How to Play an Evil Character

June 15, 2011 by beerogre

How to Play Evil Characters

Following on from a thread in the Dungeons & Dragons group, I thought I would post my thoughts on how to play evil chracters in Roleplaying Games… and how it can be fun!

Consider the adventures of the shining Paladin, Dirk the Implaccable and his morally challenged companion Gary the Heartless

Evil is practical
Above all else, evil characters are practical, sometimes brutally so.
Why would Gary the Heartless sneak into the Gnome village to recover the Orc totem, when he could poison their water supply and come back to collect it in a few days time.

Evil is not cowardly
It’s tempting to play an evil character as a snivelling wretch. However, the acts of an evil character often require a lot of intestinal fortitude and detachment.

When hunting for the Orc Totem in the Temple of Fairy Healing, slaughtering the pacifist Gnome priestesses, just because they were going to raise the alarm, requires commitment to a course of action on par with any Paladin.

The ends justify the means
Evil characters do not exclude a course of action or a plan, just because it is unpalatable.
If the easiest way for Gary the Heartless to find out about the defences of the Gnome village is to summon a demon… then so be it… If that requires the sacrifice of some gnomes. When dealing with Demons, you need to expect to incur some minor costs.

Collateral damage is an occupational hazard
Evil characters use the quickest, easiest path to success. If this involves violence… well… These things happen.
If the local Orc king wants Gary the Heartless to destroy the Gnome’s new magical bridge. If the ensuing fire also consumes the gnome orphanage… well… the Gnomes shouldn’t have built it into the foundations of the bridge!

Always hedge your bets
The evil character sees both sides of any conflict and measures the potential return from those angles…
How much would the gnomes pay when Gary the Heartless tells them that it was the paladin, Dirk the Implacable who burned their orphanage-bridge to ashes?

Treachery is all part of the bargain
While an evil character understands the value of friends, allies are just convenient.
When Gary the Heartless and the gnome king battle through the wilderness to take revenge on Dirk the Implacable, who is supposedly hiding out at the Orc encampment. When the Orcs conveniently ambush them and stuff the gnome in a pot, Gary collects his reward and goes on his way… There are plenty more stupid gnomes out there.

Never do your own dirty work
You might be an excellent fighter, but actually fighting exposes the evil character to risk… Risk is bad…
It’s much easier to convince Dirk the Implacable, the thick-headed paladin, that the gnomes of the village have been replaced by demonic dopplegangers and send him off to do battle, than do it yourself… After all when the gnomes attack Dirk the Orphan-Slayer on sight… That’s exactly what a demonic dopplegangers would do, right?

Deception is all part of the game
An evil character should never be what they seem. This puts potential enemies off guard and makes them easier prey.
When a new shining paladin rides into the gnome village, the gnomes rejoice that a saviour has come to find their king, especially due to the recent bridge burning that killed all the orphans and the poisoning of the well that claimed so many lives… Sure this paladin looks a bit like Gary the Heartless in a wig… But that’s got to be just coincidence.

Capitalise on tragedy
Good characters see tragedy as a chance to help, evil characters see this as a chance to profit.
Following a recent attack by a rogue paladin, the Gnome village is in ruins. However, as fortune would have it, a passing alchemist (who bears a passing resemblance to Gary the Heartless with a beard) who has a supply of highly addictive dreamweed, just happens to be in the vicinity… and nothing makes the bad times better than a serious dreamweed addiction.

Hit them when they’re down
The evil character has no qualms about kicking an enemy when they’re down both physically and figuratively.
The thriving black market in the Gnome village, that has recently sprung up, to support the community’s deplorable drug problem, is controlled by Gary the Heartless. He sells those gnomes that can’t pay debts to the local Orc tribe with whom he’s on good terms. In return, the orcs are supervising the rebuilding of the gnome bridge and brothel… Progress seems to be going well.

It’s all in a days work
Evil characters do not dwell on their failures, there are always more opportunities. Evil always looks forward to the next scheme, for to look back is to consider some of the terrible works you have wrought.
With the Gnome Village a smoking ruin, after the Orc Tribe got into the Dreamweed stash. Gary the Heartless looks on, ruing the day he ever got involved with those stupid gnomes… but what’s that?
The sound of tinkling laughter and tiny violins, which could only mean that there is a Pixie Village nearby… and Gary did manage to save some of the Dreamweed!

This is just a bit of fun of course, why not give us your take on the whole “playing evil characters”.

… and finally… unending thanks to Romain for bringing the escapades of Gary and Dirk to life with his sketches.

BoW Andy