Evil campaign, ever had a good one?

Gamer Life General Discussion

Sovereign Court

I had an excellent evil campaign. We were all really evil characters (no CE ones mind) and we had an agenda to bring back a nearly dead god. We all performed atrocities and killed people and were, well, evil. But we never fought amongst each other and managed to accomplish what we set out to do.
Why is that?
Because our character were intelligent people who realized that although we are all evil and treacherous, our goal will be accomplished much more easily if we all worked together without any plotting behind other people's backs. Amazingly, it worked. We argued, true and there were several fistifhts, even a sword was drawn, but nobody ever held a grudge.

I mean, where is the rule that evil cannot work together?

I've never had an evil campaign, though I'm sure I wouldn't have too much fun in one. It's all a matter of taste and/or opinion, so yeah.

Played a fun evil campaign before. There were some neutrals in it, no good aligned folk. My PC was a LE fighter, second son of a local ruler, whose father was killed and he was blamed for attempting a coup. He managed to gather a few loyal folk and flee the country. Then eventually he returned with his party and a backing army in order to wrest control from his mad eldest brother. I had a whole Vlad Tepes vibe going with that character.

There was a lot of maneuvering and powerplay within the group, but only one incident of player-on-player violence early on, when our CE mage finally went around the bend and tried to kill someone we were sworn to protect. (Basically a plot device...the player of the wizard was bowing out of the campaign.) Oh, and a couple of wizards that joined the party afterwards (ambassadors from another realm sent to curry favor with our country) turned another PC into a sheep.

Had some fun Drow games back in the day that were Lawful Evil in nature. Not that the characters all were, but the society is. You couldnt kill in public etc... We played male drow who where still quite evil, but we had to band together because of the matriarchal nature of drow society. We still backstabed and stole from each other as well. But the whole point was you didnt kill another member, because in your mind another player was a very valuable comodoty. It was a blast, when it came to missions there was great co-operation and in the in between times there was all this great spy versus spy style intrigue amongst party members over the spoils of our victories.

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Played in good "monster race" style one back in 3.5. Also in 3.0 had one shift mostly neutral to a tad evil.

The key to a successful evil game is that it must be the Party vs the World not PC vs PC. You are evil to the "others" and others being defined as anyone not afflicted with the Party's wants and goals. Having a bigger evil guy who is riding rough shod over the PCs who they will come to mutually hate helps direct things as well.

Personally I think the way Paizo structures it's adventure paths is a critical tool for keeping and evil party on task. The initial setup in character creation is important to stress that the PCs are all on the same "Team Evil". Look at COBRA, the Decepticons, any one of another evil organizations from Saturday morning cartoons. Take out the ineptness that comes from them needing to be foils for the heroes and replace it with Player level competence, and suddenly you've got what an evil group can look like.

Personally the original Generation 1 Constructicons are one of the best "PC" style evil teams. As a whole unit an adventuring party can be a rather primal destructive entity (if viewed as a single creature) while it individual parts can be quite brilliant actors. They even had a good point in the 1980s movie. "The Constructions form Devastator, the most powerful robot, we should rule!" Note the "we", very few villian groups think like that... but that's what a long term evil campigne needs to be setup.

Yep Mr. Fishy was good. In a homicidial schizo kender kind of way...Dragon Eyes.

Dorje Sylas wrote:
The key to a successful evil game is that it must be the Party vs the World not PC vs PC. You are evil to the "others" and others being defined as anyone not afflicted with the Party's wants and goals.

I've ran a few and I firmly believe that Dorje is correct here.

Well, unless of course the entire point of the game to have the PC's set against each other. I ran Vampire game once where each player was an Elder out to get each other. I didn't have much fun. I was always paranoid that one little slip would cause the in-game animosity to spill over into the real world. Although the players seemed to like it, I don't think I'd ever run something like that again.

