Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

Make me into an Evil Bastard


Gamer Talk


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Inspired by the "who don't people play heroes" thread.

I've realized just how much trouble I have creating villains. They end up cartoony, or else too quickly redeemed. I have trouble understanding the enjoyment of suffering, and it shows in my GMing. To give you an idea of what sorts of things I think to put in games, here's a rundown of a few world elements:

Teiflings who are the descendants of abyssal/infernal creatures led out of the underworld by an avatar of Iomedae (I've blended core pantheon with my own homebrew). They are the Kuzkoans, the People of the Sun.

Primitive goblins with prehensile tails. They are the bastard descendents of a reptile god and a Hindu-esque monkey creature.

Ratfolk who are Buddhist monks. (tmnt 4thewin!)

Fallen angels whose wings were cut. They are the Husari, Horse Lords. They wear wings on their armor.

A drug war between wizards/alchemists and wild casters (druids and witches and such). Wizards have the market on traditional potions and such to "cure what ails you" and have created a monopoly on the pharmaceutical industry. Druids know what plants will do the same thing. Meanwhile, people fear the sea god ( a farce pulled off by the paid off temples) and thus do not make journeys over the sea in boats. In order to instill this fear, hemp (which cones from the evil druid plant) has been outlawed. Hemp makes good rope, but since the plant has been all but eradicated, no one knows it.

Wow, started to ramble there....
But yeah, need to think more evilly so the party has more to fix...help please?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
Fallen angels whose wings were cut. They are the Husari, Horse Lords. They wear wings on their armor.

Are they the best cavalry of your setting? Are they? :D

*cough*

Villain does not have to enjoy suffering to be Evil.

Babylon 5 Shadows can be considered Evil despite them wanting to improve the universe. What makes them Evil are their methods - they believe that better equates with stronger. They are willing to sacrifice whole species to make other species stronger and are not above destroying species and cultures they perceive weak.

Great villains usually are not Evil for the sake of being Evil (ok, sometimes the simple Chaotic Evil destroyer can be fun) but because they have a Goal and are willing to sacrifice peoples, nations, species or worlds to achieve the Goal. Think of Paladin (or whole Order) that falls because he starts to favor Law over Good. He reaches the conclusion that compassion and mercy are undermining the Order and slowly starts to use more and more ruthless methods in enforcing the envisioned Order because the imperfections must be eradicated.

(ok, I admit I am fan of magnificent Lawful Evil villains. In my current campaign the main antagonist is Church of Bane, at least until the BBEG will be revealed).


They are not really evil. It was more an image of the polish winged hussars that drove me to create them. They don't even have to be angels, just some creature whose wings were cut...

They weren't fleshed out at all.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hi Nepherti,

You need to get away from evil creatures ARE and focus on what evil creatures DO. Give a bright commoner a twisted goal, fill him with the utter determination to do anything necessary to achieve it, and strip away any chance that he can be redeemed - no trite PC speeches will convert him, no threat will cow him, and no loss will dissuade him. Then foist him on an unsuspecting world and let the mayhem commence. I guarantee you will have a satisfying and memorable baddie.

Class and race choices can shape the way in which a baddie achieves his goals and threatens the world/heroes but if you don't have a starting motivation - a mission - and an idea of what he has done already and will do next to achieve that goal... you are stuck with 'generic evil' one-off baddies who never really get under the characters' skin.

Evil is as nuanced and variable as Good. If you don't build your baddies the way you'd build a hero - they will never stand out or reach their full evil potential. They will always be cardboard evil cut-outs.

Assistant Software Developer

16 people marked this as a favorite.

IMHO, the defining characteristic of evil is the willingness to harm others for personal gain. Note that 'harming others' is only one half of that. No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies." just because that's What Evil Does. Instead, you need to look at the 'personal gain' part. Maybe the villian thinks bathing in the blood of virgins will grant him eternal youth. Maybe he thinks billing his peons for blunting his whips is simply cost-effective. Maybe he thinks if he relinquishes his iron grip on power, his replacement will squander the Empire he has spent a lifetime building.

