Wednesday, September 14, 2011
There seems to be a stigma out there against running "evil" characters or parties.
Why is this, exactly?
Looking at the roots of the hobby, it seems like running an "evil" character was not uncommon. Flipping through the AD&D Rogues Gallery, which details many of the "house" characters of the folks involved with TSR, a good portion of them are evil, and as many neutral. Storied characters like Robilar (Rob Kuntz), Erac's Cousin (Ernie Gygax), and Lanolin (Lawrence Schick), were all evil.
Changing the "goal" of the game might be one reason. As the game metamorphosed from "treaure hunt" to "fulfill epic quest", it quite possibly became easier for a good-aligned party to cooperate toward a more charitable end. Evil and neutral aligned parties (or, more likely, a healthy mix of alignments) was probably actually more effective with the treasure hunt scenario, such as plumbing the depths of Castle Greyhawk. There would be plenty of situations where someone of low scruples could be an advantage to such pursuits, as well as a variety of "aligned" situations to take advantage of, such as shrines or magic swords.
Another reason might be a trend I saw in the 90's, which was bringing in an evil character to essentially "screw" the party. The player's character would steal, backstab, and otherwise work against the other players, all under the aegis of "playing my alignment", when really it was just kind of dickish. Or maybe just odd concept of player competition?
If you consider the overall main goals of fantasy RPGs to be character development, imaginative immersion, problem solving, and even cooperative storytelling, there doesn't seem to be any need for an evil character to be so disruptive. After all, even a character with intentions of taking over the world someday, founding a dark empire, or whatever, is going to recognize that the quickest path to accumulating wealth and power is through cooperation, not just being a sociopath and getting immediately killed by the rest of the party (as I've seen happen time and again to evil characters).
What are your experiences with evil characters and/or parties?