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Sir Bayard
January 18th, 2007, 23:55
Well, I'm going to start DMing a group soon, and the player's decided they wanted to try being evil characters for a change of pace. Some of the player's are very experienced, so I trust them to be able to handle it without going overboard, but some other's are a little new to the game.

I was wondering if anyone else out there has run an evil campaign before and might have some pointers on helping keep the group together a little without mass executions over treasure or boredom.

If they all kill each other, we decided we'd just go back to a good campaign afterwards, but after investing a lot of time into a storyline, I'd like to see it not fail after 2-3 sessions.

Thanks in advance if anyone has some tips.

Note: I understand Chaotic Evil will most likely result in the above scenario, but there are some neutral evil working with chaotic neutral characters working pretty much towards some evil ends, and the question is more how to get those kinds to work together a bit and not succumb to self-serving intrests completely. I know it's a challenge, but that's why I'm asking for help. :o

devinnight
January 18th, 2007, 23:59
Wow, what a tough scenario, at least it would be for me, I have trouble thinking along evil lines.

However one thought did occur, if there was a higher being that was controlling them through fear of a real hell and suffering should they fail to help each other succeed that might be enough. Evil doesn't always have to be self serving above all else.. or maybe it does. In this case self serving may be surviving long enough to serve the master, and surviving means sticking to a team plan.

Good luck.

-D

MaineCoon
January 19th, 2007, 01:18
Being evil doesn't mean they're homocidal maniacs. Only Chaotic Evil characters are truly prone to randomly killing. Evil is more about morals and ethics rather than laws. It doesn't necessarily have to be "blatantly" evil either.

Evil characters can stick together while it serves their purpose. They may use each other as pawns, but they may also form bonds and levels of trust. Their motives in the end, however, are at odds with society. Despite that, it
s not hard to twist "Good" adventures into "Evil" adventures, or let the players do it themselves. Evil characters will try to turn situations to personal benefit, rather than "doing what is right." Sometimes, they will 'do what is right', if they can find a way to profit from it - rescue the princess, but instead of bringing her back to the king for a reward, ransom her back for much more, or take her to a nearby kingdom. The reward must be worth the effort. Evil characters aren't necessarily lazy, but that doesn't mean they'll pass up opportunities that they don't see as useful.

Evil is not necessarily stupid. They will not wantonly break laws or do things that announce that they are evil.

Evil characters' motives may be personal, or they may be grander; they may server a master, in which case their decisions are based on carrying out the desires of their master.

Have you ever played Paranoia? One could say that every Paranoia character is inherently evil, even if just by necessity rather than by nature.

Above all, make sure that they get punished for their actions; this serves two purposes. First and foremost, it forces them to be crafty and blend in. Second, it makes them judge risk vs reward more carefully; not only do they have the risk of the immediate adventure, but potential side effects for angering the wrong people.

Sir Bayard
January 19th, 2007, 01:58
Aye, thus are exactly the viewpoints that I have on evil, MaineCoon. And those are the feelings of at least one of my players as well. I'm hoping that the other, newer players can understand that as well.

I've never played Paranoia, or heard of it, sadly. Wish I had so I'd understand the reference.

I'm going to keep all these suggestions in mind, I think that could prove rather invaluable. Thanks for the tips, and if anyone else has any ideas I'm still open to suggestion!

Tailz Silver Paws
January 19th, 2007, 02:42
All you have to do is switch the tables, instead of the players being the heros and saving the wench from the evil dragon, the players are now the evil doers who have captured the wench and are holder her ransom - their opponants will be "heros" trying to save the wench.

Think along those lines. Think up a plot - just insert the characters as the bad guys.

Instead of protecting the bank, the players are the bank robbers! :rv:

Sir Bayard
January 19th, 2007, 03:14
Yeah, the question just becomes how do the bank robbers not get back to their hideout and then klill each other for all the loot? lol My wife is a vicious person who wants to be an assassin and it's becoming difficult to explain to her she doesn't need to kill everyone in the universe or she'll end up dead herself from making too many enemies.

drlunsford
January 19th, 2007, 03:19
Hi, all...new to the boards (and the program).

A couple of thoughts:
It's human nature (or whatever is passing for human in your game) to do what's in one's own best interest. If you want the group to work together, despite the inevitably chaotic makeup of the group, then find a way to make it in their best interest to do so. For instance, the most unruly, chaotic-evil character knows to respect greater strength/power, and will not compromise the party's goals (or individuals) if that greater strength/power threatens to thoroughly trash them if they misbehave. Of course, it's better to work with a character than against him. For example, the only time I ever played an Evil™ character, a rogue, was entirely by accident (he picked up something he shouldn't have...long story). In order for him to remain with the predominately Good™ group, I decided he needed them to help him gain his wealth (I planned to start skimming a bit from the loot).

Another thought you might consider is from a story that I'd heard before. A group decided to play an Evil™ game, just for a change of pace. They raped, looted and pillaged like a good Evil™ group is expected to. Then when they went back to their normal campaign, their good characters had to chase down the very group they had just played, following the trail of rapes, lootings and pillagings that they had themselves (sort of) perpetrated.