Drejk pointed out a great category of this: villians who want to reshape the world and suffering (of others) now is the price of a more desireable universe later. Agent Smith wanted to contain Humans because they were innately dangerous (in his mind). R'as al Ghul wants to destroy civilization because a Malthusian collapse is coming and it's better if it happens sooner than later. The Spartans left imperfect babies to die because they thought it was for the betterment of their race, and enslaved an entire other race (the Helots) because doing brute labor isn't soldiering.

Another great motivation for Evil is greed or lust for power. These examples aren't into the suffering of others per-se, they just don't care if others suffer for their own profit. See any number of late-80's/early-90's movies about saving a poor housing development/community center/school/whatever from being bulldozed by a real estate developer who wanted to put in condos or a mall. The developer doesn't want to ruin people's lives specifically, but will if it means a quick buck. Dictators usually also fit this pattern: ruthlessly punishing the opposition is simply the cost of remaining at the top. This category includes shortcuts through violence also: why work all day when I can let some other guy do that, and mug him on the way home from payday.

Other villians have some sort of statement to make, and hurting other people is how to get enough attention to spread that message. The Riddler does this: he wants to match wits, and lethal stakes are his way of preventing his adversary from simply refusing to play. Likewise, see just about any terrorist group. Perhaps the suffering is the message: the Joker does this, and I think Jigsaw from the Saw movies did the same (I've never actually watched them.)

The idea of personal gain can be pretty idiosyncratic, too. Plenty of Mad Scientist archetypes were less about taking over the world or making it rich, but about unlocking some universal mystery. But 'informed consent' and 'animal trials' take too long. And that toxic waste had to go somewhere. Doctor Moreau. The Scarecrow. Victor Frankenstein. Young Walter Bishop.

TL:DR version - For most evil, suffering is a means, not an end. Figure out what motivates them first, then twist that so it takes a shortcut through other people's happiness.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ross Byers wrote:
No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies."

Welp I didn't make it past here before completely losing it. Well played Ross, well played.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Ross Byers wrote:
No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies."

This is the best sentence I have ever read.

And now I'm hungry.

Qadira

Jack The Ripper: Under the law you can pretty much justify anything so here we have civilization. Civilization is corrupt and dying. Populace tolerates corruption, government officials tolerate corruption.

In walks Jack the Ripper - guts a few prostitutes in the middle of the worst suburb in a ritual killing. Media sensationalizes the whole thing - Populace outcry - where are the Police? We need more Police.

Law and Order improves. Suburb improves - criminals and corruption are stomped on.

What Law? Sedition and Treason: Sedition is any act including acts of government, law, constitution, sovereign causing government, law, constitution, sovereign to be held in hatred and contempt and All crime including Sedition is an assault on the State and thus Treason - resisting arrest under charge of Treason (and thus contempt for accountability) carry a death sentence under the law.

So Jack the Ripper functions within the bounds of the law. He executes the unaccountable criminals for resisting arrest under charge of Treason. Law and order Restored.
Ross Byers says Evil is the harm of others for personal benefit: There is no greater personal benefit than an act that benefits everyone including the perpetrator of the crime. So Enforcement of the Law on those who choose not to be accountable to it can be evil if you enforce the ultimate penalty.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Anyway, agreeing with the idea of very different villains.

Well-intentioned extremists who truly think they can make the world better...but can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, etc. Self-centered lazy types who will take every shortcut, all others be damned - and that could be a "save the town" plotline or a "whoops, so what if we broke every OSHA code in the book and people will die as a result? fixing it takes work" story. Sadists who truly enjoy pain. A former hero who just couldn't handle the pressure anymore and snapped. Combinations of the above, and many others. But their story has to come first - before they do anything evil, you as the storyteller need to know why they are evil and what they want to gain from their evil acts.

Honestly, I love the evil overlord who isn't all that evil. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach from Girl Genius is a wonderful example - he's not evil, but he does rule with an iron fist to the point that many think he may as well be, but he hates it and only does it because it needs to be done.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Everything Ross just said. Seriously.

I'd also like to add my own two cents here, if I could, in the form of reminding you that a villain need not necessarily be evil, so long as the goals of the villain go against the perceived greater good of the rest of civilization.

Case in point from my own campaigns: The Black Swan Prince.

