How to be evil?

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How to be evil?

Postby Solaghar » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:25 pm

I just wanted to open up a little bit of a discussion about the nature of evil characters, and how they fit into your roleplay, either as an evil character yourself, or someone who interacts with them.

My own personal opinion is that to be a really successful evil character, you as the player need to buy into the villain mentality, in that you're not simply a greedy and self-absorbed person, but rather that you will actually seek out other characters and oppose them, often merely for the sake of opposing them. Taking a neutral evil character as someone who simply looks out for their own best interests, there's very little practical difference there between that outlook and how many people play chaotic neutral, or even chaotic good at times!

I think a good villain needs to be willing to act as a foil to established good characters. But it's impossible to maintain that status as a dark reflection of others without interacting with them. This can be difficult on a MUD because it's combat-based at its core (if you don't believe that, consider the amount of code dedicated to supporting combat versus the amount of code dedicated to supporting roleplay, not that the two are in any way mutually exclusive), for good or for ill, and many times people expect that the natural result of any kind of opposition is to fight and kill one's opponent.

I see in the game a real desperation on the part of many good characters to be opposed, to have that villain to face, but also the natural desire to "win" a conflict, thus villains tend to get swamped with people opposing them in a way that makes it far more difficult for them to come out from an interaction having accomplished much. Another issue is the relatively static nature of our world... characters never truly die, players are accorded very little real control of the game world, which is for the most part static. A follower of Cyric can encourage people to murder, but murder itself never lasts. A follower of Talona can warn people against the power of disease, but no one really gets disease, and if they do happen to contract one while fighting, well there's a cure disease spell.

I have seen a few people doing some excellent villainy lately, but as always, it requires a willing participant in the form of a good character who is willing to be tempted, be challenged, be frightened, be used, twisted, etc. Someone who is willing to be good but be tempted down a dark path, even for a little while. Just as in Star Wars, Luke had to be tempted by the power of the dark side, how boring would it have been if the dark side had never been a real temptation for him? If Vader's offer to join him, if the easy strength of the dark side, were simply responded to by Luke with a shrug of the shoulders and an easy denial? For villainy to work in a roleplay context, I think people need to be willing to see the possibility of going down an evil path for a while, to see the value in the opposing outlook, and maybe even to be darkened for a while before being redeemed. If good vs. evil is simply opposing teams who occasionally kill one-another, we might as well become a football MUD.

So my own thought is if you're evil, embrace the role as the villain rather than the selfish loner. Find some group to oppose, and oppose them. Not necessarily through killing (though the thought of death should always loom), but through corruption, through chaos, through anger, get a rise out of those heroes. If you're good, don't think of villains as people to be avoided at all costs, think of them as other characters who can bring out parts of your roleplay which might never appear with other groups of good characters. Be willing to make mixed groups where different styles of roleplay and opinions about the world can actually be discussed and dealt with. After all, Mystra, Kelemvor, and Cyric started out as an adventuring band together, how dull would their interactions have been without Cyric in the mix? How could Cyric's betrayal have had meaning if he had not been understood to be a friend or ally at first? If Midnight had simply cast a detect evil spell on Cyric when she first met him and ignored him after that, she never would have ascended to godhood as Mystra!

This isn't to be taken as a criticism of anyone, I just wanted to spur a little discussion and thought about what it means to be evil, and how evil is to some extent necessary to be truly good. In my opinion, those who avoid evil doom themselves to never be truly good, because they have nothing to challenge them to make the difficult choices which truly separate the good from the evil.
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Re: How to be evil?

Postby Elisabeth » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:03 pm

I agree that interaction, and prolonged interaction at that, is the basis of any worthwhile roleplay of good vs. evil or even law vs. chaos, which I lament to see is more rarely undertaken still. The prospect of my lawful good squire having to learn to deal or even feud against the whims of one who as strongly serves good but chaos rather than law is an exciting one, but I digress.

In my experience, what has made the very best villains are those characters who do not stride about looking for the next goodie to curse/harm/kill. Frankly, that is boring and more than not leads to displeasurable play on both sides (eventually), because inevitably you're going to pick the wrong target and kill them for all the wrong reasons and end up being hunted down by their powerful allies for it. Another thing that sets the great evils apart for me is their willingness not to pray only upon the weakest and most obviously vulnerable goodie. Take that crazy Areia person for instance: She had for a long time been this ostensibly almost impenetrable spirit, potent and sure of conviction as well as of her Art. But eventually a few brave people started getting to her, seeing what she was actually about, and using that to their own ends. Even the most valliant and mastered knight will (or should) have his weakness, and those courageous enough to seek it out over that of the new blood fresh from Waterdeep's sewers and easily swayed deserves our praise.

