Evil Alignment PCs

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Has anyone ever created an adventure where the PCs are aligned evil or chaotic evil and instead of rescuing people or helping people they basically pillage, invade, and destroy? Does it work well?
It can be done, but it's far more difficult to pull off well. D&D is pretty much designed to be a cooperative game, and evil characters aren't exactly known for being cooperative.

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I think it comes up from time to time in every group - sometimes the DM plans it that way, sometimes the players hijack a nominally heroic setting and drive it into anti-hero or villain territory, to the frustration of the DM.

I rarely see anyone discuss an evil campaign in favorable terms:  DMs usually describe evil PCs in the hands of bad role-players as destructive and disruptive, and players in groups with mixed alignments usually describe evil PCs as bad team players. 

It's not unusual for me to hear about evil campaigns falling apart shortly after being launched as well, and it seems like at least a couple of the more successful uses I can think of were one-shot adventures or very short campaigns.




That said, there are groups who swear that it can work and be a very rewarding experience. 

And, the video game Dungeon Keeper, which puts the PC in charge of creating an evil dungeon and running its day-to-day operation, gathered a lot of fans for the way it stood fantasy RPG cliche's on their head in a setting loaded with dark humor.

I think that, just like heroic groups, villainous groups depend on having good teamwork, mutual trust.  A unifying goal or party mission statement, or a clear enemy that everyone can agree on, can only help keep the party working together and going in the right direction.



There are a few options if you choose to try this:

  1. an anti-hero campaign with less-than-heroic characters pitted against even worse villains

  2. one-shot adventures with evil characters as part of a larger heroic campaign, to explore an aspect of the larger campaign that the good characters wouldn't normally be able to see (a day in the life of low-ranking drudges of the evil orc horde that the heroes have been fighting against, for example)

  3. a one-shot adventure or short campaign secretly being used to let the players create villains that their real, heroic characters will be fighting against later in what looks like a real campaign

  4. a tongue-in-cheek exploration of fantasy cliche's from an evil point-of-view, in the style of the Dungeon Keeper video games, in which the monsters are working stiffs or thinly-veiled heroes being subjected to invasions from greedy heroes and their heavy-handed Lord of the Land (after all, the iconic dungeon crawl is at heart a story about a bunch of guys calling themselves "heroes" who kick in the door of some wizard's private residence to kill people and steal stuff)

  5. a genuinely evil campaign where the players are free to just let their most distructive, antisocial, and evil imaginations run wild


Of these options, option 5 seems to bring out the worst in players for a while, before it starts losing the shock value and begins getting boring.  It might be better to secretly treat this choice more as a short campaign for "getting it out of their system" for players who've gotten bored with heroic campaigns and are acting out by vandalizing attempts at a heroic campaign, and only outwardly dress it up as a longer campaign than the players' attention spans would really be able to handle.  I've never heard of this option working for any serious length of time, and it seems like the sort of thing that would confirm Jack Chick's worst suspicions about the game.

I've never heard of option 4 actually being attempted in a pen-and-paper format, but I see no reason it couldn't work.  The other options are things I have heard of being attempted with varying degrees of success, but, as always, your mileage may vary.


If you do choose to try running evil-themed adventures and campaigns, please let us know how they turn out.  I would be interested in hearing about the experiences and impressions of groups who try it out, whether it works or not, just for my own curiosity.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Im actually running one now to "get it out of their system" so to speak. I have a well writen out wrold and one wanted to be a demented necromancer that wanted to take over the world, one wanted to be blackguard that through politics and blackmail slowly becomes a king, etc etc.

So I set up a "Fake" world for them to ruin as they wish really. I setted up a criminal organiztion that wants to take over the world and hired various people (Including the PCs) as members.

My only real rules are
1. Dont be the jerk that steals all the gold/loot in a hoard so the other PCs get unbalanced
2. Dont be th numbnut that "kills the others while they sleep" so we have to sit here all night making PCs the whole night who will find any reason to make their backstory a char that wants to kill you.

So far it been going well, no one has been "chaotic stupid" or "No fair how come paladins are chasing me I only raped and tortured and killed and burnt down eight villages on way here evil"
I would wonder who would want to Role Play a rapist? And who would want to encourage that as a source of entertainment?

Sounds like D-Baggery at the very very least. 

Has anyone ever created an adventure where the PCs are aligned evil or chaotic evil and instead of rescuing people or helping people they basically pillage, invade, and destroy? Does it work well?


Ive had a group of PCs where one character was secretly evil.


Chaotic evil is tough as the players can quickly fall into dissention.


