How would you feel about an evil character in a non evil game that does good / neutral things, but thinks they’re doing evil?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I just rewatched an Adventure Time episode where Finn tricked a gang of scamming kids into camping by making them think they were scamming nature, then later, they were doing schoolwork by thinking they were scamming it again. They are evil (or at least close to it neutral, as they were implied to donate stolen goods to charity, plus the worst they did was scam people out of their money), but they were tricked into doing good and neutral things while thinking they were doing bad things.

I kind of want to play something like this in Pathfinder, problem being that I’m on the Autism Spectrum (Asperger’s) and thus have no idea how others would feel about this.

Since I’d probably be playing an adult or teen character, like what is the norm for Pathfinder, I’d have to have a low Wis and no ranks in Sense Motive, to play a not wise character that gets bluffed a lot by the good party members, thus simulating the whole thinking they are doing evil when they are really doing good or at least neutral, but other than that, it’d be a normal character.

Anyways, let me know how you would feel about this. Also I guess you could give your opinions on the reverse; a good character tricked into doing evil because they think they are doing good.


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Nothing beyond the typical caveat for any other joke character (and make no mistake, this premise is a joke character) which is that it rarely takes a very long for the joke part to wear thin.

Other than that it's a typical Evil in Name Only character only instead of "does good things as part of the longest of long cons (the fruition of which is never seen in game)" you have "is too dumb to realize he's not doing bad stuff" and as much as I always roll my eyes when I see EINO characters, they do tend to play nice with the party which is my bare minimum threshold for acceptability. Just make sure everyone else is fine with having a clown in the party.


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Any character that doesn't hinder the party should be fine, regardless of its alignment. But whether or not it hinders the party depends a lot on the party and the campaign. If your party has a jerk player playing a paladin, then things could go bad really quick even when playing helpful evil.

My advice would be to run the concept by the group and see if anyone thinks it might be a problem. And if the group does think it could be a problem then just file the character away for a later campaign, and try again in the future. I have some character concepts I have been sitting on for years. Maybe some day I'll get to bring them to life.


I'd feel great about it! That's how evil characters are supposed to be played IMHO. Evil PCs have always been a part of the game and they can add a lot of texture to the experience when done properly.


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Sure, why not?

"I, GARLAND, WILL, uh, KNOCK YOU ALL DOWN!"


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If no one can tell if you are evil because everything you do is good, then what is the point of having an 'E' written on your sheet?

Personally, I don't think that anyone else at the table would know or care and that it won't really end up giving you much enjoyment either, but if it appeals to you I don't see the harm.


A good portion of why I do not like "evil campaigns" is that good and evil are asymmetrical in how they are treated by the game. After all, an evil character who avoids good as assiduously as good characters avoid evil comes across as an unpleasant psychopath when we want to allow for the possibility of an evil character to be perfectly charming, a pillar of the community, even perhaps renowned for their charity whose evil is fundamentally about "what they get up to in the basement".

Evil and Good are asymmetric in that good is treated as aspirational- you have to keep doing good acts and avoid doing any evil acts, whereas anybody can end up as capital E Evil with a few evil acts, no matter how they spend the rest of their time. So for me, "being evil" is more the point where you risk losing control of your character than a premise for a campaign.

I mean when we get to the point of justifying how our actions are in fact evil with stuff like "I rescued the child trapped under the burning cart because they will be more useful to my schemes indebted to me than as a charred corpse" rather than "their cries for help were displeasing, and I was in position to rectify the situation" because the latter is too close to selfless, we're running uncomfortably close to parody.


You could just play lawful evil, a character who knows they are evil but agree's with the goals of good but they are willing to do the things that the 'good' characters are not willing to do because it is 'necessary and it has to get done for the greater good'.

Like the agent from 'Serenity'. He knew he was evil. He believed what he did was for the betterment of all in the long run.

Moriarty: Look at you Sherlock. You on the side of the angels. Your boring!
Sherlock: Take a look again Moriarty. I am on the side of the angels but do not ever mistake me for one of them.


Reksew_Trebla wrote:
Anyways, let me know how you would feel about this.

It would be fine in a game for a short time or a small-role character. Like the others have said, it basically falls into the joke character area and it can get a bit stale (unless you're really creative and the situations your party find themselves in just naturally fuel that creativity). Unless the whole party is in on the premise, it makes a character seem stupid or unaware of the world around them (in which case, that's the character's real premise).