In the history of the game world, there was an Age of Kings - in which the aptly-named Eternal Kings ruled over the majority of the super continent on which the game was set. For centuries, these rulers acted as benevolent dictators, until their own power and sense of superiority drove them into the realm of despots and killers of their own people. Eventually, their empire fell, and was all but forgotten save for a few relics and their bloodline. The bloodline would become a societal curse, as any of the "black bloods" would most often find themselves ostracized and the victims of extreme social pressure.

Until the Black Swan Prince.

Here was a vital, charismatic young man who managed to overcome the centuries of prejudice and bias against himself and those like him, who built a legitimate fortune and network of supporters, and was successfully elected to the role of Prime Minister of his homeland. By the age of 30, he had negotiated treaties with the neighboring nations, and brought these oft-bickering, squabbling city states under one banner: His.

He later found Nirik - Sword Of Kings - and as a member of the Black Bloodline, was able to claim it as his rightful birthright. He used its power to cure the sick and uncover corruption in the ranks of his allies and neighboring governments, and by the age of 40, had lead his people to peace. He naturally sought to extend this peace to the allies of his nation, and their allies as well.

The neighboring nations, all of whom had also been established following the diaspora from the Land of Kings, wanted nothing to do with this. To them, the Black Swan Prince was nothing short of an embodiment of an era of torture, plague, and the murder of innocents in the streets at the hands of omni-powerful madmen. They closed their borders to the merchants and diplomats of the Prince's fledgling nation, and began rounding up the various Black Bloods and forcing them to swear away any ties to their blood and their heritage - any who refused met with exile... at best.

By the end of the campaign, the war between the Black Swan Prince and the rest of the world had been averted - narrowly. Very very narrowly. But only because the Prince went off into the old broken lands of the Eternal Kings and was never seen again (thanks to a very gripping conversation between him and the PC's). The villain in this piece was not an evil man. His motives and his drives were as pure as any Paladins. He wanted to help.

But the rulers and people of the nations around him couldn't take that chance. To them, he was the pure embodiment of a past they couldn't dare take a chance of returning to. The mantra of "never again" rang very clearly in their ears, and they would have nothing to do with him - they couldn't take the chance that he was using the powers of the sword to sway the minds of his allies. They couldn't take the chance that the birthright of his blood might one day give him powers to rival the mightiest wizards and priests. They couldn't take the chance that he might go down the same path to power-fueled madness and become the worst tyrant the world had seen in three hundred years.

Was he evil? Not really.

Was he a villain? Absolutely. His goals were in direct opposition to those of the greater good of the people of the PC's homeland. At least on the surface. He was a villain because of what he represented, and how he could potentially abuse the power he had gained. An important distinction to be made, I think. The PC's might expect some scenery-chewing bad guy whose mantra is "Evil is good! Yeah, baby, yeah!" while lighting bombs and blowing up churches... but get someone sitting around a campfire with his advisers who asks "Would it really be so bad if we were one nation, one people, one heart and one mind?"

Something to think about, at least.

Assistant Software Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Orthos wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies."
Welp I didn't make it past here before completely losing it. Well played Ross, well played.

I was considering doing the whole thing exclusively with examples drawn from Batman villians.


Ross Byers wrote:
No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies." just because that's What Evil Does.

Obviously not. Because true Evil is to eat kittens! That's what real villains do.


Ideas for a temple gone wrong:

Kjartan, Forge God, Lord of Progress.
Married to Iomedae, Daughter of the Mountain, Defender of the People (changed her story a little to fit my setting)

Iomedae, though her clerics still exist, has actually been missing. The temple of her husband devotes their time to finding her. Their main worshipers, the people of Gustav, turn this quest into a war machine. They become very adept at battle, and they finally realize where Iomedae most likely is: across the sea. Across Malathar, the angry one. The unpredictable one. They fear him (malathar is a creation of mr. Nepherti's, based mostly on sheaogorath) and have never ventured out of sight of shore.

The next part of this has a cleric of Kjartan betraying his god in order to bring more progress, progress and technology being part if Kjartans portfolio. Now, in my setting, the way gods come to the material plane is through a method similar to Kevin Smith's Dogma. They take on a humanoid form, gain a character sheet, and will revert back to their godly realm upon death if the body. Most people do not know thus happens. But this Cleric finds out.
He traps Kjartan in a coma. Kjartan can do nothing while this cleric changes the dogma.