Griogre
January 19th, 2007, 07:32
Sir Baylard, I have run evil campaigns before, I don't do so anymore because I find them boring as a DM. As I am not the type of DM who railroads players down plot paths, I tend to spend a fair amount of time being bored while the characters ensure their eventual doom.

You have put your finger on the issue already with evil characters even if they are not all bloodthirsty psychopaths there is a tendency to: 1) Kill each other off - because well it can be *so* tempting and easy to just kill that other character and loot his/her stuff - and after all, *I* am evil. 2) Not be very bright and make enemies who will kill them off just because they are evil - and have proved conclusively they need to be killed, negated or imprisoned.

The above problems mean that instead of following your plot line there is a tendency for the characters to self immolate. This is even more likely if some of the players are not as mature or experienced.

My advice to make the campaign successful is to run a very tight plot with the characters under the thumb of something powerful and lawful evil. Make it clear that this entity will simply kill the PCs if they act stupid and ruin the entity’s plans which require, more or less, each of the character types though not necessarily that specific character. Bear in mind the entity does not have to be an NPC it could be a church, government, greater devil or some other organization.

I ran a very successful long term Paranoia campaign because I managed to tone down some of sheer randomness of the players killing each other by having “The Computer” frown on the loss of it’s valuable computer property – the troubleshooters themselves – there still was no tolerance for commie or mutant traitors but the PCs had to make a decent case they were actually killing one or they would be executed themselves.

You can do this in your evil campaign also, just have the “boss” kill characters who kill other characters unless they’ve got a good story how it helped the “boss”. You probably won’t stop the characters from killing each other but you will stop the random, spur of the moment killings which are most likely to derail the campaign. I mean the characters are evil, and it’s not an occasional well planned murder that is going cause trouble but the thoughtless random killings.

Edit: Oops, misread the above and now I see you never played Paranoia - still you should still be able to get the point I was trying to make. Note that in Paranoia every last troubleshooter (PC) *is* a traitor.

Oberoten
January 19th, 2007, 08:18
* Truly Evil people are seldom aknowledgeing that they are even to themselves. There is always justifications and always reasons no matter how thin they might seem to someone else.

* Even monsters can love just look at Bonnie & Clyde, Adolf Hitler & Eva Braun. And most certainly, even monsters can keep friends that are useful and even show kindness and caring to those around them. I think that perhaps Evil can be more defined as caring only for yourself and those closest to yourself while the rest of the world be damned.

That evil always turns on itself is a convenient cliche in fantasy books. But in real life, evil seems to prosper by being the easier path. People choose it not because that it is a quick path to power, but because it is less of a hassle. Easier to close your eyes when they come for your neighbours in the middle of the night than get involved and be taken too.

A few people will take a corrupt administration etc as a career oportunity, but they would not be so reviled and/or reknowned if they were truly common.

Just my $ 0.25

Rammstein
January 19th, 2007, 08:49
I don't think the setting for evil party should be that different from a good one. No good person spends all his time donating to charities and evil characters do not have to spend every minute they can spare murdering innocent passers-by. The motives of the characters are often different, but not necessarily. Both the good and the bad try to survive. Both have somehow reached the age they start adventuring so they are probably not going to get killed because of thier malice right the first moment they set off for a campaign (if the players aren't extremely childish). Short-sightedenss is not a necessary condition for being considered as evil by the general moral code ;)

I'd say that concentrating in the character backgrouds might be more essential in an evil-aligned campaign, so put some pressure on your players to do their part.

Sir Bayard
January 19th, 2007, 17:24
Some very nice points and tips for running the campaign, thank you. I myself have played some evil characters before, and never went on a murdering rampage (rampge being the key word), and I worked with people to further my own ends.

I'm hoping the players learned a small little lesson recently. We were doing a practice run just so they could get familiar with Fantasy Grounds, and decided to mess with the local weaponsmith, who ended up throwing them out of his store. So, they decided to get revenge by attacking him, and were summarily slaughtered in the process. Thankfully, it was only a practice run so they could learn FG features and we could test out our Ventrilo setup (they claim they were just doing it for fun since it wasn't the real campaign, and won't do anything that stupid in the real campaign.) I've been jotting down a lot of the ideas and think I know of a few ways to implement them into the campaign pretty easily.

Thank you for all your advice. It's all quite excellent.

MaineCoon
January 19th, 2007, 19:31
That evil always turns on itself is a convenient cliche in fantasy books. But in real life, evil seems to prosper by being the easier path. People choose it not because that it is a quick path to power, but because it is less of a hassle. Easier to close your eyes when they come for your neighbours in the middle of the night than get involved and be taken too.


Most definitely the easier path; evil rewards loyalty with power. Even evil characters realize that they can't survive entirely on their own, and allies are quite useful, even if they are not your travelling companions. Only some evil characters are likely to want to 'off their superior' for quick promotion, but in a properly run organization, doing so wouldn't get you the promotion, it would probably get you killed as a traitor. Even so, 'promotion' may mean 'more work' which is not necessarily a desirable thing. Each type of personality will have different desires and ambitions to different extremes.