Lawful evil can easily be done.


In general I don't see a big difference between the campaigns except that as a DM you cant persuade the characters to do things out of the good of their hearts.  You can certainly persuade them using greed and coersion.


 


 



And who would want to encourage that as a source of entertainment?
 



lol, um R.A.Salvatore?  Look at the Forgotten Realms adventures that had Artemis Entreri and Jaraxle in them.


Just because a character is evil does not mean that they have sexual deviances.

The basic thing about running a good evil campaign is that it requires a few of the same thing as running a good campaign.

The players need a common goal, good in-group cohesion and a lot of obstacles preventing them from reaching their goals. The only things that really change when you run an Evil game, are the actual goals and the available means to reach them.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I briefly ran an evil campaign and found it infinitely harder to prepare for and run than a standard "good" campaign. For starters, there aren't a whole lot of creature write-ups for things that are unaligned or good, so I had to stick with things like fey creatures since they are the closest to something the evil PCs would like to destroy. The heroic tier has a fair amount of such creatures, but from paragon on it's mostly "classic" baddies, and my group wanted to play at level 11 so I had difficultly there. I filled this gap by replacing a few creatures with hordes of minions who were defenseless townspeople and (would have encountered if they ever got to that point) town/castle defenses to fight them off, and using DMG 1 and 2's methods of bridging the level gap and enhancing lower-level to provide some sort of challenge.

To flavor the game as more than just a series of battles against good-aligned creatures, I made sure to emphasize the "white knight" attitude of their opponents, adding in obnoxious cliches for their to tout, as well as detailed descriptions of how the townspeople reacted to the attacks. I found that making them seem as innocent and helpless as possible really got the players into the game. For example, the PCs encountered two wood nymphs playing in the forest on their way to destroy the druid's grove and plant the demonic seed for the gnolls - I made the nymphs appear young and childlike (which was actually a mistake considering the....attitude...of two of the players), and as such they really felt like they were being evil as opposed to just neutral guys doing mercenary work.

I found it hard to put together something that wasn't the cliche "you're mercenaries/raiders/pirates who are hired to kill/steal/burn," although I did eventually create a storyline involving the PCs assisting a band of gnolls who were forced out of their conquered lands by elven settlers (which, in reality, is very much a reflavored good-vs-evil idea) and it worked for the time we played. Another idea I had for after the PCs complete the elven storyline was a "Most Evil of Them All" adventure, where they would fight other evil entities not because they wanted to be good, but because they wanted to be the "king of the evil mountain" and gain all the power that comes with such a title. An example of an idea I had was that the PCs would eventually be capitulated by devils who served not very far under Asmodeus's most powerful agents, and as such they would perform tasks for their devilish masters as needed while at the same time giving them a goal of eventually overthrowing/getting revenge against their masters and potentially gaining control of the devil armies themselves.

I hope some of this helps!
I'm not designing an adventure like this, I was just curious :P I agree that a one-off adventure would work best -just make them invade a city, kill the king, steal stuff, and leave or whatever. It just seems like an interesting way to mix things up...
Evil campaigns are hard to do. The biggest problem is that you need reasonably mature players for it to work, but it's the immature ones that usually want to play evil characters.

They key thing is laying out what level of conflict is acceptable between party members and what level of evil is allowed. A group of evil mercenaries might be a tight knit band that treated each other with respect even if they have none for anybody else, or it could be a back stabbing group of opportunists and liars. Both are perfectly viable designs but if a player who expects one is in a campaign designed for the other, there is going to be problems.

From a campaign perspective, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that you need a stronger reason for the party members to want to work together. The only thing you can't really do is motivate the characters to serve the cause of evil the way you can motivate them to serve the cause of good, everything else works with a few modifications.

Evil one shot adventures are much easier and a lot of fun. In most groups I've been DM for I've run an chaotic evil one shot adventure designed to degenerate into a huge party fight at some point. It can be a good way to blow off steam if the players don't take it too seriously.

Jay

I would never run a evil campaign because they become a complete miss of people acting like ****.  It can be done, but the odds are really against you that it will be a good "evil" campaign

I once did an evil quest. Players had to choose a different race and they were the chosen of their race to claim a new continent discovered!
As long as you throw them "good monsters" to kill, they will work together!
We never finished the quest but if the goal need them to work together, they will!

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Not since I was, like, 12, no.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I would wonder who would want to Role Play a rapist? And who would want to encourage that as a source of entertainment?

Sounds like D-Baggery at the very very least. 