I had a whole list of stuff they changed, but it got lost. Must come up with new list.


Drejk wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies." just because that's What Evil Does.
Obviously not. Because true Evil is to eat kittens! That's what real villains do.

What? No way, Mister! That's just wrong!

Where was he holding that kitten, anyway?

Sczarni

This has been good advice so far.

I would add that if you're having trouble coming up with plausible motivations for villains, try this:

Think of some specific idea that's actually true and important. Then imagine what it would be like to believe that that single thing was the ONLY important thing. That absolutely nothing else matters in comparison to it, and any price is worth paying to serve it.

For an example:

Truth: Stealing is bad.

Evil: The most important thing in the world is to prevent stealing. Anybody who steals deserves death. More than that, anybody who even thinks about stealing deserves death. Actually, that's not good enough. Nobody should even have the opportunity to steal. We'd better lock everybody up and watch them all the time. Wait, we also need to lock up everything that could be stolen! And since I'm the only one who actually cares about stealing, I'm the only one that can be trusted! I need to control everything. Its the only way to keep the world safe from thieves!

Qadira

jemstone wrote:

Everything Ross just said. Seriously.

I'd also like to add my own two cents here, if I could, in the form of reminding you that a villain need not necessarily be evil, so long as the goals of the villain go against the perceived greater good of the rest of civilization.

Greater Good? The Greater Good is Evil. To make a decision to take the life of another no matter how you spin it - no matter the laws or justification - That's evil. The only life you have the right to take is your own.


yellowdingo wrote:
jemstone wrote:

Everything Ross just said. Seriously.

I'd also like to add my own two cents here, if I could, in the form of reminding you that a villain need not necessarily be evil, so long as the goals of the villain go against the perceived greater good of the rest of civilization.

Greater Good? The Greater Good is Evil. To make a decision to take the life of another no matter how you spin it - no matter the laws or justification - That's evil. The only life you have the right to take is your own.

I think you are using that term in a far different manner than I am (especially since you capitalized it), and maybe missed my point.

My point being that motivations make the villain, not arbitrary classes or races or gods or skin colors. A villain always has a why and a how. A villain isn't just a what.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I feel like throwing my objection on the whole Greater Good thing, but I'd rather not start a huge morality argument.

However, I will say that between killing 2 people to save 1000 or doing the reverse, I'd believe that most would go for the first option.

Taldor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Let me introduce you to my 4 Lords of Lamastsu I used in a recent game:

They were devout believers in their dark goddess and wanted to bring horrific mutation and the 'blessing' of change to the world.

The Lord of Slaughter - Lead a merc army of Wererats and used his growing power to replace the monarcy of a small provence. He set himself up as the personal 'guard' of the king and used his shapeshifted minions to attack downs and then go into to 'rescue' them. On the side he set up breeding camps where he used prisoners and monsters to make mutants. Turned a local Druid Faction against the local farming communites. The whole plan was to convert or mutate the kingdom into were's and other monsters.

The Lord of Lies - Was acutally 2 people. One was a local law offical, the other a petty crime lord. They used a local noble as a patsy and let everyone think HE was the Lord. They established a noble day spa where they offered youth and energy enhancements but were actually feeding and applying aberration materials to the members. Over time under a mask of flesh the local nobles were turning into Aboleth spawned mutants. On the side they carried out a series of high profile murders to draw investigators off the scent.

And they were the only 2 I got to flesh out.

They still had to find:

The Lord of Murder - A Murder for Hire Guildmaster who was using demon spawn and tieflings to breed a perfect assasain class. He sponsered schools where they tought people to revel in demonic passion and murder.

The Lord of Mercy - A false profit who turned people into worshipful members of his dark lady's community and often had his 'true believers' act as his armies. That's right, the PC's would have to kill innocent town people who were in the way because they thought they were the agents of the 'devils'.

Fun times. Evil is ambition.


Ross wrote:
No (believable) villian wakes up in the morning and thinks "It's time to eat a basket of puppies."

Of course not. Besides, we all know that kittens, not puppies, taste like bacon.