If Evil were entirely self destructive, the Nazi party, the mafias and other organized crime, etc, would never function successfully. Loyalty through fear, love/adoration, or a maximum benefit/effort ratio, whichever works.

There is another kind of 'Evil', one that is worse than obvious Evil. It is those woh do not think their actions are evil. They may be misguided, misled, mentally insane, or just blind. Look at the Nazi party during pre- and mid-WW2. Many of them did not know about the Jewish slaughter (after it started). To some, the Nazi party was "The future of Germany". Restoring Germany and getting back for 20 years of pain inflicted in the form of economic sanctions and huge debt load. A generation who had had no part in WW1, grew up into paying off these debts and living under repression (Weimar Republic), and had innate resentment towards the rest of Europe. To others, it was just 'the popular political party'. When the war started (in Europe; before the US got involved), young men of German descent from all over the world, even the US, went to Germany to fight "For the Fatherland" (Hitler was one of the few to refer to it as "The Motherland"). Hitler got people to believe in a cause. He had immense public support... but that doesn't make those who supported him evil... I don't even think it makes them complicit to evil (they had no way of knowing, wouldnt have imagined).

Had Hitler not ordered the slaughtering of millions of Jewish people, would he be looked at as a monster today? To him, it was "solving a problem"; he believed deeply that the Jewish people were the cause of all of Germany's, and Europe's, problems. His reasoning does not excuse his actions, nor make him any less evil or a monster... it just makes it all the more scarier, that he could reach a level of power and popular support.

The Nazi party as a whole perpetrated evil. Many individual members did not have 'evil' tendencies; the WW2 nazi party was much more of a nationalist organization than it was racist(although the current Nazi party is a racist, supremist organization). Yet it is something we revile today.

Your statement, and my reply, brings up another question: Is knowledgeable indifference evil?

Whew, got long winded, sorry about that.

Stuart
January 19th, 2007, 20:03
Is knowledgeable indifference evil?

One can always count on the FG boards for lively debate about intellectual property and so forth, now moral and ethical philosophy.:)

Assuming that we agree (and the converse, "Consequentialist" view is well supported viz a vis Bentham & Mill) that there are some things that one ought to do and some things that one ought not to do irrespective of what the probable results are then the question is really problematic.

Kant proposed that basically, one should only do what one would allow/expect others to do, I think (and my immediate recall is hazy) that this idea is known as Kant's Categorical Imperative - someone will correct me if I am wrong.

Thus knowledgeable indifference would be wrong but is it "evil" ? If an evil person is someone who is an agent or a willing spectator of suffering (that presumably they enjoy and take pleasure from), then yes. Knowledgeable indifference, I would consider to be evil. Assuming the knowledge was comprehensive.

Yes, the latter is a bit of a cop out, but I'm sure this is getting boring - sorry. Thanks MaineCoon for livening up a slow start to Friday night !

Craw
January 19th, 2007, 20:06
My group tried an evil campaign and it worked fairly well. Just think corporate evil, the best lawful evil example. Tobacco companies have been systematically increasing the nicotine in their cigarettes over the last decade in order to make them more addictive. Evil in the extreme, but the mid-level execs aren't engaged in a constant bloodbath. A party who is willing to plant forged documents and falsely accuse a nearby landholder of treason in order to take his land is certainly evil, but that doesn't mean he is going to backstab his comrades. Put the "evil" motivation in the context of the party as a whole, not the individual characters. This even works for chaotic characters. Gangs are perfect examples. Certainly evil. Certainly chaotic. But there is usually a lot of loyalty to the gang itself, sometimes fanatic loyalty.

The game mechanic supports an evil party pretty well, too. Aside from just killing (which is the basis for a lot of "good" parties -- the victims are just cast as evil monsters), the tools of evil are already available: bribery, forgery, intimidation, bluffing, conning, lying, blackmail, ransom, pickpocketing, etc. "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap" is the perfect basis for a campaign. Any sizeable town has an underworld. In the game I ran, the party (starting at 1st level) was trying to make a name for itself on the dockside. I had them collecting "protection," bribing the watch (diplomacy is a useful skill to get the size of the bribes down), and stealing from the local temple of Lathander. Come to think of it, it's actually easier to write for the evil characters. It's a whole lot easier to justify violence and theft.

Sir Bayard
January 19th, 2007, 23:21
I, personally, have always enjoyed the subtle, very intelligent kind of evil. Like, evil wizards. Now that I think about it, I think all of my evil characters actually WERE wizards, and I don't play the wizard class that often.

To the other discussion though, I do agree that knowledgeable indifference is just as evil therin as the act itself. I wish I could go more in depth philosophically, but I'm having a brain fart and ti just doesn't want to work for me today. Too much moving at work. So, I'll leave it at that and read mroe interesting replies on the now aparent morals of what constitutes evil as well as which kinds of evil are worse.

