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goto124
2015-01-27, 08:18 AM
Why do people prefer to play Good characters? Good tends to be treated as if it were the default alignment for PCs, but I can't really see why.

Is it because it encourages roleplay, in the sense of making people think twice over the morality of their actions? Evil gives you more freedom of choice... in a bad way? Or something?

Would you let a new player play an Evil character, or campaign? Would you recommand it?

mephnick
2015-01-27, 08:33 AM
Because good is the default assumption for heroes in traditional fantasy, which is the inspiration for the entire hobby. Many people who get into TTRPGs seek to re-live those fantasies.

I let people play evil characters, but most people (ime) play them really badly. It's generally an outlet to be a loner or a jerk. I find that good characters almost always have more depth to them.

Yora
2015-01-27, 08:36 AM
Why alignment?

Just play people who make descisions at the spur of the moment based on what seems right for the character without considering the implications for an arbitrary made up system of morality?

goto124
2015-01-27, 08:41 AM
Alright, I'll extend 'Good' to normal, non-alignment-dependant 'good' with a small letter g.

Still, having to do stuff like worrying about the 'goodness' or 'evilness' of an action, is it all part of TTRPGs?

redwizard007
2015-01-27, 09:00 AM
Adventure design. It is FAR easier to convince Good PCs to save the princess, rescue the kids, hunt down the monsters, etc. without a huge financial incentive or giving the PCs a reason to hate/oppose the antagonists.

No... Ok, less, inter-party conflict. An Evil party is more likely to turn on itself than a good group. While PC vs PC conflict can be fun when tempered, evil rarely shows that restraint.

Because most players are good. It can be fun to play the bad guy sometimes but often an evil campaign turns into the BoVD and most of us aren't into sadistic torture.

goto124
2015-01-27, 09:05 AM
How about a Neutral party? Or pragmatic Evil party? People who don't go around torturing people for fun, but do not consider it beneath them to betray dragons, or use poison, or murder guards?

How do campaigns with Evil parties usually turn out? How experienced were the players involved?

redwizard007
2015-01-27, 09:15 AM
I have run fun evil campaigns, BUT there is almost always at least one guy, we will call him Jason, who wants to take things to the next level.

Now while the rest of the party is figuring out how to ransom the prince, Jason is cutting off appendages under the pretense of interrogation.

When the party is roughing up merchants in a protection racket, Jason is lighting people on fire.

Now, if you don't have a Jason at your table things may go more smoothly, but it may surprise you how sadistic some of your friends may be.

All I'm saying is, if you run evil... Be prepared for nightmares.

Vitruviansquid
2015-01-27, 09:17 AM
If I'm playing DnD, the reason I don't let players play Evil or run an Evil campaign is the same reason I don't want to tell my players we're playing a "humorous" campaign.

It opens the floodgates to all kinds of dysfunction when players take "evil" to mean "you should kick every puppy and be mean to each other and everyone and do horrifyingly unsocially acceptable things" when all you wanted was for people to be pragmatic-evil, or something.

Svata
2015-01-27, 09:34 AM
Because people are afraid of evil, and the GM is afraid they'll have to be stuck playing the good guy if the PCs are evil. But most importantly, because once you open the floodgates, you may not be able to close them again, or worse, you may not want to.

More realistically, because good is simpler to do, and its less likely that someone will be a massive jerk IC in a good-aligned game. And even if there is one, it is far less likely to spiral out of control.

ufo
2015-01-27, 09:46 AM
The uselessness of the whole alignment system aside, I think that, for many players, capital-E Evil becomes the defining characteristic of a given character instead of a consequence of their character's values being incompatible with general society. A character can be seen as evil by society at large, but realistically they will still have heartfelt respect for their friends, family or certain strata of the population. In the campaign I'm DMing right now, the players are all playing absolute scum, who are also criminals that are not shy to torture, manipulate and generally brute-force towards their goals - they are still tightly-knit, respect those who share common goals and have sympathy for the poor working-class people of the city they are in.

kaoskonfety
2015-01-27, 09:48 AM
I have run fun evil campaigns, BUT there is almost always at least one guy, we will call him Jason, who wants to take things to the next level.

