Making an Evil Campaign Work - A look at classes

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I’ve been mulling over our discussions concerning evil campaigns and I'm wondering something concerning characters which is, what if part of the problem is certain classes don’t actually fit into an evil campaign? Should there be a mix up or perhaps specific classes excluded from an evil campaign, maybe even different ones introduced so as to allow exclusive classes to the campaign?

Paladins as portrayed in the core rules are definitely not cut out for a straight up evil campaign since most of their abilities are counter productive to the nature of the setting, except when fighting rival factions. There has also been some alternative classes introduced in other settings/systems which might fit in nicely, namely the assassin classes and the dread necromancer to start. I think I’d go with the assassin as written up by AEG for their Warlord RPG when it comes to that one. I like their ability to study an opponent then take them out if they succeed in hitting and then the save fails. Their version of the scout might be a good replacement as well for the ranger, but I don’t know if that class needs replacing.

Are there any other classes you think should be altered, excluded, or included to make an evil campaign work? What about incorporating classes geared toward seduction or the occult? What about prestige classes and their function within an evil campaign?

I just completed an evil campaign, which had a wide variety of players (some are irregulars, who are out of town for school & things like that). The only class I banned was Paladin, & it worked out fine.

My characters:

-"Human" Fighter: Very violent. Led the charge on a temple of Iomedea, killed all the defenders, and then paid to erect a statue of himself. With the help of the party's Gnome Bard, set himself up as a false god.

-Gnome Bard: Helped set up the Fighter as a False God, as an excuse to help fleece peasants for money. Literally created a false religion for fun & profit. Oh, and had a dinosaur mount... b/c it was funny.

-Human Rogue: If you've ever seen the show Avatar: The Last Airbender... basically Azula. If you haven't seen the show, off-the-deep-end crazy & obsessed w/ revenge over the smallest of slights.

-Half-Elven Druid: Seeking revenge b/c her father "abandoned" her. Viewed the Druid philosophy through a "predator/prey" mentality. She viewed everyone else as "prey."

-Human Sorcerer (Undead Bloodline): Killed & usurped his father, claiming his own political holdings. Set up an oppressive government.

-Half-Orc Barbarian: Do I need to explain how this one went evil? I mean, really?

-Half-Orc Barbarian #2: I mean, really? Should I elaborate?

-Human Alchemist: Simple summary: Alchemy = Drugs & Poisons.

-Half-Elven Cleric: Evil Cleric to Lamashtu, Goddess of Madness.

The party did all sorts of evil things... like turn opponents skulls into fancy "Hats of Evil!!!" Slaughtering Paladins. Murdering family members... etc... etc...

We didn't have a Ranger or a Wizard, but they could have fit in just as well. All you have to do is give them an evil motivation. If it helps, just pull out the whole "Seven Deadly Sins" list, and create a standard PC who's driven by one of those motivations.

Most of your spell lists are actually neutral, so it's easy to give them an evil twist. (Like the Fire-Obsessed Wizard NPC from my game who constantly talked about how he liked the smell of burning flesh.)

I'd say with the exception of the Paladin, all of the classes, as written, are easy to adapt to an evil game.

Oh, and fun DM twist: after running an evil game, collect the character sheets, & inform your players that you've just acquired the villains for your next campaign. (Which is exactly what I just did, to great effect!)

Currently my group is running a scoundrels game. We have 2 rogues, the utility rogue and the con-man. A Ranger/Assassin and a Monk. I love evil games because it gets people thinking well outside the box and the players always really enjoy cutting loose.

The best part about an evil game is that you have to watch your back with everyone. When dealing with good parties you normally have other good factions to rely on, or at least they will remain indifferent but with evil games you have no true allies. Everyone is out to get you so it creates such an interesting dynamic.

It’s also fun to just let the players cut loose and go nuts. One of the favorite games my players ever played was a d20 modern game based off of the concept of Grand Theft Auto. Who doesn't want to have high speed shootouts with the cops, rob drug dealers and run over grandma once in a while?

I am actually getting ready to start another evil campaign for my group. I have played in one previously and ran another one semi-successfully (we stopped due to players moving away and our reduced play time with "grown up" stuff like kids etc).

Whether or not classes are modified or abandoned really depends on the type of campaign you are trying to create.

If you want to have the grand theft auto style campaign as mentioned above you can use any class. Just target any and all civilians and see if you can make it to level 2.

If you create the "Evil League of Evil" then you have to spend some time with all the players to make sure they don't overlap too much or too little. It's strangely more important in this case than in a typical good party. For example two evil clerics of similar deities can really skew the entire group if they join forces or fight between each other ("no one gets healed until someone stabs Ted in his sleep"). Likewise if you have an evil Barbarian chieftan, a Necromancer obsessed with becoming a lich, an evil Bard discovering heavy metal and a wicked Monk that wants to jump-kick the moon from the are going to have a hard time convincing them all to even sit still long enough in the same country to listen to one another. This type of campaign can be really fun but you end up relying on the players to provide unified plots and schemes to keep the story moving and you as the GM are in more of a reactionary role. But it is always fun to release some of the usual GM control and really let your players get imaginative whether they plan a bank heist, a life of piracy, or maybe searching for a big powerful artifact that they will later kill each other over...

Another way to go with the evil campaign that frees up players somewhat (and totally chains them in others) is to have them all beholden or in debt to a <fill in the blank> that is much more powerful than they are. In this scenario you can have very different evil goals and class balance is not as important because if the evil players don't work somewhat in concert they could draw the ire of their big bad <fill in the blank> and end up deadzies or worse. This is the easiest way to transition from a regular group to GM'ing an evil campaign as the story is still mostly in the GM's control and the evil players get to cackle maniacly on a leash.

In terms of classes I wouldn't dream of having an evil party that lacked both a Wizard and a Cleric. This is precisely because of the extra planning all the other characters have to do to counteract them at mid to high level. Cross the evil wizard and he will turn you into a little girl in mid combat. Cross the evil cleric and you don't ever get healed ever again. It makes for maximum party hilarity.

The real trouble is mixed campaigns, where you have PCs of different alignments trying to work together. The evil characters just want to do their thing, and the good characters just want to keep the evil characters from doing just that. This is especially problematic with good characters like druids, paladins, and cleric. Rogues, fighters, barbarians, monks, bards and arcane spellcasters have enough in common that they can focus on the tasks at hand and accept a little moral ambiguity. But druids paladins and clerics have too much attachment to their respective causes to leave the evil characters well enough alone. As soon as your lives cease to be mutually dependent, a blood bath likely ensues, the good and evil characters sick of each others crap. Only neutral characters get to sit back in awe, although I suppose that's the advantage of neutrality

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