Can I use some if that? The lord of lies sounds cool to add to my drug war, what with the day spa. Plus I have Romans i.e. Roman baths. I hadn't thought how to add lamashtu to my pantheon, but she may be a daughter of my version if asmodeus.

How does this sound for sinister motive for a street preacher of the feared CN sea god:
this npc was a PC who the player had to retire on account of the concept being a mix of al sharpton, Gary busey, and Charlie Manson, which quickly became an anti party goal character.
Athelstan wants his lord, malathar, to gain power. In order to do that, malathar needs followers. He goes around collecting those on the fringe of society and calling them to free themselves from those who would cast the out. I'm talking lepers, criminals, a lot of homeless, orphans. He collects from many nations, and creates a utopia on the seashore somewhere. There, they live in harmony. No one to laugh at them, no one to shun them. And one day Athelstan gets an idea.
The rest of society can see the light of living without law. My followers are all outcasts of that law. In order for others to see the light, they must be broken, just as I was. Just as mu followers were.
But they can't know we caused it. If they did, they wouldn't follow us after they lose everything.

BTW, thanks for all the advice.

Taldor

Fell free to use it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Nepherti wrote:
I've realized just how much trouble I have creating villains. They end up cartoony...

I'm gonna stop you right there and argue an alternative angle, which isn't completely unrelated to the argument about Disney going on in another thread.

Let's take some cartoon villains who are pretty undeniably evil: Mother Gotham, from "Tangled". Dr. Facilier, from "The Princess and the Frog". Scar, from "The Lion King". Discord, from "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic".

These villains are extremely cartoony in that they're essentially irredeemable. Mother Gotham cares only about herself and the prolonging of her life. Dr. Facilier is willing to doom an entire city to pay off his debt with the Friends On The Other Side. Scar is egomaniacal and deranged, and kills his own brother to take over--and then brings the kingdom to ruin just to keep his promises to the hyenas. Discord does everything he can to gain amusement, from creating chocolate rain to twisting his enemies' minds, and is smug all the while.

There's no talk about redemption. They are each, however, engaging villains in their own right. Dr. Facilier is cunning and manipulative, Mother Gotham feigns niceness while deliberately wearing at her "daughter's" self-esteem, Discord acts like best pals with the heroine while driving her to despair.

So maybe a cartoony villain is something you should reconsider. Each of the above villains had perfectly good reasons--in their mind--to do what they did. But nobody's going to try to redeem them. The best they can hope for is prison for life. And the more despicable ones will earn the hatred of the PCs just as they earned the hatred of their audiences.


I like the way you talk, kobold cleaver. That has always been my problem. I let the redeeming quality take charge in villains, to the point I don't want to let them be taken down by the party.

I need irredeemable villains. Athelstan could be one.


Would you be tempted to make Hannibal Lector redeemable?

Or Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General (brilliantly acted by Vincent Price)?

(Although I don't know that I'd want to get into their heads to play them properly as villains.)


well, i do use serial killers, but not all plots can be about hunting them. That's what my slasher plot is with wod hunter. I need to learn non-psychopath evil.


Well, there are varying degrees of crazy, to be fair. A smug, sociopathic doppleganger who tries to turn the PCs against each other by any means necessary, for instance.

Qadira

Icyshadow wrote:

I feel like throwing my objection on the whole Greater Good thing, but I'd rather not start a huge morality argument.

However, I will say that between killing 2 people to save 1000 or doing the reverse, I'd believe that most would go for the first option.

As one of the 2 people likely to be sacrificed I say go sacrifice your self...

As Sigourney Weaver Said: "Well Screw That!"


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This whole thread is full of anti-win!


yellowdingo wrote:
jemstone wrote:

Everything Ross just said. Seriously.

I'd also like to add my own two cents here, if I could, in the form of reminding you that a villain need not necessarily be evil, so long as the goals of the villain go against the perceived greater good of the rest of civilization.

Greater Good? The Greater Good is Evil. To make a decision to take the life of another no matter how you spin it - no matter the laws or justification - That's evil. The only life you have the right to take is your own.

then all people of good alignment have to be actual pacifists, in your view? Never taking up arms in any circumstances?

Taldor

yellowdingo wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

I feel like throwing my objection on the whole Greater Good thing, but I'd rather not start a huge morality argument.