Now while the rest of the party is figuring out how to ransom the prince, Jason is cutting off appendages under the pretense of interrogation.

When the party is roughing up merchants in a protection racket, Jason is lighting people on fire.

Now, if you don't have a Jason at your table things may go more smoothly, but it may surprise you how sadistic some of your friends may be.

All I'm saying is, if you run evil... Be prepared for nightmares.

"but I'm evil! it says so on my character sheet" - if I hear this from a Player I have then remove the alignment entry and ask them to think again about their choices

I've run D&D games where the party was all bad, bad people. I've also run alot of Shadowrun where the assumption is you are some flavour of criminal and you break laws at the behest of faceless, often evil, men for money. Its the core premise. If you as a DM are prepared, it works. Sometimes it downright sings.

The trick is stepping back from standard fantasy tropes and looking more at the story/game aspect
- make sure the game is entertaining for everyone, if Jason cutting off limbs is messing up the parties plans but everyone is dark humouring it up out of character - well its a bit twisted but if your table can handle it good. If anyone is uncomfortable it does need to stop tho... cause... ya...
- make sure the bad bad PC's have and over arching foe - in Shadowrun you are always under the thumb of the mega-corps, some good-ish, some end of the world planning scenery chewing villains but characters in almost all cases are unified by the "down with "The Man"" -

Taking a page from that book, an Order of Paladins takes a personal interest in in your groups wrong doings (The Man), as does a cabal of warlocks (scenery chewing villains) and the kings secret police (Also The Man, but bad men, and government sanctioned bad men, who hire you for things they cannot be caught doing) toss is more groups to taste/level of complexity you are comfortable with - have the group work for the highest bidder (one of whom seeks to summons say... Orcus to transform the material world into a demonic disneyland *Edit* the end result needs to be deeply undesirable for the group, no matter how awful they are - even the most off the wall nasty murderer *playable* character will baulk at the end of all that lives in service to immortal evil as a weekend getaway *end edit*), episodic missions styled, they have to keep out from under the eyes of paladins, the town guards and reputable people who have seen the wanted posters and in the end the piece enough together they even get to save the world - or at least offer to save it, for the right price.

Necroticplague
2015-01-27, 09:53 AM
Because some people can't play evil well to save there life, and some settings make all the bad-guy examples so stupidly evil as to make even thinking about playing something related to them feel idiotic. Unfortunately, the bad examples are easier to remember than the good ones, so it tends to cloud people's perception more. There are good ways to play evil characters, even in systems without such formalized alignment (take Promethean, and you could equally say "centimani" instead of 'evil', and have the exact same argument).

Comet
2015-01-27, 10:14 AM
A more open campaign setting benefits from the main characters being a bit on the shadier side, actually. Saintly characters are often on the reactive side, only springing into action when the GM presents them with an evil plot that needs to be stopped. Greedy, power hungry or otherwise self-centered characters only need to be given a world to play in and they'll come up with more than enough trouble to fill multiple evenings of gaming. This is why some people feel that Conan makes for better tabletop gaming than Dragonlance.

Red Fel
2015-01-27, 10:45 AM
Everyone else has pretty much said it, but for me it boils down to three things: Tradition. TTRPGs, at their outset, were based on great heroic epics. The PCs were the heroes. This was the assumption. In early editions of D&D, for example, it was pretty much understood that going Evil meant going NPC. Simplicity. It is easier for the GM to write a campaign about the PCs' heroism than about their villainy. Heroes, in many ways, are reactive; there are dragons that need slaying, damsels that need rescuing, trade negotiations to be resolved, people to be smuggled off of desert planets, idols that belong in museums, etc. Villains, by contrast, are proactive; before the baddies plan their bank heists, their hijackings, or their assassinations, there is nothing in particular going on. This places a burden on a DM to come up with a world that motivates the PCs to take the lead, as opposed to one where he can dangle plot threads in front of them and let them take the bait. Conflict. Heroes don't have to be all buddy-buddy. But it is more or less understood that The Good Guys, though they may differ in opinion, may nonetheless come together for The Common Good. There is, ostensibly, a Common Good. There is no Common Bad. There is no "Guys, we need to stop these heroes on behalf of villains everywhere!" There is no "If we allow this justice to continue, villainy as we know it will cease to exist!" There is no single unifying thing that works for The Bad Guys in nearly the same way as it works for The Good Guys (with the exception of having a nemesis in common). As a result, Evil characters - unless played by smart players who specifically want to avoid it - are more readily able to fall into conflict. That's not to say that they must, or that Good characters can't; simply that it's easier for Evil characters to fall into that trap.
That said, I agree with the thread title completely: Why Good?

