Your Morning Head: Role Playing Evil Characters, Part 2

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The blogger embraces a fan.

Last week writing in response to a recent Fear the Boot episode, I blogged about role playing evil characters.  This week in what can only be characterized as wild coincidence, The Podge Cast recorded episode 35, Evil Urges.  Guess what I’m blogging about today?

The guys brought their A-game for this episode.  From purely evil characters to the corruption of good characters, they tackled the question of running evil characters from several angles.  The Podge Casters expressed what we all know in our hearts is true: playing evil characters can be a whole helluva lot of fun.

The guys detail several instances in which they have had big fun playing evil characters.   They’ve played bad guys nestled in amongst the good guys and they’ve played bad guys trying to be good… or at least not so bad.  It is clear that the Podge dudes aren’t afraid to explore the dark side of alignments and have more than a passing notion on how to make it work.*

baby-devilDan, in FtB’s episode 140, maintained that evil is about power or greed.  Adam challenged that concept in TPC 35 arguing, “That’s like boiling down all of a good character’s motivations to the feel-good feeling.”

I didn’t raise this issue in my original entry, but FtB’s description of evil is a bit over simplified.  Greed is certainly an aspect common to evil, but greed is not the fuel to evil’s engine. Evil imposes its own will over others regardless of the costs to those affected.  This can be managed through manipulation of events or people.  It can also occur through more direct acts of overt power.

I am reminded of a character one of my players, Jamie, ran in Changeling: The Dreaming.  He played an Unseelie Sluagh who gained glamour by reading to sick kids at the children’s hospital and ripping the glamour from  their withering forms.  Not the act of a “good” character mind you, but his character – nestled amongst the otherwise moral party – did these things in secret.  Within the party he was a decidedly creepy character, but never worked against his brothers-in-arms.  Of course, had they learned of his dark secret…?

There were other ways to obtain glamour, sure.  But Jamie’s Sluagh sought an easier path, paying no mind to the hopes and aspirations of those from whom he stole.  Again, there’s an aspect of greed to that action – but more important is the disregard for the other.

asmodeusI’ve run a number of campaigns with evil characters.  Some featured players characters bent on global dominations.  Most of them though were guys just trying to carve out their place in a world they perceived as hostile and not worthy of any consideration other than their disdain.

The essence of good, I think is loving your neighbor.  The essence of evil, then, is loving yourself- inclusive of your ideas, plans, etc. – over any other.

Some will tell you that evil is the absence of good.  I disagree.  The absence of good is apathy.  Evil is far too complex to be limited by such simple definitions.

I don’t run evil games all the time or even most of the time.  They are fun, though, and they can sustain just as well as a game populated with “good” characters.  Anyone who says otherwise isn’t doing it right.

Like the guys of the Podge said, nobody is always evil all the time.  Except for Asmodeus, perhaps.  When he orders a bagel and schmear, he does it evilly.  But everybody else?  They have warm moments.

Can an evil person have friends, act in a tender fashion and be loyal to those close?  Absolutely.  I understand that Bear Swarm’s Rob has a lot of friends.**

Does eating a baby make you evil?  I’ll have to get back with you on that.

Blogger’s notes:
* Podge Cast host Joe Selby may be a Sith Lord – this is as yet unconfirmed.
** I kid because I love.



4 comments on “Your Morning Head: Role Playing Evil Characters, Part 2Add yours →

  1. Synthesising the FtB description of evil as “greed” and the ideas expressed here, evil = selfishness. Real life evil is born of selfishness. Problem is, we also appreciate some form of selfishness, so where is the line?

    In other terms, evil is using others as a means to your own ends. [Waves to Goatunit] 😉

  2. Spot on over the two articles. FTB closed off too many doors when they started the topic and thus there was never a real exploration of the possible ways to be evil.

    The key point for me is this.

    Evil characters are not ‘evil’ in everything they do, in fact I would say that in order to be an effective character they need a measure of humanity and normality.

    They drink coffee in the morning, get upset when their football team loses and take a long time in the shower on a cold day.

    Unless your playing some alien monstrous evil that can never relate to humanity, at the core your character is another person, they just have a different world view 😉

  3. I don’t want to sound mean, but comparing the episodes side by side it’s easy to see where the best part of Fear the Boot went.

    The Fear the Boot episode was like a substitute teacher working off of a bad lesson plan. The Podge Cast episode was like a master’s thesis.

    I really liked Joe’s take on being bad. He’d be fun to run in a campaign I think.

    Podgecast, keep it up!
    Fear the Boot, please try to become interesting again!

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