The most gratifying fueds for me have also been the longest-lasting, so I'd suggest that things not be rushed, but rather be let to evolve naturally over time as your characters interact. Maybe the evil gives a first shot at getting under the goodie's skin, but soon enough the goodie figures it out and learns how to respond; some time passes, perhaps bringing the goodie to forget and again lower her defenses, whereupon the evil happens to resurface... etc. It is a journey on both sides, not a goal to see who can RP the most invincible character.

More compelling still, albeit this point at times does require at least some degree of OOC preplanning, is when both sides have something personal to gain, and/or something personal to lose, in their relationship (I'm using that term loosely here, folks). A certain sister of Elisabeth's represents a constant and very real threat to everything Elisabeth aspires for; on the other hand, she too represents a true desire that, try as she might, Elisabeth can't bring herself to shake, and that desire in itself, even without her sister's prodding, provides a battle that she continues to fight with herself. When the stakes are personal, more than simply a matter of winning and losing, is when conflict is at its best.

At last, to villain and hero alike, don't be afraid, at end, to lose. I can say from personal experience that playing the loser, whether you were the protagonist or the antagonist, can be a profoundly more enjoyable experience. Maybe I just suffer from vaguely masochistic tendencies, but building up that arc, seeing where all it goes and how all characters involved grow throughout, watching my character fight his inner and outer battles to his best only to meet his downfall at the hands of the one he hates and/or loves the most--it is rather cathartic.
When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.
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Re: How to be evil?

Postby Talos » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:17 am

A goblin, a trickster, a warrior? A nameless terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. A most feared being in all the cosmos. Nothing could stop, hold, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
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Re: How to be evil?

Postby Yemin » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:54 am

I've never been a fan of the evil / good axis of the alignment system. Truthfully I could have and do get along quite well with the original Lawful - chaotic axis though. An interesting tidbit I've picked up over the years is that the original DND lawful and chaotic alignments weren't actually meant to bespeak much of anything about your character's personality. Far as I heard the Giggax meant them to be a marker of where you were from more than anything else. A lawful person was from civilised lands and had certain terms of phrase and common sense / knowledge that someone from a chaotic area was not, Barbarians, forest loving elves, etc. I think this went as far as having a Lawful language and a chaotic Language at some point, but I might be hallucinating that part.

I'm not a strong believer that anyone, even fantasy characters are innately good or evil and much prefer my fantasy generally dark. Where heroes die not to villains but to mundaine drudgery of a gritty pittyless world that has no tolerance for heroism without consequence.

but since I if likely few others view DND and Fr in particular as a medieval super hero fantasy. I tend to appreciate two particular archetypes of villain. The King pins and the henchmen. In short, the Lex luthers / Red skulls and the nameless legions they command.

There's something compelling,, or so I find,, about a character in any story that sits at the top of even a small organisation, paying merceneries or encouraging others to burn villages and kidnap travelling nobles for randsome. The problem I find with this is that in my time here, I find that there are very few people willing to be the henchman or henchwench. Not that I've never seen this happen just that there is a tendancy to want to write your own story and leave your own legend carved into the side of Mount Waterdeep. I know there are churches and faiths, and that it is a large part of the game but I don't really count these for a few reasons.

1. A faithed player who champions an evil cause is doing just that. championing someone elses cause. I'm not sure I have the words to express my full meaing, however, I always feel a greater depth of evil and quality in a character if they are self driven to comit acts of evil. Rather than getting in line under a god or government. To me, someone like Batman's joker who comparitively hurts a rather small number of people. Often limited to one city has more depth and is more enjoyable to watch than someone like Fzoul Kembric. High priest of Cyric who's initiated wars across the central heartlands and sacrifices more people in the name of cyric each year than Joker will probably get to throughout his run from the 1970s onwards.

2. Faerunian churches are often too rigid in their dogma. A quality of most religions in general but simply put, a church is often a big sprawling thing with lots of arms and wings of people. People whom all follow a single dogma. Even if that dogma is as broad as Kill people and eat their souls. Because of the interplay of faiths and the almost too well known likes and dislikes of each god, there is an inherent inflexiblity to your evil.

Unlike someone like Lex luther who if he wanted to, could liquidate his funds, fire all his goons with high tech weaponry an pop up in china, having bought a monastery of Zen monks so he could train how to kill superman with the power of Tofu.