After all, it all helps me in the end, and maybe helps some other DM's playing the "evil" monsters and NPC's...

Sigurd
February 11th, 2007, 14:52
I can reccomend a pdf download on the subject. Darkdwellers has some really useful rules, spells and a bunch of prestige classes.

http://www.yourgamesnow.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1164&zenid=4fe5ce3ebb1abf7b138a7fbcc25768a3

I'm not associated with the book but I did write a review here:

http://www.yourgamesnow.com/index.php?main_page=product_reviews_info&products_id=1164&reviews_id=4

9.99 but well worth it.

Oberoten
February 12th, 2007, 06:23
The really fun evil is usually not the ones that are very powerful... But the one that is clever... very very clever. Like the old man living next to the ruins in a comfy little cottage. And who goes in to collect a few days after he has heard/seen nothing of the adventuring party that went there. To re-animate whatever they killed, to animate the adventurers and take their stuff etc.

Did this in a D&D game once and the players just got stunned when they finally figured out that the old friendly guy in the hermitage that sold them the healing potions actually put poison in one out of five. And that even WORSE... "WHY have we been dragging ourselves into the ruins to find the necromancer like this?" "... because rumors are very useful tools..."

Once they found him out he was actually not really a tough fight, just very skilled at animating the dead. No dead in his COMFY cottage, who would want to live in the cold drafty ruins and possibly get killed by a conan-wannabe?

Tokuriku
February 12th, 2007, 09:16
I have 3 cents on the subject and here they are:

First let me define "Evil" as per the first edition of D&D:
Evil defines someone that believes that the strong should survive and thrive as opposed to "Good" wich tend to think that you should help and defend the weak.
Taking that view into account can change a lot of things.
I'll let you think about those but if you want my ideas on it, just ask ;)
I played Evil characters before without even once having done an "evil" act per say.

Second, I tend to believe that "evil" people or groups do not think of themselves as evil.
And even if they do, they still have their "group".
Those in the group are tought of as different from the rest.
Take the Nazi for exemple, they had rules and respect but only for them, not for outsiders.
Thus if your players consider that, those outside of the group will be fair bait but not those inside the group.

Third, Hierarchy.
Even chaotic evil are able to respect hierarchy and evil characters are more suited for it IMO.
Put a hierarchy in the group.
Make a player the boss and establish from the start that it will not change and that all respect him.
Whatever works for you.

Well take what you feel is good and leave the rest but I'd like some feedback on these toughts :)

JMOxx75
April 15th, 2007, 20:18
After reading this thread I was surprised to see that many philisophical aspects emerged and definitions of evil followed. The examples of the Nazi party however were usefull in that "evil" will have different meanings in different cultures. In D&D there are so many cultures that the definition of evil will always be different.

Saying that, my experience with running campaigns with good or evil characters I felt was always disturbed by Alignment. Many players would say things like "you're Lawful Good your character wouldn't do that". So I tried a new approach.

My solution was to eliminate Alignment completely. All spells or abilities that detected alignment or changed it ect... didn't exist anymore. Why? I decided that evil would be interpreted in the game by NPCs and the cultures they come from.

A surprising thing happened though. Some of my players were more ambitious and greedy than the others. Their characters reflected what they wanted to bring to the story. Some times they would save people and some times they wouldn't. It really depended on the situation and if they thought the NPC's actions were good or evil. Since the players also had different opinions on what was evil and what wasn't they didn't always agree.

Essentially I was able to play adventures that were created by the single selfish decision of one of the PC's. For instance one of the PC's wandered off from the group and sought out the council of a bandit leader who was recently apprehended by the town guard. The bandit leader supposedly had information to the where abouts of a powerful magic weapon that was said to be lost (random bit of information from him snooping about). The PC negotiated with the bandit for the information and then sold it to the group. He bended the truth however because he wants the treasure at the end of the tale essentially.

The rest of the PC's buy his story of an ex soldier that was framed because of his political beliefs and cast as a bandit. They free him and immediately set out to escort him to a friendly city. This is where the NPC bandit explains to the PC group that he has information of a plot that was set underway by the Magistrate of the town where he was arrested to use a powerful artifact to conquer the surrounding towns and announce himself emporer (now in a seperate city no investigation can be done).

This tale of wo convinces the other PC's that they must act to stop this and so they all venture off to get this artifact. The main battle was with a medusa who swore to protect this artifact from falling into the hands of humans because it was specifically designed to kill orcs (not evil but just orcs). Obivously there is a powerful orc somewhere that convinced this medusa to guard it for him.

The bandit just wants it so he can sell it. The greedy PC that rescued the bandit just wants it for himself (he is unaware of what its true power is) and the rest of the PC's just want to stop the Magistrate from getting his hands on it.

Who is to say what is evil and what isn't in this example?

The battle between the players after killing the medusa was the single funnest moment I have as a DM. The greedy PC ambushed the rest of the party along with the bandit. Not only did they all kill each other but in the final round of combat the greedy pc landed a killing blow on the last pc in the party. The bandit was dead by this time. The last pc however had a pet that still had an attack that round. Just so happens this pet was a bird of some sorts from one of the White Wolf monster books that if it rolled a natural 20 on an attack and scored a crit it would decapitate the target with its wings. Well that very thing happened!