Sovereign Court

My all time favorite campaign was an evil themed one. Players and GM both got to channel the best (worst?) of the dirtiest backstabbiest Paranoia-esque tendancies that are routinely suppressed in normal games.

In order for it to work however, a couple things imo MUST be done.

First of all, everyone involved needs to be aware of the nature of the campaign. Yes, someone is like to steal from you or worse. It's just the game, we're still friends IRL. If everyone is not mature enough emotionally to deal with party treachery, it's a no go from the start. And you can't know for sure with a table including relatively new friends.

Second of all.. as important as the first step is.. without a reason for evil characters/things to cooperate, a campaign will quickly devolve into an orgy of mutual destruction without some sort of higher purpose. In my evil campaign the characters all started out as slaves owned by a necromancer. Their first adventure was to escape to freedom before they were killed by his ongoing experiments upon them.

I was happy to discover that once they had that initial 'work together or die individually' adventure, they were relatively easy to keep focused on more or less being a team. The specter of their necromancer ex-slave master coming after them was sufficient to keep at least a superficial adherence to teamwork. Not to mention the tacit stance I made clear that while I'd cheerfully support 'PvP', I would in no way support solo adventures. Your character has had enough of these heels and you can't think of a reason he'd stick around? Fine, he leaves, he's retired, and you make a new character.

Myself and the players both look back fondly upon those storied characters..
The Kobold Sorcerer who's heart was replaced (by the necromancer) with a zombified St Bernard's heart (and who later became an undead creature entirely)
The Gully Dward Bard (who played his armpits as his musical instrument, and nearly drowned to death testing out the 'ring of water breathing')
The Goblin Rogue who contracted Were-Rat Lycanthropy (and eventually became the regenerating, ever-lasting gobstopper in the maw of a hungry otyugh..)

Evil campaigns are fine, perfectly enjoyable that is; just never, EVER bring a new player into the last stages of the campaign, that will get *weird*.

Silver Crusade

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Personal rules of thumb:

The players must make characters that can work together.

The PCs will not @#$% where they eat. Yes, you can play CE without doing that.

The players will not turn the game into an escalating depravity war.

The absolute must: Lay down some rules and draw some lines so that all players' (including the GM's) comfort zones are respected. For just one example, the GM and other players are not there to enable someone's rape fantasies. Some people don't want to be involved with baby murderin' for another.

Just because the characters are evil doesn't mean they don't have to have standards. Personally, I think that's when they're most interesting. Evil groups would do well to listen to TF2's Sniper on that matter. (excellent example of a very professional and polite LE by the way)

Same lines, just because you're evil doesn't mean you're incapable of caring about something other than yourself. Compartmentalizing one's life and self-deception shouldn't be underestimated. Strongly recommended that the players care about something that ties them together.

Personally, if I were to run a dedicated evil campaign, I'd rather run for a bunch of evil professionals than a pack of little Caligulas setting fire to cats just because they could.

I've never had any trouble running/playing in games where every character was a complete villain. Problem campaigns (for me, anyway) tend to be the good-heroes-vs.-the-evil-horde tropes. Players disagree on some moral choice and an inter-party brawl kicks off.

Currently running a Second Darkness campaign with a group of evil PCs. Seems to be going pretty well so far.

I played in a campaign a while back that, while I wouldn't call it an "evil" campaign, per se, it was. My character was a True Neutral (started at Chaotic Neutral) Barbarian named Ichi who joined this group of adventurers who'd known each other for a while. At that point, the rest of the group was mostly good/neutral- except for the Lawful Evil Cleric of Mask (Forgotten Realms campaign- deity of deception & lies & secrets and whatnot) named Alastair. We went about our lives, fought monsters, over time the majority of the party was killed off and replaced by others (basically, Ichi and Alistair were the only ones still around from when I joined- the other players made new characters, one was Lawful Neutral with evil leanings, the other was full-on Neutral Evil). But there was a great group dynamic- we all worked together (with one exception- when the LN and NE characters were first starting off, one of them jokingly pushed the other into a mysterious portal, and it devolved into the two of them killing each other until the DM intervened- we had an OOC talk after that about what we were doing, and that was the last problem we'd had).