Bulldog Psion
2015-01-27, 11:02 AM
To some extent, I think, it's because some players really take the evil ball and run with it. And in doing so, they start having their characters do really over the top things, which in turn makes everyone else uncomfortable, which in turn makes the game less enjoyable for most of the other players. If there's a certain kind of personality in the group, things can get ugly really fast. Then other players may leave and the group may split up.

All too often, you'll run across someone who views an evil alignment as the green light to play a psychopathic serial killer. Then you start getting descriptions of exactly how they torture the innkeeper to find his money stash. And exactly how they rape his wife. And exactly how they kill the other guests in their sleep to rob them ... and on and on.

Stuff like that tends to make other people uncomfortable. I know I'd be uncomfortable as the DM setting up any encounter with "civilian" NPCs knowing that one of the players would be having their character use them as prey. Or that I'm going to have to listen to descriptions of how the character tortures a captured orc for information. Etc. etc.

That individual player may have fun for a while. But you're risking the group breaking up over it.

Having a good aligned party is a form of player control. And personally, I think there's a bigger satisfaction from a triumphal world-saving/city-saving/prince-or-princess-saving/MacGuffin-saving storyline than one that is just like Belkar killing Solt Lorkyurg over and over in different circumstances.

Theoretically, you could have an evil party achieve the same inspiring goals. But in practice, there are very few people who can pull off "villainous characters doing heroic deeds." Most of the time, it just devolves into nihilistic thuggery and petty bloodthirstiness, IMO at least.

Having a good-aligned party starts stuff off on the right foot by telling the players "you're supposed to be doing heroic deeds." It would take a group composed solely of astonishing roleplayers to create a moving and inspiring storyline with a cast of knaves, and gathering such a group is a near impossibility. If it isn't actually impossible.

Drakefall
2015-01-27, 11:14 AM
I wish that were the default character morality where I live. A good deal of the far too small gaming community round these parts seem to like to play some combination of "dark", "independent" and "wacky" characters, which more often than not translates into stupid, selfish jerk characters who are totally "deep" because they'll murder the party paladin for telling them it's bad to commit violent crimes and betray the rest of party to the demon overlord because lulz. The behavior is toxic and an unfortunate amount of those introduced to TTRPGs are shown the above as the default behavior.

I may be somewhat bitter... :smalltongue:

At any rate, the point I make is that it is sometimes related to the culture of the gaming community in question. In one area the default gaming style revolves around heroic good guy fantasy which necessarily involves a lot of heroic good guy characters, while another area may have its default gaming style revolve around modern supernatural horror and intrigue, creating a trend of morally grey characters as prominent.

Me, I like being a good guy because I was raised on Gummi Bears, Samwise Gamgee, Spiderman and countless fictional examples of heroic sacrifice, so I guess being a good guy just seems cool to me, where needless evil stuff seems lame.

Differing perspective on what is "good", "grey" and "evil" can also be a big factor. The only actual evil character I ever played for any significant amount of time was believed by everyone at the table to be neutral because while I murdered the occasional individual all of those could be described as combatants or corrupt officials, the murder of which apparently isn't evil to some people.

Also, everything that Bulldog Psion said.

YossarianLives
2015-01-27, 11:29 AM
Many players (mine included) find it much easier to just have their characters be a bunch of psychopaths running across the countryside murdering and stealing for the fun of it.

Personally I just find it very hard to role-play a massive jerk.

Mark Hall
2015-01-27, 11:44 AM
In my case, because I simply don't like playing evil.

I don't play to get away from moral decisions; I play to be able to make moral decisions that matter. I don't play because it means that I get to be an unlimited dickwad to NPCs. The consequences of my actions may be imaginary, but I still prefer to be good than evil, and even in relatively amoral games (Shadowrun, Vampire), my dislike of playing evil means I tend towards more altruistic characters.