There's only so many times your character can drop poison into a lake or well and then... the next day it turns out the poison killed off a dangerous parasite or bacteria in the water supply before becoming inert. Or you unless the Black Plague and kill off 1/3rd of the population of the kingdom but then... wait... "we were overpopulated and in a depression and now the need for skilled workers is causing great advances in economic growth and lower and middle-class prosperity as they use the newfound leverage to get better rights and conditions!" Three cheers for Halvor the Wicked Destroyer!

Quote:
Also I guess you could give your opinions on the reverse; a good character tricked into doing evil because they think they are doing good.

Since good is the normal default, characters being tricked or unaware of the negative consequences of seemingly good actions (like killing a monster that is actually keeping worse monsters out of the area) is a pretty common thing and is usually being done by the GM in the game anyway, so it's usually by default acceptable. Only if you have another player with an agenda doing it... but then... the GM probably is aware of their alignment and goals and is allowing it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's my go-to for this- first posted this back in August of 2016...

Cole Deschain wrote:

I enjoy the odd bit of Evil with some humanity attached...

In a short campaign set up to let us blow off some steam, we had a Red Mantis Assassin on leave to look after his sister (who was, for the record, a Chaotic Good Oracle affiliated with Desna that the local authorities thought was insane).

The Red Mantis was a terrible, terrible guy in most respects- for example, he got tired of negotiating his sister's release from the asylum and simply murdered the people keeping her locked up, then framed a local pickpocket who went to the gallows for the crimes, all without telling his sister what he'd done- but his love for his sister and his desire to see her happy were very real (which is why he didn't tell her about massacring six unarmed, well-intentioned people to get her out).

Likewise, he was loyal to and protective of the other members of their little band- he would never betray any of them, and anyone trying to hurt them would have to do it over his dead body. Of course, anyone not in his little subgroup of valued friends got no such loyalty.

You can absolutely play an evil character who thinks they're doing the right thing... and in real life, there's plenty of debate to kick around.

But in Pathfinder, Evil is an objectively discernible quantity.

Cole Deschain wrote:
They can also be fun studies in character dynamics- Our group has included a Lawful Evil Red Mantis Assassin who took a sabbatical because his Chaotic Good Desna-worshipping Oracle sister was locked up in an asylum. He may have been evil, but he loved his sister, and he damn sure wasn't going to leave her locked up somewhere. With that said, he also never, ever told her exactly what he did to spring her, because he knew it would just upset her, and he didn't feel like having that argument. He was loyal (to his family, friends, and to the Red Mantis), brave, and capable. He also firmly believed that the ends justified the means, that threats and murder were a more efficient way to deal with recalcitrant sorts than gentle persuasion, and that mercy was abject stupidity. He was never going to betray the party, and he would have died in his sister's defense, but pretty much anyone else was fair game.


I'm playing that sort of character. Not exactly the joke character that needs to be tricked into doing good, but actually a rather good and decent person who is down on themselves about anything that is personally beneficial. They're someone whose moral ideal is the selfless impoverished monk in perpetual servitude to man, but instead he haggles with shop keepers and works hard for a few minor comforts; all this while gleefully telling people about how he's screwing over others by asking for a tip or paying himself a wage for book keeping.

So far, great success on player and DM reception.

If the player is a cannibalistic child murderer who needs to be tricked into killing monsters and eating hamburgers through the use of illusion spells, then I wouldn't expect players to be happy about babysitting the crazy character.


only if the people he helped come by to thank him later on.

"...curses, foiled again!.."


This does sound like a joke character. And it would probably work best as such. However, if that isn't what you want, there is some potential to be deeper.

Said Evil PC could be a member of an Evil organization or worship an Evil God, and in an attempt at sowing the seeds for a later redemption, another PC or NPC they are close to has purposely deceived the Evil character into believing they are furthering malicious ends by helping the party. This would be an ongoing deception to make the Evil character believe their organization/patron benefits from the party's actions. For example, a party member could tell the Evil PC that a cult of the Demon Lord known to be a rival to their own Demon Lord patron has set fire to a building, and that helping to put it out would thwart the rival's plan and any innocents saved denies the rival Demon Lord sacrifices. This could be used as a way of doing a "slow burn" redemption arc with the Evil Character having a gradually unfolding epiphany that they are much better off now than before and it is because of the Good they did. If one of my players had their heart set on doing this kind of character in a serious campaign, that's how I would handle it.

But it really would work WAY better as a joke character.