But the lynchpin for the entire campaign was Alistair. He was played by a player who was seriously a mastermind at planning- he had every single contingency planned for, as well as plans on what to do if every one of those contingencies failed. Out of character, I know that Alistair was evil to the core, but my character had no idea- he was THAT manipulative. Throughout the course of the entire campaign, Alistair used his contacts through his church to make our exploits as public as possible- quite strange for a cleric of Mask, but I'll explain- except he twisted every single action we took so it sounded like the most heroic quest imaginable, and he made sure 100% of the credit went solely to my character. In other words, that group of giants we killed? Yeah, they were planning on slaughtering the town, but Ichi took care of 'em. The underground complex of drow that got collapsed? Yeah, they were planning on resurrecting some undead god, but Ichi destroyed it. That iron fortress on the astral plane that got taken down? The lord there was planning an attack on the material plan, but Ichi convinced some dragons to attack it and finished off the rest. (Even when Ichi wasn't even present, he still got the credit.)

That meant that Alistair could be in complete control over who attacked us and why, and he always made sure that the real power behind the group (him and the other spellcasters) were nobodies as far as the rest of the world was concerned. And Ichi? He didn't care. More fame and fortune for him. True, every now and then a horde of demons showed up in his hometown and starting killing innocents in order to get to him, but Alistair made sure they were all raised afterwards. (And Mask suddenly had a bunch of new followers, too!) It was a great campaign, and all because of Alistair's player being such an amazing manipulative bastard.

My original savage tide group was mostly evil. Since 2 of the players have stopped playing because of lack of time, there is now still 1 evil character left and 3 neutralls with some evil tendencies.
But the campaign went well until the moment the two players stopped. It had a sort of "us against the world" feel. Characters did not fight among each other and it did not get tasteless.
What I noticed, however, that some evil characters had a tendency towards neutrality, so they were not all that evil in the end.

The best one was a ranger with an absolute hatred for humanity (she even sacrificed her own brother to her devil patron), but who went all soft whenever an animal was in danger.

I've had several actually. One the earliest ones we did was a campaign primarily based in Thay, which is itself a evil place so it fit well. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to disallow chaotic alignment, some may find that restriction unfair, however it's a way to help ensure the players will not turn on each other first chance they get. One of the best evil campaigns we did was playing Necropolitans, centering around the great city in Thanatos, the undead plane of hell. On a side note major kudos to paizo for creating so many undead-centric archetypes HUGE help in evil campaigns, heck even the dirgesinger(who was a key piece of our campaign) got re-done as an archetype

I've done many evil campaigns. And many standard campaigns with evil characters in them. The key is what type of evil you play. No, not alignment type. I mean that I ban Saturday Morning Cartoon Villains. Yes you may have an evil plan to draw your face on the moon but you have to build your plan as though you have any chance of succeeding.

Evil characters have to remember that they are not the foils. They are the heroes. This doesn't mean they have to act traditionally heroic but that they have to have a goal in mind and be willing to work for it.

So long as the party has that common goal then it shouldn't matter if the CG witch is in the same group as the LE monk. Even paladins have that "for the greater good" clause in their code that allows them to work with evil if they really have to.

My current PF game is very fun, our group can best be described as pragmatically evil not overtly evil.

We suspected an ambush by the bad guys in a warehouse so instead of entering and facing the ambush we burnt the warehouse down and interrogated the dead for answers. Some innocent lives were lost in the fire.

We pay the homeless to spread rumors about our enemies to force there hands out of anger.

We allowed a goblin hoard to pillage a town so we would face less resistance when we raided their lair. We also set up an ambush for the returning raiders so we could take the stuff they took from the town.

On the good side we donated money to rebuild the temple after it was burnt down by the goblins.