As the players looked on stunned I laughed until i cried lol.

The point of this tale is if the players decide to do evil things or if they decide to do good things its the DM's responsibility to provide a story. If they bite and follow it great, if they ignore it provide another story. The story must be robust enough to be approached from different angles other than good or evil.

This adventure wasn't planned out for a specific group of good or evil characters. It was laid out in facts. The bandit was a bandit but his information of the artifact was real. He wanted it for profit but couldn't get it himself. When a PC arrived in awe of such a magical item the bandit used his ambition for it to recruit him to rescue him and eventually help him retrieve the item. The PC in turn used his ambition and lust for powerful magics to compel his party to believe a false tale in order to recruit their services. Thinking that they would be heroes the other PC's decided to stop a tyrant. So you see they all did what their own motives lead them to.

kimba
April 18th, 2007, 01:41
NO matter how you slice it.
good = the Means justifies the end
evil = the end justifies teh Means

to elaborate - I too think that no thinks of themselves and Evil. Those that do are simply nuts.

an evil character sets a goal - A campaign I once participated in the goal was to become a God. we were a party of 7 or 8 all evil. we had a common goal we worked with one another untill it was time not to work with one another. We killed many things that simply stood in the way. we killed Bad creatures because they needed killing - we killed good creatures because the stood in our way. We took what we wanted when we could. We paid for things when we could not take them. In the end it took us all to defeat the God, then it was time to kill the rest because they stood in my way. Oddly enough everyone had that same thought. Evil does not share very well.

on the contrary I have played several good characters that pretty much behaved the same way but with guidlines. You dont just kill someone if they are in your way. Or are stupid, Ok maybe if they are stupid. if someone needs help you feel obligated to help. Not just ignore them. Good generally want to stop innocents from being killed. Even if those innocents that are supposed to be from an Evil race.
the point is a good character will go out of his (or her) way to do the moraly right thing most of the time. You cannot kill evil in a way that does not seperate you from it. while the evil person just simply does not care as long as he gets what he wants.

I think I am starting to ramble here so I will stop..
LOL.

Oberoten
April 18th, 2007, 08:02
I tend to disagree.

Good = What benefits the mostpeople.
Evil = Selfish.

It is entirely possible to strive for godhood and think that the ends justify the means because the alternatives would be too horrible to contemplate.

The High Druid
April 18th, 2007, 11:36
Good = What benefits the mostpeople.
Evil = Selfish.

Okay, there's the obvious classic example against that. What happens if you have to kill one innocent child to save one hundred other people from harm? Or, to make it even more ambiguous, make it just let the child die rather than kill him or her yourself.

Oberoten
April 18th, 2007, 12:14
So basically you are arguing that to let one die to save millions would be evil? AKA the old "Would you go back in time and shoot Hitler while he was still a child?" or to make it more pressing "let him die when you could have saved him".

Valarian
April 18th, 2007, 12:21
From a moral and philosophical standpoint, this would still be an evil act. However, in doing this evil act, you may prevent a greater evil in the future. You still commit evil, to prevent a greater evil.

Beware this path, my Padawan ... the Dark Side to it leads.

Oberoten
April 18th, 2007, 12:26
One might argue that NOT acting here would be the same thing... only a million or more times. *grins* Sorry I just love this kind of discussions.

Valarian
April 18th, 2007, 12:55
Before the first evil act has been performed, there can't ethically be an argument for acting against the person. Once this act has been performed, then the evil act to stop them can be justified through the defence of others. The BBC has a good ethics section, which discusses the ethics of warfare: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/ethics/war/

The High Druid
April 18th, 2007, 13:45
Well personally I don't believe in moral absolutes. However in the example above I don't see any way that killing the child or letting it die could be considered good, even if it does prevent a larger harm occuring. Not saying here that it's necessarily evil in this example either, just using it to demonstarte that "Good = What benefits the most people" is flawed.

Edit: Just to add, I think the reason a child is usually used in this example is that it's supposed to be an innocent. Someone who can't comprehend the situation, and therefore can't make the decision to sacrifice themselves to by-pass the moral dilema.

kimba
April 18th, 2007, 16:17
From a moral and philosophical standpoint, this would still be an evil act. However, in doing this evil act, you may prevent a greater evil in the future. You still commit evil, to prevent a greater evil.

Beware this path, my Padawan ... the Dark Side to it leads.

in this example the correct action would not be "kill the child, or let the child die. the End does not justify the means. both letting the child go and killing the child are evil acts.
the Good action, the harder path would be to stay and teach the child a strong moral value and remove whatever deficiency that caused the child to become the evil thing it became.
thus the Means justifies the end.:p

Griogre
April 18th, 2007, 18:48
I definitely agree with kimba that an effort to redeem the child for good is the correct "good" action.