Honest Tiefling
2015-01-27, 12:34 PM
I find it easier to sympathize and care about a PC that if not good, at least has some good intentions somewhere in there even if they are evil. If I care about the PC, then I tend to care more about the story. Yeah, I'm one of those types who wants to see something good (even if overall, the character is evil) in the protagonist. It is hard for me to get invested in a character (even more neutral ones) if I don't feel that their intentions are something I'd care about.

Jay R
2015-01-27, 12:39 PM
I have no interest in trying to entertain myself pretending to be somebody I dislike and don't respect, or pretending to do things I find contemptible.

That would not be fulfilling or rewarding.

Mark Hall
2015-01-27, 01:32 PM
There's occasional attractions to watching total bastards at work... I laughed out loud yesterday, reading Bernard Cornwell's The Empty Throne as Uthred put the screws to a Bishop with a trio of prostitutes and the Bishop's own words. But, as HT and Jay said, there's something good in the characters. While some might argue that evil characters might have that seed of good or noble in them, I'd far rather be a hero than an anti-hero, and an anti-hero than a villain.

sktarq
2015-01-27, 01:43 PM
I would dispute the good as default is the TTRPG baseline actually.

Rifts-I wouldn't real say there are "good guys" and heroes is most of the setting. Lots of villians and if you call those who oppose them heroes you have some but I wouldn't call it the default

World of Darkness-How do you deal with some monstrous aspect of your new condition is kind of the heart of World of Darkness-it is about bad and less bad in a world good doesn't survive well

Shadowrun- Default generally has you being mercenary criminals - not exactly what you would call good really.

Starwars- Sith seem rather popular but I see the idea that a heroic baseline could be seen as default.

DnD-sure do gooder heroes who randomly met at a tavern one day or who are agents of the King (and thus Law) where part of the foundational stories of the game and still influence it today. Also most of the game is culled from stories of heroic legend and they tended to be good. This probably also draws more people wanting to play heroes to this game over others.

So yeah it may be the stereotype baseline in DnD but not really TTRPG's as a whole but primarily in its most famous member

Red Fel
2015-01-27, 01:57 PM
So yeah it may be the stereotype baseline in DnD but not really TTRPG's as a whole but primarily in its most famous member

That's a fair assessment. Certainly, some games have the PCs embrace a more mercenary or morally ambiguous perspective. But let's not forget two things.

First, as you point out, D&D is the prototypical TTRPG, and probably the most widely recognized symbol of the genre. Many of the conventions of TTRPGs generally were established by D&D; many new TTRPGs describe themselves as "D&D with X" or "D&D but Y". D&D is very much the baseline against which many TTRPGs measure themselves, or are measured. And that means measuring up to D&D's baggage, which includes being steeped in a tradition of Big Shiny Heroes.

Second, I think the willingness to embrace moral ambiguity is a more modern development, relatively speaking. Yes, Shadowrun and World of Darkness are both longstanding titans in the field of TTRPGs, and they have inherent to them a sense of moral ambiguity, but they are young bucks compared with D&D. And even in a game like Shadowrun, where the PCs are hardly saints, they can at least be assured that the people from whom they're stealing are much, much worse. Even in a game like Vampire or Werewolf, where you play the stuff of nightmares, there is a thread of trying to hold onto what makes you human.

I think that many games, particularly in the age of D&D 3.0, started transitioning toward a more morally ambiguous or Evil-tolerant direction, in part because of the market. I could make observations about antiheroes and antivillains in movies and books, or general societal cynicism, but it strikes me as a more modern, recent event, prior to which the emphasis was still on the (relative) decency and humanity of the PCs.

I'm not saying that Good is the default now. I am saying, however, that it was once, and that this tradition has left its imprints even into the newest systems. Heck, find me a system where the PCs are explicitly villains (other than Kobolds Ate My Babies!) and I'll point you to the plug on the back of the book that says "Why play the hero, when you can play the villain instead?" Half of the selling point is the subversiveness of having a system that doesn't involve PCs-as-heroes. Even the systems designed for villains are inspired in part by the historic TTRPG presumption of Good.

kaoskonfety
2015-01-27, 02:41 PM
Heck, find me a system where the PCs are explicitly villains (other than Kobolds Ate My Babies!)