Indeed. The longest-running campaign I've been in was a six-year evil campaign, and it was great! The characters were all lawful evil, although I'm pretty sure things would have been fine with neutral evil and chaotic evil characters as well. Personality-wise, we had the pragmatic, calculating evil character, the sociopathic evil character, the megalomaniac evil character (mine, and the source of my avatar's name!), and a Hobbesian "life is nasty, brutish, and short" kind of evil character, and we all worked together just fine. Yeah, we disagreed quite a bit, but having a reason to work together, we never degenerated into true infighting.

Lots of people complain about evil campaigns, and most of these complaints are about backstabbing other characters and screwing everyone else over. Playing evil like that is not really playing evil, just playing stupid. In fact, people playing their characters like that usually don't need the excuse of "well, my character is EVUL!!!" to do that anyway. An evil campaign can work just as well as any other: regardless of the alignment of the characters, if the players are at all mature, they'll find a reason to make the campaign work.

Perhaps the best game I have played in recent years as a player was an evil campaign. This was probably because we discovered Mikaze's rules mentioned above in a very natural way- our first time around we made characters that more or less went against those rules, and we all died(save the bard, of course). The next characters we made were a bit more realistic in both the scope of the game and the scope of their evil. I ended up making a LE Paladin of Asmodeus with HORRID physical stats(I decided the character was extremely young, still going through puberty) who was automatically working with one of my fellow players, who was playing a Knight(remember those?!). My character was something of a golden child in House Chargatheon(sp), born under an unholy sign and destined to lead the family to greatness, if he survived. It was fascinating to us being horribly evil in our dealings with others, but quite gentle with each other. My character was raised in a bubble and was extremely naive about the outside world; the knight was there as his protector but was also a father figure, and showed my character not just the hows, but the whys of life...through the lens of Asmodeus, of course. The other characters groaned whenever I attempted to get involved in combat, but they took me on as the team mascot in many ways as I had a 17 Charisma and was VERY intimidating for one so young (see Wednesday Addams), and they sure didn't mind my healing/enemy demoralizing abilities(homebrewed stuff from the DM). They were great to me as well, the bard enjoyed getting me past the velvet rope at clubs that he owned(read: embezzled), and even the rather irreverent rogue made great conversation about killing with efficient mercy. The DM was horrified to note that in this game moreso than any other he had run, the characters were all truly friends, possibly because we all set off the detect evil spells(which to us were detect "smart people". We called detect good "Detect Sap"). The paladin died attempting to avenge the knight when he was caught in a drow ambush, both the DM and the guy playing the knight were moved by my character's dedication and desire to fight on in the face of long odds to save his friend. The Armiger Chargatneon(he had his name legally changed, he was going to select a real name for himself once he became a true Hellknight)...I miss that evil little guy.

Currently playing in a evil game set in Irrisen. We are playing members of the military....we are all loyal to Irrisen...so there is not alot of party conflict. It has been fun so far.

The only time a party conflict happen was when the ice troll in the group tried to pick a fight with another member of the team during a mission...my character who is the White Witch leader ordered him to stop...he did not so I ordered the group to kill him. When the group started to attack him...he stepped down. So I was nice and relented. But it did definitly I think head off alot of possible party conflict in the future.

GodEmperorDrothan wrote:
Lots of people complain about evil campaigns, and most of these complaints are about backstabbing other characters and screwing everyone else over. Playing evil like that is not really playing evil, just playing stupid. In fact, people playing their characters like that usually don't need the excuse of "well, my character is EVUL!!!" to do that anyway. An evil campaign can work just as well as any other: regardless of the alignment of the characters, if the players are at all mature, they'll find a reason to make the campaign work.

Actually, I've seen just as many complaints about Evil campaigns where backstabbing happens (though sometimes the backstabber is just Chaotic Neutral played in a stupid manner) as I have seen of ones where people want to fulfill some sick power fantasies by raping the local tavern ladies or doing something similarly distasteful.

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