First time doing a campaign.


Is it much harder to gm evil campaigns and do you have anything else to add? thanks.

Theos Imarion wrote:
Is it much harder to gm evil campaigns and do you have anything else to add? thanks.

It's a pretty vague question. Are you asking for first time GM advice or advice for running an evil campaign?

evil campaigns are harder to determine where they will go. and the more power they get, the more people they can exploit, so as they grow in power, they may just start walking into palaces (****extreme example warning****) and saying, "i'm king now!"

Any campaign is hard to run. There is a lot of work that goes into it. Those GMs that are good at what they do put a lot of hard work into learning the system and working out the details while trying to keep everything balanced and fun.

Evil campaigns aren't any harder to run than non-evil ones. A campaign is a campaign. What can make it more difficult is the players and a GM that isn't as skilled as they should be. Some players use evil characters as an excuse to be disruptive. A group of those players is a nightmare. I have played in a couple evil campaigns and we did just fine. I have even run an evil character in a non-evil campaign and we did just fine. Evil does not mean that one must be a serial killer or psychopath.

For some ideas on how evil parties can work together, look at comic books for inspiration. They often have evil parties, some are long lasting. You can also look at movies that have multiple evil characters working together (The Princess Bride is one example). I'm sure there are books that can cover the subject pretty well too. It's been a long time since I've read any of Michael Moorcock's books about the Eternal Champion, but I know Elric was an evil character and some of his companions were rather loyal, and possibly evil as well.

But as I said, all well run campaigns have the same things: a GM that knows the rules, a GM that works hard on the game, and players that aren't asshats.

evil campaigns merely have a higher chance of the PCs going off the rails to do evil things.

Sean Mahoney wrote:
It's a pretty vague question. Are you asking for first time GM advice or advice for running an evil campaign?

Both please.

Liberty's Edge

Theos Imarion wrote:
Is it much harder to gm evil campaigns and do you have anything else to add? thanks.


Undirected campaigns, where PCs do whatever they feel like, with little structure or pre-planning on the GM's part are a bit harder to run than moredirected ones.

Campaigns involving serious infighting among the PCs are much harder to run than campaigns that do not, for all sorts of reasons.

Many Evil campaigns are both undirected and involve infighting, but that's not an absolute, and nothing about the campaign being Evil in and of itself makes the game harder to GM.

ok thanks then my campaign will work hopefully.

with most evil campaigns, there is really very little direction and very much infighting. as said by deadman.

but an evil campaign with infighting can gain direction if the most valuable PC "Strongarms" the rest of the group. i remember a homebrew 3.5 campaign with tuesday tony where 8 players (all 2nd level or therabouts) were frequently pushed around by the muscle of a pair of widowmaker wielding half giant barbarian brothers. it wasn't evil, but the half-giant brothers dominated every decision. it wasn't evil, just a sandbox.

for those of you who don't know the widowmaker, it's a horribly broken weapon from the ultimate equipment guide by mongoose publishing. being large. they deal 3d6 slashing damage with a 2handed swing and a crit range of 18-20 for triple damage. and they called it martial.

i guess i found it hard to do evil campaigns because i kept asking for the pcs to create heroes before hand

The guys over at 3.5 Private Sanctuary recently did a podcast on evil campaigns. Might be worth a listen. (I enjoyed it)

It can be found HERE.

Liberty's Edge

An Evil campaign also doesn't have to be predicated on infighting at all. The one I played in was a Drow nobleman (my character, a Bard) and his entourage (of various races) and their rise to power (they had two kingdoms by the end) in the midst of a war.

It really worked out pretty well, not least because I (as the player of the leader of the group) made very sure to always treat my retainers (PC and NPC) respectfully and politely at all times. After all, what better way to ensure their loyalty? Fear's nice, but better still when combined with love...

I don't think there was ever any infighting of any sort in that game, actually. Certainly less than in many Good-aligned parties I've played in. All kinds of atrocities were committed, of course, but the PCs got along great.other.

Theos, I recommend you subscribe to Johnn Four's Campaign Mastery. He provides lots of advice for players and GMs, information on many systems, suggested house rules, etc.

You can find it here.

