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Old 10-05-2019, 11:09 AM   #1
Anders
 
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Default Evil Player characters/PvP games

What are your thoughts on evil Player Characters and Player-versus-Player play?

Me, I don't allow either. Evil characters tend to very quickly derail the kind of campaigns I want to run. As for PvP - I allow minor conflicts and so on, but the problem is that they have a tendency to spiral out of control and, again, derail the campaign.
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

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Originally Posted by Anders View Post
What are your thoughts on evil Player Characters and Player-versus-Player play?

Me, I don't allow either. Evil characters tend to very quickly derail the kind of campaigns I want to run. As for PvP - I allow minor conflicts and so on, but the problem is that they have a tendency to spiral out of control and, again, derail the campaign.
I don't think these are equivalent.

I have run an entire campaign—it was Mage: The Ascension—where the PCs were in different factions. Three of them were Wu Lung; one was Wu-keng; one was Virtual Adept; and one was Akashic Brotherhood. They fell into opposed factions based on the Wu-keng/Wu Lung hostility. There were very few scenes where all of them were on camera together, a number where I was doing cross cutting, and occasional fights between the factions. It went fine and the players had a good time.

But I rarely do "good versus evil" because I don't really believe that the real world has an absolute moral frame, and I'm not usually interested in fictional settings that do. My conflicts are "this point of view against that point of view."

On the other hand, when I ran a campaign set in Middle-Earth, I did assume intrinsic good vs. intrinsic evil. But I also required the PCs to be on the side of good. Likewise when I did a Buffyverse campaign.
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Old 10-05-2019, 11:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

Yeah, but there are certain disadvantages that... take Sadism for instance. I have difficulty seeing someone who actively likes torturing others as a hero or even as a protagonist. People who advocate for genocide.
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Old 10-05-2019, 12:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

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Yeah, but there are certain disadvantages that... take Sadism for instance. I have difficulty seeing someone who actively likes torturing others as a hero or even as a protagonist. People who advocate for genocide.
Well, for example, say you're playing a campaign set in World War II. Let's stipulate that Roosevelt and Churchill were on the side of Good. They were allied with Stalin, who was responsible for mass murder on a scale substantially greater than Hitler's, who maintained a repressive regime with secret police and concentration camps and a totally controlled economy, and who had also previously allied with Hitler in a war of conquest against Poland. So is it not possible to have a Russian soldier, who is fighting for Stalin's monstrous regime, as a protagonist?
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

Possible, yes. But as an ardent supporter of Stalin's various genocides (without being deceived)? I have difficulty seeing that.
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

American children would play Cowboys vs Indians as a stock playtime affair for decades in the midst of the 20th Century. This essentially justified and reenacted in miniature the genocide by which white Americans had claimed their land.

To perhaps the surprise of an informed modern observer, the cowboys were marked as the good guys.
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Old 10-05-2019, 01:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

I've run a lot of gray campaigns where my group dive into the outright evil sometimes but usually for understandable reasons they've rarely become mustash twirling villains even when they had the ability.

The problem with evil or runing evil characters are in my point two-fold.

First it could make some players uncomfortable which is a bad thing, but with a group you've played with for a while most of them will know the limits or test the borders carefully.

Second and I think more importantly being evil when you have power is way to easy and boring, without at least basic morality its too easy to justify atrocities because the bad guys are even worse and take shortcuts the good guys don't take. It simply is bad for the story.

PvP as in working against each other can work in small matters but usually it is only interesting for short campaigns. PC's actually fighting each other in anything but the last scene or some form of unlethal competition is usually very unfun.
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

In one game, we had a Neutral Evil necromancer complete with skeletal undead bodyguard as a PC. He was clearly evil, or at least out for his own power, but he was also a team player so long as the party goals coincided or at the least didn't go against his own goals. The paladin and cleric kept their eyes on him, but couldn't move against him as a positive ping on Detect Evil was not grounds to arrest or attack. (Thankfully the paladin's player was not a "Lawful Stupid" "see evil, attack evil" type.)

As for PvP, it's occasionally a good change of pace. In my superhero game, when Malice (a psionic possessing entity) possessed a PC - Meatshield, the party brick - she did not immediately attack the PCs. (We had to write out the party sorcerer as otherwise we'd've had to hand her the Idiot Ball, which neither me as GM didn't want to impose.) Meat's player enjoyed playing the bad guy hiding among the good guys for a few sessions. Of course, after all that, we had a big PvP brawl planned, but a 6dx2 fatigue strike to the eye knocked him out....
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Old 10-05-2019, 03:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

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American children would play Cowboys vs Indians as a stock playtime affair for decades in the midst of the 20th Century. This essentially justified and reenacted in miniature the genocide by which white Americans had claimed their land.
That's a fair point. And it arises in other historical contexts too.

Take, for example, the Iliad. It's about a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon and its consequences. And what's the quarrel about? Achilles claimed a Trojan woman who was captured in a raid of some sort as his slave, and Agamemnon uses his authority as High King to take her away for himself. So the heroic Greeks are slaver owners and slave takers. And presumably worse things than weaving cloth and grinding grain are likely to happen to the slave.

It's also true that the Trojans had slaves. In fact everyone had slaves in the ancient world. By our standards slavery is unspeakably evil. So are you prepared to never run a campaign set in ancient times?

Do you want to portray a cleaned up historical past where nothing that offends our sensibilities ever happened? Or to find the past repugnant and not play any campaign set in it? Or do you want to portray the past as it was and ask your players to adopt its sensibilities for their characters? Or do you want some balance among those three?
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Old 10-05-2019, 04:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Evil Player characters/PvP games

The only hard-and-fast rules I have about that in my games are:

1) The "evil" character has to have a plausible reason to be working with the team. "Evil for the sake of evil" is just dumb.

2) In D&D, nobody plays Chaotic Evil, because if they're playing the alignment correctly, they're a bigger danger to the party than any monster I can throw at them, and if they're not, why take the alignment? Being eeee-villll isn't "kewl", and you don't get style points for strutting around proclaiming how edgy you are.

I discourage PvP in RPGs because these people are supposed to be able to rely on each other at least a little when the proverbial chips are down, and PvP rather undercuts that as a concept. If the players want PvP, there are other games for that - Car Wars, for example.
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