However, I will say that between killing 2 people to save 1000 or doing the reverse, I'd believe that most would go for the first option.

As one of the 2 people likely to be sacrificed I say go sacrifice your self...

As Sigourney Weaver Said: "Well Screw That!"

Sorry, extreme opinions never work. 1 person dying instead of a 1000 is much better. Sucks for that 1 person, sure. But if I was given a choice in between the villain shooting me or setting a thousand people on fire?

Id say "shoot" in a heartbeat. Not to do so is extremely selfish and, honestly so egotistical...

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Or find a third option.

Taldor

Orthos wrote:
Or find a third option.

You're funny.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

YEEEESSSSSSS!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dot.


Always happy to assist others with Team Evil™ … well, team LE anyway. Those others can be tools. :)

At any rate, I’m a bit confused by the intent of your original post:

Are you seeking assistance in reflavoring / refocusing your existing world elements to a more evil bend.
Are you requesting assistance in writing more evil into your world and giving examples of what you have done for comparison & contrast’ sake?
Are you asking advice on how to write / run a “better evil”?
Is this a clever scheme to find out how the Team Evil™ cookies are made? (HINT: no bake cookies are generally the best for those just starting their evil path as the brimstone smell often ruins the flavor of those baked in the hellish ovens if not properly accounted for)
Are you seeking a way to properly flavor your evil for better conflict with PCs to have them (or you) more invested in your story?
Other: (please specify)
Some combination of the above (please specify)

-TimD

P.S. good advise up-thread if that's what you're looking for!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Have an NPC invent mobile games with a pay-to-win model. Ultimate evil in a nutshell.


Holy Necros Batman!


Tels wrote:
Holy Necros Batman!

...too true. Wow.

-TimD


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Mother Gotham, from "Tangled".

Oh god oh god it's Mother Gothel you stupid stupid lizard rat creature.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Hama wrote:


Sorry, extreme opinions never work. 1 person dying instead of a 1000 is much better. Sucks for that 1 person, sure. But if I was given a choice in between the villain shooting me or setting a thousand people on fire?
Id say "shoot" in a heartbeat. Not to do so is extremely selfish and, honestly so egotistical...

As a selfish and egotistical person, I have to say those 1000 people aren't nearly as important to me as I am.

Taldor

I am also selfish and egotistical. It cost me my longest and happiest relationship. I would still choose them over me.

Silver Crusade

One of my favorite villains started out strong. Ruled an entire region. He got greedy, fell in with dark powers, and went from fearsome war chief to doorstop in a few short months. When he met the PCs for the third time, he offered to help them, forcing them to questions what to do.


Ask yourself this: In defence of your home and loved ones, hell maybe even an idea, culture or religion (thank you Ernest Becker) - What WOULD you do?

Or perhaps the answer should be what wouldn't you do?

Also the opposite of evil is technically 'Good', how easy would it be to set people up against an altruistic goal (say combatting global warming, achieving world peace or even free medical care for everyone)?

Take morality and god out of any desired goal, then seek to achieve it in the most efficient fashion, some evil will come of this (and yes, that does sound like capitalism at work).

Taldor

A simple answer.

Home? Not that much.
Loved ones? There is very little I wouldn't commit to protect my loved ones.
Culture or religion? Couldn't care less.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

"Bad isn't that bad when you're doing it to bad girls." - Shirley Bennett giving in to the corruption of power (Community S2E7).

As many have previously stated in various ways; evil NPCs are only evil by their actions...in the game. It doesn't matter what their race, species, class, etc., are, that's all flavoring to the main course.

Writing "Alignment: [Something]Evil" on an NPC's sheet doesn't truly make them evil. Sure, if they're powerful enough to have an aura they'll register as evil when a detect evil spell is lobbed in their face but it's still a bland dressing on the undiscovered meal.

None of the OP examples have any action seasonings (evil or otherwise), save the drug war example but nothing in that example has the overpowering taste of evil: The wizards corner the market on potions. Hemp is outlawed...even though it's nearly eradicated. The only hint of non-good in the whole example is that people have been made to fear the sea god as a farce by the temples. But no explanation for why the temple is doing so. Any number of ingredients could be included that would actually make the wizards, or the druids, or the temples evil or good or neutral.