The best way to use this is to NOT try to implement everything at once. Just look around and see what advice you want. There's a lot of information there.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I agree with Deadman. Even if you're evil, I'd try to avoid a campaign where the characters are fighting with each other, unless you and they are experienced and realize you can easily disrupt the whole thing and have to start over (or introduce new characters).

A very important advice for all campaigns is to set and plan problems for the players, but do not set the solutions or pre-plan an outcome as that will only lead to bad railroading.
Player will think of things you did not, and act in ways you did not expect, just roll with it and do not try and force the players to adhere to your plans.

The main difference between an evil or good campaign is in motivations for the PCs.
In fact evil groups have a tendency to be less destructive the good gropes as they are usually after creating something new (such as wealth and power for themselves) while good groups are often about stopping evil and tearing down monster lairs.

I'll second a few things above.

If the players use it as an excuse to be disruptive and infighting, evil campaigns are nigh impossible. If they don't, it's not any harder than a regular campaign.

If you're willing to fish for ideas, or want a premade evil campaign, Way of the Wicked is excellent.

Scarab Sages

If you're going to run an evil campaign, save yourself a world of headaches with the following: Insist that the PCs sign a mutual aid compact which prevents them from indiscriminately backstabbing each other until they've accomplished some important goal that all of them are invested in.

I believe this depends entirely on the group on whether you can succeed on running an evil campaign. If your group is full of psychopathic serial killers who kill things just for their loots in a good game, then you are in for a load of trouble by running an evil game.

To me, an evil campaign is a little harder to run because of the higher probability of in-fighting amongst the PCs. There needs to be ground rules set in place to keep the in-fighting out of the game. The characters need to have a reason to actually be together, so I usually ask for a small back-story to tie them in together. They can't be the cliched "meet in a tavern and go on an adventure together" they need a bit stronger tie than that. The things I've used is that they are all part of the same organization, religion, or low guys on the totem pole where a big shot evil warlord/wizard/etc is calling the shots and directing them to go do certain things.

I'd just make sure that the players know ahead of time what kind of behavior I expect from them and that I won't allow certain things to go on and hinder the fun for me. It all comes down to what you want to run in your game world and what you see as acceptable.

The main thing is just to have fun while doing it!

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Personally, I would not recommend an evil campaign for your first time out of the gate. But it can be done successfully.

An evil is extremely dependent on the maturity and cohesiveness of the player group. I don't think my current group could handle it without just killing each other by level 3. A lot of groups just can't really handle it. I've even seen it hurt friendships because players took things personally.

I think one of the big keys is finding some reason why the group will work together LONG TERM. If it is just power and profit, there obviously will come a point where the most power and profit for someone comes at the expense of the goup. Some ideas could be:

A) Special action military group working for some tyrant. He sends them to deal with problems when a full army is not a good choice. Maybe they were all recruited from the military so they all have to have a level of some martial class. Or maybe just all proficient with the same weapon (say heavy flail) that is the 'standard' of the tyrant.

B) 'Mob' or crime family. These are the 'young bloods' of some powerful LE crime syndicate that wants to expand. So they are sent to Suscatchewon to move in on the the local weak crime guild. Maybe they are all bastards of the same guy. So each of them have to be human or half human.

C) Cult. Everyone is members of the same cult worshipping X. They are given orders by the upper level of the clergy to recover artifacts need to summon X back to this plane. Possibly everyone has to have a level in a divine casting class or 3 ranks in knowledge religion.

D) Escaped slaves. The party escapes from a slave ship but do not become noble champions of the down trodden. Instead they are getting even with their prior overloards. And their families. And their friends. And the country that supported them. And the church that let it happen. Etc...

There are many possibilites. But I think you or they need to come up with some reason to cooperate long term.

Be very leary of anyone who is just salivating to play CE. Not always, but usually, they just want to act like an unpredicatable ash hat and disrupt the game.

How should I discourage pvp?

Theos Imarion wrote:
How should I discourage pvp?

Someone more powerful than them willing to put the smack down on any member of the group that openly kills another. Maybe secretly working against each other is tolerated to some extent, maybe not, depending on the Overlord.

Also, when the campaign jumps the shark (and it most likely will at some point) turn the PCs into NPCs and base your next campaign around the PCs trying to kill their former characters who have now run rampant.