In short, before this gets too long. I've somewhat repeated some previously stated things but I encourage those playing evil to interact with good characters indirectly. i know the platform is static so you can't leave literal burned villages for people to find and consider a looming threat. But perhaps your rp as the leader of some evil Mercenary band or semi secret group that does evil is writing a journal about some of the things you'"done" and publishing it as a method of gaining infamy to draw more people to your banner.
Or posting notices for certain dubious services needed on the boards etc. A main feature here of the king pin that can be done here quite well is simply to remind the champions of light. Hey..., you guys over there in the deep. The eivl amassing out here is not only noticeable but far more overwhelming, widespread, and terrifying than you could imagine in your well quaffed heads.

I'd also encourage people, especially Neutral players to be willing to be henchmen. Currently, there is a tendancy for Neutrals to be good leaning, which is up to each person and granted the official description for neutral even states that neutral people would rather have Good aligned neighbours than evil ones. But what it doesn't state is that Neutral people would also much rather have Money and power like anybody else. I've come across a few neutrals who were good in all but glow. I find serving evil for something as tenuous as money, blackmail or vice makes for a fantastic portrayal of uncaring brutality that is rarely matched in other ways.
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!
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Re: How to be evil?

Postby Aysa » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:16 pm

How to be evil?

That's hard to do in this environment. I tried it, and I found that my RP style doesn't really work as an evil person. For one, I'm around all the time (yes, I have no life) and I need social interaction to go along with my daily grind. Unfortunately, those of 'like minds' are not around as frequent. After all, we go to where the RP is. Or at least, I do. Other people may find it easy to do, and I applaud them for it. And the reason I applaud them is because...

Any writer knows that you have to establish a 'struggle' in order to tell a story. Man versus man. Man versus environment. Man versus self. It helps when there is a foil. Batman had the Joker. Superman had Lex Luthor. Finding that foil on FK is hard because as someone eluded to earlier, we all want to win and engrave our name on Mount Waterdeep or in the Halls of Heroes/Villians. But a story needs to have a 'loss' or two in order to be compelling. For me, Empires Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. Yes, the reveal at the end is historic... but it added a huge dynamic between Luke (our hero) and Darth Vader (his foil). You also had the massacre at Hoth. You had Han being captured by Boba Fett. You had Luke losing to Vader, and losing his hand in the process.

I'm ok with losing as long as it's telling a good story. Whether it's because my character has some quirks / faults or because the IC situation calls for it (like being injured and suddenly finding herself face to face with the criminal she's been looking for), a loss is an opportunity for characters to grow and become stronger. Though, there has to be a balance so that hope is not lost. Some give and take helps any story flourish.

And now, I feel like I'm rambling and just tossing out random thoughts.
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Re: How to be evil?

Postby Aysa » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:13 pm

I just wanted to give a shout out to Rakthar... the question of who is being the antagonist or protagonist is up for debate; however, there is some good drama and storylines being developed. Throughout all of this, though, things have been light and friendly on an OOC level. (At least for me it has). When you devote a lot into your character / your alt, emotions can easily get wrapped up in it. But things have been cool, and I see this developing into a prolonged storyline between his character and mine. (Cabadath and Galeena).

Kudos, Rakthar.
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Re: How to be evil?

Postby Rakthar » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:40 pm

Throughout all of this, though, things have been light and friendly on an OOC level. (At least for me it has).


That is all i go for, OOC-wise, the learning curve for escalation, what's proper when, good/bad form is a steep one, i'll admit that. I feel compelled to reciprocate, and to agree, emotional investment is as real as real gets. All we can/should hope for is to tell a good story, as was discussed between the two of us before, i am really glad that OOC-wise everything is a-ok, and it is so from my side too.

I'd like to extend this call-out to Daerin, since he's been a essential part of Cabbie's character building all along, and a real facilitator for my adaption to FK in general.

To try and not deviate from the topic, i'll share my two cents, since we're here already! Learning how to -not- be the hero is counter-intuitive, and feels weird, or felt, for me, FK requires massive interaction, it was stated above, but it's good to re-iterate, put your hero/villains out there, but also, don't feel bad if they are rejected from certain circles, specially if they were circles your character was used to inhabit before being 'out'. I had it happen to Cabbie, and it felt like i was doing something wrong, now i can see it was all a stepping stone to where he's going to, which for some more than others, will, hopefully, be a few interesting twists. I could be wrong, too! But so far, it feels right.

Kudos to us, for writing the greatest, longest story to be told out there.(That i know of.)
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