In creative writing terms, the OP is an example of telling, not showing.

It's the difference between;

"The landlord was an evil man."
and
"With a final stroke of his pen, the landlord ensured his pockets would be filled and the orphanage would be torn down by the end of the week; sending hundreds of children into the winter-frozen streets of the city."

What is it that the tieflings, goblins, ratfolk, and fallen angels do that makes them evil...or at least makes the "normal" peoples of the world think they're evil...or are those just cultural examples for the campaign in which to work in order to form evil villains?

Each one of those first four entries should have a sentence that starts with "And now they are..." describing how they fit in (or don't) with the rest of civilization, describing what makes them evil.

For example...

"And the tieflings, in their rage against evil foreparents, strike out unmercifully against cults in the capital city at night, caring not if innocents are slain in the process."

"And the primate goblins have been stealing small children from the border villages to use as sacrifices to their ancestor-god."

"And the ratfolk view the civilized humans (or what ever) as debauched and barbarous, the monks seek out to convert the humans by any means available to become second-class citizens in their society."

"And the fallen angles seek redemption through the honor of mounted combat with all who encroach upon their territory as they think by reaching a specific number of "honorable" kills can they regain their wings."

With something like that, you now have the base ingredients to draw upon to make less-cartoony BBEGs and their minions, along with good NPCs within those groups that can help the PCs; traitors to their kind as they see the evil being done, opposition parties, etc.

As for the Wizards/Druids/Temple situation. If the wizards have formed an "alchemical guild" that ensures the quality of the potions and ingredients used to make them...then far from evil. If they use the power of their monopoly to kill independent potion-makers then we're moving in the "right" direction for making an evil organization. Who made the hemp illegal and why? Was the whole city using it far more than recreationally in the past, causing the populace to stop working and just feed off the fish they fished from the fisheries which caused the temple to grow angry that all they got was fish bones in the collection plates so they made hemp illegal and paid the druids to eradicate the plant, paid them with fish until the last boats fell to ruin so now the druids are turning to making potions in opposition to the alchemical guild?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Fizzygoo certainly isn't wrong, though I think there's a time for compelling, tragic villains and a time for a villain who's just an a*!#$~&. It's good to balance the two without going all in one direction.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Fizzygoo certainly isn't wrong, though I think there's a time for compelling, tragic villains and a time for a villain who's just an a*&#%!*. It's good to balance the two without going all in one direction.

I like your thinking, KC :)

a*&#%!* NPCs are great all around, including avoiding cartoonish evil villains.

In the campaign I'm running currently, for the first couple of months, I kept having townsfolk and merchants mention how horrible and terrible this bandit, the Ironhide Kid, and his troupe is, always raiding caravans coming to their city but never often enough for authorities to get a fix on the bandit's location. With the lieutenants, a vicious gnoll fist-fighter, named Zengyek, and a dwarven gunslinger, the people were afraid of the bandits even though they had never robbed anything in town. But overall the info the PCs are getting indicates that these bandits are well above their level.

long play by play of an encounter:

Then the PCs started asking, "well, how many have they killed?" And they either got answers of, "well, thousands!" or "now that I think about it, don't think they killed anyone, just ruffed up the caravans that got mouthy with'em."

So after a while of this, the party's out on the highway, mounted on their horses, and they see this gnoll, unarmed but wearing armor, coming up on the side of the road, up a head of them, and heading in the same direction they're traveling. It sees them, slows, and then stops in the road.

The magus in the party informs the party that it's probably the Ironhide kid's gnoll lieutenant.

The druid asks if it's lost, and it says "no more than you."

Well, the party has a rather fascist inquisitor of the goddess of merchants among them and she says, "whether you find this convincing or not, you've picked the wrong company to trifle with. I suggest you leave. Now."

The magus interrupts, "We are merely passing through we seek to get to Wyrmpass Inn."

The cleric of the goddess of war draws her sword.

The druid and the sorcerer just stand back.

The gnoll then looks at the inquisitor and the cleric and says, "I think there's a toll on this road now. For you two," pointing at the inquisitor and the cleric, "the pretty ones. Your gold, and you may go. Or...I beat the hell out of both of you, I take your gold and anything else I want and then you may go."

