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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.


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"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.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

One good way to get a mixed party "in the door" on working together is to put them in a situation where they need each other, or where the decision isn't up to them. This is a good way to give in-character reasons to work together and establish some basic camaraderie and shared goals, just so long as everyone involved is mature enough not to constantly tweak each other's noses. To give some examples from the APs:

In the first adventure of Legacy of Fire, the party are a couple hirelings working for Almah Roveshki, each with their various reasons. Since Almah's paying for your services, she's not going to put up with you trying to kill each other, and she's got a 4th level fighter by her side to break up any fistfights or the like.

In the first adventure of Serpent's Skull (probably one of the best first adventures of the APs), your party is a bunch of passengers on a ship that got wrecked on an extremely dangerous island filled with monsters, cannibals and worse. Getting into squabbles about having an "E" in your alignment would just be monumentally stupid for everyone involved.

In the first adventure of Skull & Shackles, the pirate have been pressganged onto a pirate ship, where two very powerful figures on the crew decide they don't like the look of them and quickly become hostile to them, giving them a natural enemy to ally against and work together to survive. In fact, both Sandara Quinn and "Fishguts" Kroop exist to drive home the important of making allies on the ship ASAP. Of course, in the first place if you're playing Skull & Shackles you're probably CG at most, but still, that option is there.
---X---
Speaking of how mixed parties can be interesting ones; I was part of a Council of Thieves game where two of the PCs (whose players were dating) were star-crossed childhood sweethearts: one was a girl from one of Westcrown's noble families, who in a fit as a child slipped away from her family while they were out on the town and ended up in a bad part of town, where a tiefling street rat helped her get back, and they talked on the way. The boy slipped away so he wouldn't have to deal with her parents (knowing it likely wouldn't go well for him) and instead quietly followed them to their house. Whenever they could, they'd spend time together, and even shared their first kiss. But one day he was found in the house and had to flee, and the house was too well-guarded for him to ever get back in.

The two ended up going down very different paths: the girl became a typical power-hungry, paranoid, LE Chelish noble scion (if one with a very well-hidden soft spot for tieflings) who discovered a certain talent for conjuration and devil-binding, with eventual aspirations toward out-and-out diabolism. She was brilliant, sophisticated and ruthless, but she trusted no one and loved no one.

The street rat, on the other hand, fell in with a former Taldan noble who had become a hidden priest of Milani (apparently a reference to a previous character he'd played); this priest didn't just teach him the religion of the Everbloom, but also gave him an education in noble subjects like rhetoric, logic, poetry, etc. He became a CG bard who started making a name for himself for his razor-sharp wit and talent for satire, and he started secretly agitating for change.

They reconnected as adults just before the campaign started, and even though they had grown into very different people, their feelings remained strong, not least because both of them found it hard to trust others due to their backgrounds, but could still manage to trust each other. When the tiefling got recruited for Janiven's meeting, he brought along the noble, over Janiven's objections (on her own, until he pointed out that regime change could mean a chance to hold actual power in Westcrown in return for a few minor concessions that would benefit her anyway, since a happy and prosperous Westcrown is a powerful and loyal one, after all).

Honestly, those two played their characters so well and the interactions were so interesting than I only vaguely remember the character I was playing (a guy who saw his parents ripped apart by shadow monsters and decided to fight shadows with shadows by becoming a nigh-heretical LN cleric of Zon-Kuthon who twisted the whole "darkness, loss and pain" thing in ways that might have been grounds for losing his powers looking back). It was this whole great love story that went on throughout the campaign (though they were pretty respectful of not letting it swallow up everything else, so no one really had a problem with it since it was fun and we had our own stories and parts to play) and during it the conjurer became a diabolist behind his back even though her alignment had shifted to LN about halfway through the campaign so that she could have the power to protect the tiefling (who tended to be a little too reckless for his own good, and not just in combat), which caused a lot of problems when he found out. The conjurer became Westcrown's new mayor because her alignment and bloodline made her a palatable "face" for their efforts to clean the place up, and the bard left on a journey to find a way to break the infernal contract and free her soul from Hell.

Also, ever since that campaign I have every tiefling character from Cheliax I make call themselves by the last name "Thrune" (only in private if they still live there), because the tiefling made a point of doing just that, explaining to the party that every tiefling in Cheliax was the result of Thrune's "marriage" with hell, and thus every tiefling born of this union is a Thrune. And I have them cite a pamphlet written by him as their inspiration for the idea.

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