MidsouthGuy wrote:

This does sound like a joke character. And it would probably work best as such. However, if that isn't what you want, there is some potential to be deeper.

Said Evil PC could be a member of an Evil organization or worship an Evil God, and in an attempt at sowing the seeds for a later redemption, another PC or NPC they are close to has purposely deceived the Evil character into believing they are furthering malicious ends by helping the party. This would be an ongoing deception to make the Evil character believe their organization/patron benefits from the party's actions. For example, a party member could tell the Evil PC that a cult of the Demon Lord known to be a rival to their own Demon Lord patron has set fire to a building, and that helping to put it out would thwart the rival's plan and any innocents saved denies the rival Demon Lord sacrifices. This could be used as a way of doing a "slow burn" redemption arc with the Evil Character having a gradually unfolding epiphany that they are much better off now than before and it is because of the Good they did. If one of my players had their heart set on doing this kind of character in a serious campaign, that's how I would handle it.

But it really would work WAY better as a joke character.

I’m weird. The thing is, I often get my characters reshaped by the game they’re played in.

For instance, I once played my weak attempt at making Batman when I was new to the game. But it quickly devolved into its own thing based off of the events of the game. My character went from a campy Adam West Batman with the constant smoke pellet tactic of Batman, to “my best friend just died because I failed a save to a fear effect. I’m switching to true N because my character is shutting down as a defense mechanism.” Like literally, it was a NG cheerful Batman type character, that ended up stealing from a shop because she (I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female) no longer cared. But as she journeyed with the party, she became more and more cheerful, until she finally earned back that NG alignment, and planned on paying the shopkeeper back.

None of that was in the original plans, but the character got reshaped by the game.

So while I do plan on a serious route with this character, it could devolve into just a joke character if that is how the game turns out.


Reksew_Trebla wrote:
(I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female)

?


blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
(I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female)
?

Seems to mean the character was based on Batman, but with changes to make it different, like being female.

Personally, I have a character that's a bit of a Zorro type, except being female, and using dual swords.


Melkiador wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
(I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female)
?

Seems to mean the character was based on Batman, but with changes to make it different, like being female.

Personally, I have a character that's a bit of a Zorro type, except being female, and using dual swords.

Yeah, that’s what I meant.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Melkiador wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
(I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female)
?

Seems to mean the character was based on Batman, but with changes to make it different, like being female.

Personally, I have a character that's a bit of a Zorro type, except being female, and using dual swords.

Are you perhaps familiar with this old TV show? It could have provided some inspiration for such a character.


David knott 242 wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
(I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female)
?

Seems to mean the character was based on Batman, but with changes to make it different, like being female.

Personally, I have a character that's a bit of a Zorro type, except being female, and using dual swords.

Are you perhaps familiar with this old TV show? It could have provided some inspiration for such a character.

No, but I should maybe check out that show. The character actually came from a dream and a resulting sketch back in the 90s. It was probably inspired by the Zorro series that aired in the 90s, but dreams are weird and who can be sure where stuff comes from.

Oh. I just remembered that it also had inspiration from the Phantom comic strip. Though, I liked the look of Zorro a lot better than the Phantom.


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Reksew_Trebla wrote:
I’m weird. The thing is, I often get my characters reshaped by the game they’re played in.... None of that was in the original plans, but the character got reshaped by the game.

That's not weird. That's perfectly normal, and it is good.


Reksew_Trebla wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
(I did say it was a weak attempt, hence being female)
?

Seems to mean the character was based on Batman, but with changes to make it different, like being female.

Personally, I have a character that's a bit of a Zorro type, except being female, and using dual swords.

Yeah, that’s what I meant.

Ah, got it.

Sounds like you're doing it right to me. A campaign-based RPG without character development is like a fireball without bat guano. It might work, but it just won't smell right.


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Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Reksew_Trebla wrote:
I’m weird. The thing is, I often get my characters reshaped by the game they’re played in.... None of that was in the original plans, but the character got reshaped by the game.
That's not weird. That's perfectly normal, and it is good.

Seconded. No character concept of mine ever survived contact with actual play.

The Exchange

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then there's always the option of looking at things thru "evil glasses", seeing the "real evil" in many "good" actions...

The Real Evil punishment..

Your Approval Fills Me With Shame Trope.

Just be sure to talk your character over with the other PLAYERS (not the characters), so they can get in on the "joke" too. They can even use it in their own character development

Other players assisting your PC development..

This way you are playing WITH the other players, rather than AGAINST them...

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