (the *players'* goals - not just their characters' goals) is essential. With the right group, and the right campaign, there can be plenty of ways to make a mixed alignment party work. But part of that involves a very honest discussion about "If your character ends up doing X, it may turn out very poorly for you," with the evil player, and making sure that everyone knows what kind of campaign you're running.

(Which also doesn't mean that a GM isn't well within their rights to say "No evil aligned characters." Because if the GM isn't willing to run that kind of intra-party dynamic, than they shouldn't have to.)

Liberty's Edge

If you ask me, Neutral Evil is one of the best alignments to have in a party. Neutral Evil characters place a high value on maintaining valuable alliances and will do their best to avoid compromising their relationship with any party members or the overall mission of the party. The only downside is that their strong self preservation instinct makes them more likely to betray an ally who becomes a hindrance than other alignments.

Lawful Evil characters make good party members too, and their code of honour means you don't have to worry about them betraying you as much as a Neutral Evil character. At the same time they tend to be a lot less willing to compromise than a Neutral Evil character, which causes issues when you need a chaotic solution to a problem.

Chaotic Evil, however, is the worst alignment to have in a party. It's the ultimate "doesn't play well with others" alignment.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
PrinceRaven wrote:
Chaotic Evil, however, is the worst alignment to have in a party. It's the ultimate "doesn't play well with others" alignment.

Very true!

... however!

I mention here and here go into how it's possible!

Basically, playing chaotic evil doesn't mean playing a character that betrays the party... but you, the player, have to be mature enough to control your character and you have to make the decisions instead, then justify it after-the-fact.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

"Aw, hell Jim. I could never harm you. You're honest and brave and true. You didn't learn that from me,"

The man who planned a mutiny and was a legitimate pirate, not the caricatures mostly seen, and the only one Billy Bones ever afeared... could not bring himself to shoot Jim, who was going to literally blow the whistle on him.

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