Orin, I'm sorry to say that there is apparently just enough of a niche market for it, that someone actually published a hideously immature attempt at an RPG (F.A.T.A.L.) that had **** as one of it's central themes, including stats for genital size, bladder capacity, and more.  I don't think think it was a parody or practical joke, and the guys responsible for it sound like some real trolls.

There's currently an active thread in the "what's a player to do" forum about a game featuring a Serial Killer PC (link); the game appears to be going exactly the way you might expect it to, if you have a pessimistic view on evil characters and games.

Furthermore, I've also seen it argued that Vampire, the Masquerade is essentially a game about ****, if you are willing to humor the vampirism-as-sex metaphor.





I like to think I could probably play an evil character and make it work; I'd want to see the character face justice in the end for his crimes, though. 

I could also imagine certain types of evil adventures and campaigns as being a lot of fun to DM, and to play in.

However, glamorizing murder, ****, and torture is really not my cup of tea - those are things that monsters get killed or imprisoned for doing in the kinds of stories I feel good about being involved in.  As a DM, these things are something that I would want to inspire my PCs to work together to prevent and avenge, rather than commit.  On-screen scenes of PC ****, torture, and murder played for entertainment are signs, in my narrow-minded opinion, of a serious case of DM-FAIL.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
However, glamorizing murder, ****, and torture is really not my cup of tea - those are things that monsters get killed or imprisoned for doing in the kinds of stories I feel good about being involved in.  As a DM, these things are something that I would want to inspire my PCs to work together to prevent and avenge, rather than commit.  On-screen scenes of PC ****, torture, and murder played for entertainment are signs, in my narrow-minded opinion, of a serious case of DM-FAIL.



That's generally my angle too.

When the PCs are played as regular cinematic heroes, the bad guys can be pretty gruesome (usually implied, off-screen), and that leaves little room for moral doubt that the heroes are doing the right thing when they apply summary justice and kill them. It also allows them to play morally grey, edgy or anti-hero characters, yet still quite obviously be the story's protaginists when they dispatch the monsters.

If they want to be evil, then the players obviously would have trouble playing the same kind of bad guys that I can present to them as sword-fodder when they are the heroes.

It has to move to a different game world, where they can be "diet coke of evil", or a pantomime villain, or some kind of misunderstood not-really-evil.

Or, when they approach the campaign climax, just before their plan of surpreme evil is about to be set in motion, you have a party of Good Guys barge in and kill the **** out of them. Make it a completely impossible encounter with no escape.

When they complain, just say "That's how these things go in a D&D world. Tough break."

If you want to be evil, you have to accept that it's easy to bully the weak, but the biggest fishes in D&D are the good guys. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
The basic thing about running a good evil campaign is that it requires a few of the same thing as running a good campaign.

The players need a common goal, good in-group cohesion and a lot of obstacles preventing them from reaching their goals. The only things that really change when you run an Evil game, are the actual goals and the available means to reach them.



this a thousand times over. 

have a pre-game session for them to figure out their goals and reasons to work together, the same as they would do with a good aligned group. 

if the player wants to be a dick, he'll be a dick, regardless of the letters in the "alignment" box. i've seen "good" paladins. it had "LG" right there in the box, but he was offing the peasantry like they were annoying flies.

i've seen it work as long as the players understand that they can't create PCs who are disruptive to the group's gameplay: your social contract rules are same, the methodology in play is different is all.
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"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
I agree with YronimosW.  A few suggestions I would add would be to sit down during character creation and let form a "gentleman's agreement" to avoid ruining the adventure by attacking each other and limiting/ refraining from atrocities.  While others might consider that meta-gaming I would say it keeps the spirit of the game fun.

If you watch movies and TV shows like Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Reservoir Dogs, Breaking Bad, Dusk ‘til Dawn, Con Air, Ronin, The Borgias, and even Pulp Fiction, can see examples of evil characters interacting with each other.  While they do attack and threaten each other more pressing issues drive the story lines.  These movies and TV shows can provide your players with examples of how to run characters in an all evil campaign.
 
Thank you, and that's a great suggestion on learning by example from those shows, Pyrate! 

I agree completely with pluisjen and oxybe:  the exact same things that make any other campaign and party work are at least as important in an Evil party and campaign.

[spoiler Expansion on that train of thought]
A healthy party will all be working together to achieve the same goals, and should treat the rest of the party, as well as the story and gameworld, with at least the minimal amount of respect needed to share in creating a fun story, and, in the end, I think it's generally considered implicit that a heroic party may have different reasons for wanting to achieve the same goals, even if the reason is something as un-heroic as a Rogue wanting to steal a few gold pieces from a monster that is minding its own business, while the Paladin wants to rid the kingdom of evil, and the Fighter wants revenge on a conspiracy of monsters that killed his family.