Philosophically, I believe "good" in many campaigns can be defined around 1) Is it good to kill evil? 2) What, if any, restrictions are put on killing evil.

In the example above if the child was to kill 1 million people and they were all evil (not an unlikely in a fantasy campaign) would it be "good" to allow the child to live or try to turn him from its destiny?

kimba
April 18th, 2007, 19:40
I definitely agree with kimba that an effort to redeem the child for good is the correct "good" action.

Philosophically, I believe "good" in many campaigns can be defined around 1) Is it good to kill evil? 2) What, if any, restrictions are put on killing evil.

In the example above if the child was to kill 1 million people and they were all evil (not an unlikely in a fantasy campaign) would it be "good" to allow the child to live or try to turn him from its destiny?

in a campaign setting - I say yes, it is Goods job to kill evil. However. the individuals definition of Evil is what counts here. A paladin is the epitome of Good. But that same paladin would not stop and think twice about destroying a complete tribe of evil being down to the last child. for instance a Rakshasa is considered always Lawful Evil. So any good character should be able to kill one on site. no questions asked. however in todays society even if a man kills a police office with 100 witnesses- our "good" society insists that that man be given a fair trial, and in more cases than not that person may go free (depending on how much money they have I guess.) So in a role playing game we need to separate modern ethics from role play ethics.

in the above Rakshasa example. A paladin finds a family of a Rakshasa. this family consists of a Father Uncle Aunt, and three children, the youngest a boy who is destined to be a great factor somehow. Lets say the boy is questioning his beliefs and the beliefs of his cruel father and family. Something deep in side him longs for love or a friend he can count on. This boy has two destinies. First to grow up and create a large foundation of the Evil Rakshasa which eventually becomes a powerful nation, spreading Evil everywhere. and a second less likely path, that he sees cruelty for what it is and grows up to start a movement in the Rakshasa people and he changes them over time to be a great race of protectors for all the nations.
Now along comes a Paladin, interacts briefly with the father, long enough to determine his nature then proceeds on wiping out the entire family. Leaving them for dead. However the boy is wounded and at deaths door, but survives. Now all doubt about his families cruelty is gone. He understands it the cruelty is what made him stronger enough to live, He embraces the evil way of life. Always searching for revenge on the paladin and those like him.
But if the paladin never came? he had the chance to redeem and entire race.
which is more evil?

Here is my point. in game play the paladin takes the correct action. he destroys something he knows to be evil. But right now you are second guessing this, because of your Modern moral ethics. this is what I mean by separate the grey scale of the moral code of today with the black and white good vs. evil code of the game.
the Ranger will always hunt and destroy his favored enemy. the Paladin will always kill what he determines is evil.
it is up to the player and to some extent the Deity the player worships as to what their version of Good vs. Evil is. let the player decide and just have fun.

Valarian
April 18th, 2007, 20:39
The automatic action of the Paladin, I would put down to the Lawful side of the Lawful/Good nature. The Paladin is ordered and inflexible in his beliefs and evil is an affront to the "true" order of things. A Chaotic/Neutral Good character may have more pause for thought in their actions. In the D&D world, there is not only the struggle of Good vs Evil, there is also the struggle of Order (Law) vs Chaos.

Lysander
April 19th, 2007, 01:22
A couple of thoughs on the original aspect of this thread.

I've played in an evil campaign where all the characters were humanoids, level adjusted to be on par w/ each other (4th). We were like 'elite commandos'. The DM basically put a 'Geas/Quest' spell like effect on the group so that we were to always focus on the mission first, and not to kill another member of the team unless it could be realistically justified as helping to complete the mission. It was a frontier area, and our oponents were frontier kingdom soldiers, a Church of Pelor and its inhabitants, a counterpart hero group, and the occasional odd ruin and dungeon. It lasted about 10 sessions, we got to 6th/7th level, and were ultimately taken out by a Paladin and his ilk. It was fun, and a good break from our 'standard' campaigns.

It also depends on the PLAYERS! If you have knuckleheads, it'll go poorly. If you have a good, solid, mature group, It should have excellent potential.

I'd like to know how it goes. Perhaps post a journal for the rest of us to read and possibly learn from (like the test run you did) in case others wish to follow the 'Dark Side'

JMOxx75
April 19th, 2007, 02:23
Good and evil, right an wrong. Where do these come from? The sole motivation for living beings is to survive. Survival becomes easier with wealth and power. This structure benefits those with the ability to become wealthy and powerful. Once they get to the wealthy and powerful level their beliefs begin to be projected on their surrounding population.

Cultures and vast belief systems begin this way. The definition of what is good, evil, right or wrong depend upon those in power at the time. There are thousands of examples of norms in other countries today that would be considered evil in many of the industrialized countries. Even among allies this is so. The French have a unique view of right and wrong compared to the United States.

With vastly different cultural belief systems and religious belief systems the underlying motivations are still present; survival and wealth and power. Society curbs the actions of people in their pursuit of these goals which causes their actions to change but not their will to achieve these goals. For instance where in one country open killing and brute force may get you some where but in America we use the law to accomplish the same thing. Groups of like minded people make laws, ordinances etc... to dictate how others are to conduct themselves.