Dark Archive

I agree... make it clear and decide as Players that the team should get along for the most part. If you don't get that settled right away the game will deteriorate.

I DM'd a high level evil game and the worse thing to happen was the Rogue died and they carried him around in a bag of holding for a week before Rezzing him. In return the rogue hired assassins to try to kill the group (himself included to throw off suspicion). It was actually one of the more funnier moments of the game.

A BBEG boss as Humphrey Boggard said is not a bad idea. They can funnel their unholy energies towards him and gives them a distant prize of maybe overthrowing him and taking control of his organization. If your looking for an PF compatible adventure for Evil PC... check this out...

Fire Mountain Games - Way of the Wicked adventure I believe they will be doing a set of modules that will take evil PC's from 1st level on up.


Liberty's Edge

Theos Imarion wrote:
How should I discourage pvp?

A number of ways, but I find the easiest to be this: Have the PCs start out friends. Close friends, for one reason or another, and (assming a culture that is either evil or at odds with the PCs) perhaps the only friends they've got. Even Evil characters have friends, people they trust and rely on, and who they will protect. Make the PCs that to each other. You can easily foster an 'us against the world' mentality this way, too, making the PCs even more awful to those they deal with outside the party.

No plan is perfect, but the friends plan has the advantage of feeding into the existing PCs/GM dynamic, and matching most groups of true monsters who work together in both reality and fiction.

Some advice....

  • To discourage story-hogging: talk to the party ahead of time about what kind of goals the campaign will have so that each player is invested in achieving those goals together.
  • To discourage in-fighting: tell the group not to do it. As the DM, just tell your players that you don't want them to kill each other. If the players are adamant they want to kill one another, then plan for it. Plan the campaign to have a final adventure where there can be only one and let it be known. This way, when it happens the players are prepared, and it becomes more a competing sport and less an out of control revenge drama.
  • As a first time gm - Prepare more content than you need. Players never seem to follow a direct route to a goal and often want to interact with places you don't initially anticipate them going. Also, the opposite can sometimes be true where you will have sessions where the PCs will complete any tasks and handle any problems faster than you anticipate so have some additional tasks, goals, or obstacles so play doesn't stop because you have nothing to go on.
  • On preparation - I said prepare extra, but don't prepare too many details. Obviously, you want good details for all the important encounters your party will have, but for those extra things sometimes just some quickly sketched notes will do. A few names and traits of notable PCs or notable location. I sometimes just write a few adjectives such as physical description, personality traits, and relationship/history notes and that provides a better character then a a whole NPC character sheet.
  • On missed content - You will design things your players will never see or care about when you first make it. Don't try to force them to interact with something just because you made it. Hold on to it and keep it as extra content you can use at some other time if you need it. I designed a 1st level cave encounter a party of mine completely skipped until they got lost later at 5th level. I needed something and dropped them in that cave. I upped the encounters and let them come out with some gear and a map of the area to get them back on track.
  • Have fun - It might seem intimidating at first, but being the GM should be fun for you and your friends. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback after a few sessions to see if your players have any ideas or stories they would like to pursue. As a general rule, if your games end with your players smiling and reminiscing about moments they had in game then you are doing something right.

Hope that helps, and welcome to the GM club.

thanks, if other ideas come up post, especially links to long guides.

Theos Imarion wrote:
How should I discourage pvp?

By creating a goal which no individual could reach. They won't kill each other if they all need each other.

Theos Imarion wrote:
How should I discourage pvp?

1) Just tell the players ahead of time OoC that PvP will be strongly discouraged... with extreme prejudice.

2) Three of the 4 ideas I gave above have the PC's working for someone else. In character that dude makes it clear that he will not tolerate their petty feuds and dislikes getting in the way of his goals. Until they think they can take on the boss, they can't take the risk of PvP.

3) The fourth idea I gave is to have the PC's be more commited to something else other than sniping at each other.

4) As DMW said put it back on the players. Thye have to come up with characters that can be friends and cooperate with each other. If they can't, { shrug } campaign over.

Use any of the above. Heck use all of them at once.

Scarab Sages

Think of the bad guys like the Legion of Doom from DC. They're all psychopaths who would betray each other in a second, but they need to work together to achieve some greater goal and/or protect themselves from the good guys, who are well organized and strong.

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