With an evil party, the same thing is true, only it's probably best for the DM to make that explicit.  In some ways, the occasional Evil adventure might actually be a healthy exercise for a role-playing group, in working together as players to make up a party with very different motivations that can still see past their own ambitions and desires to accomplish a shared goal - something that even a group that normally wants to play nothing but lawful good paladins could learn and benefit from.



I think that what causes the biggest problems with evil PCs is that, for whatever reason, most players want to think of Evil characters as being totally free to do as they please, and a license to throw all responsibility out the window, when in reality the complete opposite should be true.  Evil creatures are, more often than not, figurative slaves to their own ever-present weaknesses, if not literal slaves to more powerful evil creatures, and so they tend to be wretched beings that live their lives in fear and misery, and that fear and misery only increases as evil creatures become more successful.  Meanwhile, Evil creatures still have families to support, property to protect, hobbies and dreams to pursue if possible, and, more so than Good creatures, their own selves to look out for, their own secrets to bury, their own crimes to cover up, their own vulnerabilities to hide. 

The party should be even more important for an Evil character because, unloved and unrespected by all his victims and other peers, an Evil character has even fewer people who will stand up for him when things go badly than any Good character would:  good, law-abiding people hate criminals, and other criminals will rip their friends off and sell them out faster than anyone. 

It should be harder work to be an Evil character to just step out of his/her house every day than it would be to be play any other alignment, and living in constant terror of the bodies buried in your basement being discovered, of underestimating your victims, of making the tiniest mistakes, of being recognized by someone who wants revenge or a reward for your capture or death, and of having your families and property used against you by people who are at least as evil as you, should mean that Evil characters are never truly free and become less so as their crimes pile up, and they become increasingly more dependant on the few people they really can count on and trust.


And so those, I think, are some valuable components to making an Evil character, party, and campaign work:


  • communication:  the DM and all players need to communicate more than ever during character creation and when dealing with any decision that can threaten the safety, security, and cohesiveness of the party; too often, playing an Evil character becomes an excuse for a player to shut off all two-way communication and simply broadcast sociopathy without receiving anything but a vague sense of other people being shocked, and a lack of effective communication is poison to a social game

  • teamwork:  as pluisjen and oxybe pointed out, shared goals that everyone can agree on as a party are vital, because D&D is a story about a party working together to achieve goals, not about an individual villain being cooler than everyone else; an Evil character should never be an excuse to sever ties with a party and become the complete center of attention

  • responsibility:  a sense of responsibility and respect to a party that the evil character can trust and rely on is important, because teamwork cannot exist without that, both on a party level and on a role-playing group level

  • maturity:  enough maturity to understand the full implications of a life of Evil and its causes and effects is vital, because without that maturity, respect for the game goes out the window - weak, vulnerable, and broken people commit crimes, and the crimes do not make them cooler, but instead makes them even weaker, more vulnerable, and even more broken; the rewards of crime come at terrible prices in the security, self-respect, and comfort of criminals; immature players will never be able to do justice to the tragic subject matter

  • realism:  enough immersion in the game world that the terrible consequences of crimes on both victims and criminal seem believable are important, because it helps to build a vital respect for the campaign setting and the game world; without that respect, playing an Evil character simply becomes an exercise in releasing one's inner sociopathic d-bag at the expense of the player's friends

  • vulnerability:  enough respect for the game world to understand that the world is not the unlimited playground of a villain is important, so that PCs exercise enough restraint to let each other and the DM breathe; the villain instead lives in a state of fear and distrust of the world, a dangerous, terrifying, unfriendly, difficult to understand, and all but impossible-to-fit-into place for villains to exist in; that vulnerability helps to encourage Evil PCs to rely on each other, and to weigh the consequences of their actions carefully:  do the benefits of the crime seem to outweigh the risks?  Vulnerability leads PCs to be creative, plan carefully, work together, and consider their options in character, all of which are valuable elements of a role-playing game

  • reason:  for a PC in a party, "for the EVULZ" is not a good enough reason; most criminals have reasons for what they do, even if they aren't really good reasons; a criminal might commit larger crimes to cover smaller crimes, or to support illegal habits; many criminals choose a life of crime because they believe that life's deck is stacked against them and, as a doomed loser, they have nothing else to lose by turning to crime; many people in history have done evil things for what they felt were the right reasons, such as following orders from legitimate authorities, or out of loyalty to family or friends, or to support what they believe is a higher cause of patriotism or faith; these reasons add a touch of realism to the character, with the added benefit of providing plot hooks for the DM to use to help invest the character the story and in the party - reason and motivation makes characters interesting!