Then they hire police forces with the right to carry weapons to enforce these laws. We accept them as just and good because we are raised to believe so. But truly many of these systems are designed to keep people in power and prevent others from attaining it. In America we had to change our constitution to allow minority groups access to power by disallowing the government from discriminating against their rights.

So really it depends on which group you belong to and what that groups beliefs are that define good, evil, right and wrong. IMHO the alignment in the game is a crutch that defines for the player how his character should act. I say 'your character can act however you play him/her'.

With that said killing and fighting are side effects of the pressure that is created by the groups. Many people have killed in their life and as long as it is justified within their belief system then they cannot perceive their actions as evil. Also when examples with children are used many times people are raised to help innocents or other like minded people. This stems from humanities link to family. A human child takes a long time to raise before it can act on its own so that in and of itself influences how we form groups later in life. Taking a life or saving a life isn't good or evil, right or wrong, it's believing that the action taken or not taken will either be rewarded or punished based on the belief of the majority.

I guess what I am trying to say is IMHO angels and demons are good and evil and right and wrong have too many definitions. Mortal men act based on their motivation and the pressure of the society they live in.

Valarian
April 19th, 2007, 10:09
The rules of society have less to do with wealth and power and more to stop people killing each other. The basic rules of society (don't kill, don't steal, etc.) have been around since tribal and pre-agricultural cultures. These basic societal rules are formed to allow a set of individuals to live together in relative harmony. If the rules are breached, then societal discord arises. Different cultures can have different viewpoints on possessions and relationships in society. Humans are not naturally societal creatures, past the extended family grouping. Once past this threshold, society tends to fracture unless the rules of society followed.

A Lawful creature will know the rules of society. Lawful Good creatures will follow the rules for societies benefit. Lawful Neutral will follow the rules with their best interests in mind. Lawful Evil creatures will work the rules in their favour and to harm others in the society. A hierarchy based on relative strength and power will be common in a Lawful Evil society.

Neutral Creatures will follow the rules most of the time, but will not feel too bad bending them when required.

Chaotic creatures will ignore the rules of society. Chaotic Good creatures will not necessarily follow the rules, but will act for the good of individuals in society when encountered (but not necessarily good for society as a whole). Chaotic Neutral creatures will ignore the rules and look after number one (selfish nature), but won't work to actively harm others (only harm indirectly). Chaotic Evil creatures will ignore the rules of society and work things in their favour at the cost of all around them, plots and intrigue in a Chaotic Evil society will be commonplace.

kimba
April 19th, 2007, 17:16
The rules of society have less to do with wealth and power and more to stop people killing each other. The basic rules of society (don't kill, don't steal, etc.) have been around since tribal and pre-agricultural cultures. These basic societal rules are formed to allow a set of individuals to live together in relative harmony. If the rules are breached, then societal discord arises. Different cultures can have different viewpoints on possessions and relationships in society. Humans are not naturally societal creatures, past the extended family grouping. Once past this threshold, society tends to fracture unless the rules of society followed.

A Lawful creature will know the rules of society. Lawful Good creatures will follow the rules for societies benefit. Lawful Neutral will follow the rules with their best interests in mind. Lawful Evil creatures will work the rules in their favour and to harm others in the society. A hierarchy based on relative strength and power will be common in a Lawful Evil society.

Neutral Creatures will follow the rules most of the time, but will not feel too bad bending them when required.

Chaotic creatures will ignore the rules of society. Chaotic Good creatures will not necessarily follow the rules, but will act for the good of individuals in society when encountered (but not necessarily good for society as a whole). Chaotic Neutral creatures will ignore the rules and look after number one (selfish nature), but won't work to actively harm others (only harm indirectly). Chaotic Evil creatures will ignore the rules of society and work things in their favour at the cost of all around them, plots and intrigue in a Chaotic Evil society will be commonplace.


very well said. thank you

JMOxx75
April 19th, 2007, 19:01
The rules of society have less to do with wealth and power and more to stop people killing each other.


Humans are not naturally societal creatures, past the extended family grouping.


These two quotes IMHO are completely inaccurate. I can't really argue the points of good and evil if you believe these two statements.

Cheers

kimba
April 19th, 2007, 19:48
all human instincts and animal instinct are based on survival - fight or flight. Greed is man made. There is nothing to the human genome <sp?> that has anything to do with power or wealth. however those tow things are indeed a subclass of survival. the more wealth you have the easier, it seems, it is to live. We are not social creatures because we all wish to be the ruler of our own domains. king of our own destiny so to speak. you cannot have a social group consisting of multiple kings. We work together because we find it is easier to work together for a common goal. however once we get home we want our privacy, we let no one come into our homes and tell us how its going to be.
This has nothing to do with Good & Evil on the outside, but it does validate the statements by Valarian.
Without our moral code (bible) we would be killing each other constantly because we would be doing whatever we want. this is that our moral code teaches us. look at the 10 commandments - there are two that have anything to do with wealth. # 7 don't steal, and #10 don't covet your neighbors possessions. And these don't really speak to wealth and power other than it is wrong to take and or be jealous of someone else and what they have achieved or acquired.