The player playing the inquisitor says, "as soon as he says 'beat the hell out of both of you' I fire a crossbow bolt at him." She misses and tries to bluff that it was a warning shot. And then the inquisitor says, "As a cleric of the goddess of merchants, I am certain there are no tolls on this road."

The Magus says, "This is insanity! Zengyek, I apologize she is out of her mind, obviously she does not know your reputation, please, I beg of you, let us go by."

The cleric of the goddess of war puts on her shield.

The gnoll, a 6th level barbarian brutal pugilist (versus the APL of 1) charges the inquisitor and...punches her horse in the face, nearly dropping it.

The inquisitor then, after all that, tries diplomacy while rapid-reloading her crossbow, "I wish no further harm, but neither will you get all of my gold. What can we negotiate?"

The Magus whispers, "says the woman that fired her crossbow at it."

"That was a warning," snaps the inquisitor and dismounts her horse.

The sorcerer, says to the inquisitor, "the word you're looking for is '[garbled speak indicating he knows the gnoll's language].'"

The cleric of the goddess of war dismounts and starts casting enlarge person.

The gnoll says to the cleric of the goddess of war, "wait here for me," and intimidates her (shaken) and moves up on the cleric who hits with a critical on her attack of opportunity (dealing a quarter of its hp in damage).

The druid moves up with his wolf and says, "no one needs to die this day, it's not too late to stop this," with his spear in hand.

The inquisitor takes a five-foot step back, readies an action to fire if he attacks her.

The magus watches in horror and spies a dwarf (likely the gunslinger bandit lieutenant) down the road walking two horses.

The gnoll punches the cleric dealing non-lethal for almost half of her hp total.

Then punches at the inquisitor, readied action she fires her bolt and hits, doing a small amount of damage, and it misses its attack. "I warned you," the inquisitor says.

The druid's wolf moves in and bites, but misses.

The sorcerer delays.

The magus delays but is sure that a dwarf is coming down the road up ahead.

The cleric swings but misses.

The magus says, "we may be dealing with the whole bandit troupe here in just a moment! Can we just cease hostilities for just a second ladies...and gnoll!?"

The gnoll says, "Doggie treat go away, women mine!" and swings at the inquisitor, dealing half her hp in non-lethal damage. He swings again, and drops the inquisitor then spins to stare at the cleric.

The druid says, "no, she's mine," then attacks but misses, as does his wolf.

The sorcerer looks around confused...indecisive, "should I cast sleep?"

The magus points at the dwarf down the road about 200 feet away, "He is a dwarf that knows how to shoot a rifle! We are well within that range! And my head is bigger than most!"

The sorcerer replies, "I meant it would work on our companions as well."

The magus asks, "what are you talking about?"

"sleep" says the sorcerer.

Laughing, "that is a very good idea," says the magus.

The sorcerer un-delays and casts sleep next to the gnoll. The druid falls asleep, and his wolf falls asleep. The sorcerer then says with commanding respect in the gnoll's language, "please stop."

The cleric swings again, hitting, 15% of the gnoll's total hp.

The gnoll then moves back in on the cleric, taking an attack of opportunity for another 15% of total hp, then swings at the cleric taking her sword out of her hand and then swings again but misses.

The magus pleads for the cleric to stand down.

The sorcerer delays.

The cleric takes out her dagger and swings, hits, deals 8% of the gnolls total hp in damage.

The gnoll rolls a critical on the cleric, non-lethal damage, but knocks her unconscious.

"You showed them, well done," the sorcerer says, "may I take my women now?"

"Not now, no," replies the gnoll as he rifles through the cleric and inquisitors pouches, taking all their coin and takes the cleric's sword.

"Zengyek, you have the coin. But that sword is a family heirloom, please, she's learned her lesson," says the magus, "if you wish a trophy, take her shield, it's valuable, but the sword...it's a family heirloom." He rolls a diplomacy check.

The gnoll says, "for your coin, yes." The magus hands over his coin. The gnoll throws the sword on the cleric, then mounts the inquisitor's horse and rides off with the dwarf into the sunset.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Community / Gamer Life / Gamer Talk / Make me into an Evil Bastard All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.