[/spoiler]

Playing an evil character should never become a license to stop being a good player.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I've never been in an out-and-out evil campaign, but I've played evil or extremely-selfish characters in mostly-good parties. More than once, and successfully.

The most essential thing to make this work is to know just how much of a d*ck your character is, why he doesn't shaft the other PCs at any good opportunity, and how far this non-shafting extends to NPCs.

It usually helps, in defining that, if your character has a clear long-range goal. For a party, the group as a whole should have a common overt goal - which doesn't mean they can't each have some covert goal as well.

Not shafting the other PCs is a rule - you'll ruin the game doing that, except by explicit prearrangement between players that makes it 'all in fun' (or some sort of ongoing competition/rivalry) between two PCs and never anything detrimental to the party; you can steal the Fighter's sword, but have to give it back (or arrange for the Fighter to steal it back, or... anyway, it gets back where it belongs) before the next time he needs it.

In other words, the acceptable level of in-party mischief is not affected by character alignment.

Other people (NPCs)? One evil character was highly respectful of local nobility (but usually not deferential because he was nobility himself) and honest with merchants, because his long-term ambitions would be greatly helped if these people respected, trusted, and were willing to do business with him. I think the other PCs never suspected he was evil. Set him near a king with an ill-fitting crown and no clear heir (or one weak or disliked), and his intentions would have been more apparent. Murder? Infants in their beds, no problem, if they happen to be royal heirs standing (or sleeping) between him and a crown.

Another (in a Rifts game) used magically created gems and coins to pay for goods and services, only being careful to leave town at least a couple hours before the magic would expire, figuring he'd never see that town again. The other PCs did get suspicious of why he always had them pay for & pick up stuff at the last minute. The hard part of playing this character was a reason for him to stay with the party; basically they aroused his curiosity.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
In short, a willingness to subordinate the character to the needs of the party and story in spite of character flaws, and the implementation of an explicit Social Contract that the entire group can agree to as DM and players, so that trust and consent between players can be maintained (even if trust and consent shouldn't and doesn't exist between characters.)
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Another note of interest:  Just because the party is of evil alignment doesn't mean that evil monsters will see them as possible allies.  Evil creatures will eagerly prey upon a party of evil PCs.  This can create a party with no safe place to rest and foes in abundance.  A perfect setting for the PCs to need each other and join together for survival.
In short, a willingness to subordinate the character to the needs of the party and story in spite of character flaws, and the implementation of an explicit Social Contract that the entire group can agree to as DM and players, so that trust and consent between players can be maintained (even if trust and consent shouldn't and doesn't exist between characters.)


so just like any other game of D&D, eh?
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
In short, a willingness to subordinate the character to the needs of the party and story in spite of character flaws, and the implementation of an explicit Social Contract that the entire group can agree to as DM and players, so that trust and consent between players can be maintained (even if trust and consent shouldn't and doesn't exist between characters.)


so just like any other game of D&D, eh?




Oh, EXACTLY like any other (non-dysfunctional) game of D&D

For some reason, the players of Stupid Evil and Chaotic Stupid characters (as well as the occasional "Lawful Anal" and "Anal Good" characters) seem to forget that, though.

The sad result is that this typically seems to leave the most unrealistic, uncooperative, and narrow-minded interpretations possible of each alignment to wag the dog at the expense of the party and story, while the player responsible throws his hands up and says "don't blame me, it's my character's fault, and don't blame the character either because he is just following 'the rules' - that's what 'the rules' say he HAS to be like!  And even if I could control the character, I shouldn't have to because it's totally unfair to ask me to break 'the rules' and play a character that doesn't act like a destructive D-Bag just because you are too narrow-minded to let my character rob or attack you whenever I- I mean, HE feels like he would be amused by it!"
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
d'you know what i always counter that with?

"... and i'm totally cool with the character being like that. what i'm not cool with is that you brought that character to the table as a PC. if you can't stay classy, you can't stay here."
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
I like that response.  I've been lucky never to have a group that includes a problem character, but if I ever end up in that situation, that seems like a fine response
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
A fun idea I've been toying with has been an evil, player versus player game... but in a courtly situation, full of byzantine politics. I'm not entirely sure how I'd do it, and I'd need to make sure the players were good RPers to prevent an overabundance of metagaming, but I think that'd be quite fun.