Griogre
April 19th, 2007, 23:26
I very much agree with Valarian on this. Advanced Societies also have another effect - they allow a greater number of beings to survive in the same area and more effectively utilize the resources around them through specialization of work effort. Higher population for a society is a competitive advantage when survival largely depends on muscle powered tools/weapons. Naturally, once you add animal power and magic/technology into the mix there is less advantage to having a large population.

kimba you did forget one very basic instinct for survival, to procreate successfully which also requires relatively safe conditions that allow children to be able to survive up to adulthood.

kimba
April 20th, 2007, 06:05
kimba you did forget one very basic instinct for survival, to procreate successfully which also requires relatively safe conditions that allow children to be able to survive up to adulthood.


right you are - that is the most basic instinct of all. and unfortunatly a large source for evil in the world. (but that part is not nessessarily procreation and reproduction) and while humans are one of the few races that make it also recreation... that is another story.
I think the human race is remarkable - and this is one of the reasons - we are at heart anti social, but we think past that to form well (mostly) working societies. we are teh ONLY animal on this planet that CAN do that. but again that is for another topic.

Back to the original question - I think you have to seperate todays moral issues for a much more black and white ruleset. let the characters play how they will. and if they say I am lawful neutral but act chaotic good. require them to change and take whatever repricussions that has. as far as evil goes - there is no reason a party of evil characters cannot share an adventure. As the DM though you need to be sure that they all need each other in order to complete the quest. but be prepared at the end, as I have NEVER seen a group of Evil characters part ways with a smile. generally its winner take all.

the best way I have seen this donw is to make sure each character has a vital peice of the puzzle that does not need to be revealed to the others. Easier said than done but....

anyway - have fun with it.

Stuart
April 20th, 2007, 19:02
Since humans have manifestly created and live in settled societies that are larger and extend beyond familial ties and genomics, to state that we are not naturally societal is interesting ? We do indeed experience conflicts because of this grouping but the fact remains that humans have found an advantage in grouping together.

As for the "rules of society", that is a rather more complex issue; whose society and when ?

kimba
April 20th, 2007, 19:25
Since humans have manifestly created and live in settled societies that are larger and extend beyond familial ties and genomics, to state that we are not naturally societal is interesting ? We do indeed experience conflicts because of this grouping but the fact remains that humans have found an advantage in grouping together.

As for the "rules of society", that is a rather more complex issue; whose society and when ?

you kind of made my point. we have turf issues all the time - because we are not social creatures. however once again I must say that being able to think past and override our insticts is what makes humans different than
any other animal on earth.

longarms
April 21st, 2007, 20:12
Okay, I have a tip. The D&D alignment system seems to encourage a black and white system of good an evil through the alignment system. At the least, I think this produces somewhat cliche roleplaying. At the worst, this can make it impossible to have a good campaign when one or more party characters are evil. To help my players think in shades of goodness instead of on or off like a light switch, I ask them to choose their goodness on a 1-10 scale. Feel free to use any of this if you think it would help your campaign.

www.pisian.com/rules.html

"In this campaign there is no evil, at least as it is described on page 104 of the PHB. In other words, there are no beings that that “actively pursue evil … killing out of some duty to some evil deity or master.” Instead, beings either have a high goodness, low goodness or in extreme cases, no goodness.

You declare on a 0-10 scale how much goodness your character has.
- Goodness is as defined in the PHB on page 104. “Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.”

-A character with 0 goodness has no altruism, no respect for life, and no concern for the dignity of sentient beings. While this character does not actively seek to inflict harm on other sentient beings, he will do so even if for only small personal gain. For example, when determining whether to kill someone, this character weighs only external motivations only. “Will I get caught and hunted down?”

-A character with a goodness of 10 will frequently make self-sacrifices for the betterment of other sentient beings. They are internally motivated to do good.

-A character with a goodness of 5 is an average decent person. Such a character balances his interest versus the interest of others. Such an average person may be influenced to occasionally have streaks one way or another.
"

JMOxx75
April 22nd, 2007, 02:12
"In this campaign there is no evil, at least as it is described on page 104 of the PHB. In other words, there are no beings that that “actively pursue evil … killing out of some duty to some evil deity or master.” Instead, beings either have a high goodness, low goodness or in extreme cases, no goodness.

I like how simple this is. I like how it represents how a character acts based on his or her surroundings. They may have very low scores in goodness and lawfulness but will act accordingly if they feel it in their best interests to do so at the moment. Then when the threat of judgment or imprisonment is gone so is their desire to do good.

The other good thing is the DM is the only one that needs to know this number. The other players in the party do not. That way during roleplaying they will discover the true limits of one another's willingness to risk themselves for others. This is how trust is established in real life. I know in the Army I knew who I could count on to do the right thing in combat and who probable wouldn't.

Anyway good rule variation.