Kobolds are not the villains in Kobolds ate my Baby!

They are hard working folk trying to feed their people (King Torg) on pain of being fed to their people (King Torg).

If anything fills the role of villain in there its King Torg. All Hail! Or the humans who are so greedy with their offspring... or the god or Anger and Kobolds who is mostly angry about being the god of kobolds... or really the whole murderous dangerous world... or all your buddies who also want to eat you... etc. etc. etc.

TheThan
2015-01-27, 03:07 PM
Why alignment?

Just play people who make descisions at the spur of the moment based on what seems right for the character without considering the implications for an arbitrary made up system of morality?

Unfortunately alignment is an objective thing in dnd. At least it used to be. So itís really hard to just throw it out.

So I tend to think of alignments as general guidelines for characters, in addition to any mechanical situations that crop up. A Lawful good character is prone to following the rules and doing good; he may not always follow rules if he feels they are unjust or evil, but generally he doesnít go out of his way to break the rules.

This way paladins donít immediately fall when they make a slightly chaotic act. If a paladin violates his alignment/code it must be knowingly, and certainly he must have a good reason besides ďmehĒ.

Hiro Protagonest
2015-01-27, 03:15 PM
Unfortunately alignment is an objective thing in dnd. At least it used to be. So itís really hard to just throw it out.

Good thing this isn't a D&D subsection then.

TheThan
2015-01-27, 03:19 PM
Good thing this isn't a D&D subsection then.

yeah, what I'm saying is that the "throw it out" argument is sometimes nullified by the game having specific rules and objective ideas of good/evil and law/chaos.

jedipotter
2015-01-27, 03:24 PM
Why do people prefer to play Good characters? Good tends to be treated as if it were the default alignment for PCs, but I can't really see why.
Is it because it encourages roleplay, in the sense of making people think twice over the morality of their actions?

Heroes are good. If your going to play a hero, the hero needs to be good.



Evil gives you more freedom of choice... in a bad way? Or something?

Too much choice is bad. It's almost impossible to have a group game with people that have too much choice.



Would you let a new player play an Evil character, or campaign? Would you recommand it?

All the time. Yes.

gom jabbarwocky
2015-01-27, 04:06 PM
Second, I think the willingness to embrace moral ambiguity is a more modern development, relatively speaking. Yes, Shadowrun and World of Darkness are both longstanding titans in the field of TTRPGs, and they have inherent to them a sense of moral ambiguity, but they are young bucks compared with D&D. And even in a game like Shadowrun, where the PCs are hardly saints, they can at least be assured that the people from whom they're stealing are much, much worse. Even in a game like Vampire or Werewolf, where you play the stuff of nightmares, there is a thread of trying to hold onto what makes you human.

I think that many games, particularly in the age of D&D 3.0, started transitioning toward a more morally ambiguous or Evil-tolerant direction, in part because of the market. I could make observations about antiheroes and antivillains in movies and books, or general societal cynicism, but it strikes me as a more modern, recent event, prior to which the emphasis was still on the (relative) decency and humanity of the PCs.

I'll agree with this. I also think that in the vast majority of melodrama (such as the fantasy and science fiction stories from which most RPGs take inspiration) there is an emphasis on the protagonists representing the positive traits of humanity and doing battle against evil. There's basically just gussied up morality plays. So having intentionally morally ambiguous (or evil) protagonists in, say, an epic sword-and-sorcery story was essentially unheard of until the '60s and '70s (thanks, Michael Moorcock!) with the science fiction New Wave, when writers started messing around with some of the core assumptions of the format. When they were created, characters like Gandalf, Conan, and going way back, Percival and Roland, were supposed to be morally uncomplex characters in worlds where good and evil were rigidly defined. D&D wants to simulate these kinds of stories, but most players aren't interested in participating in a morality play, so these are kind of just artifacts.

Nevertheless, most players don't want to play villains for the simple reason that it's not fun to them and doesn't cultivate the same mood they want from their games. It's much more satisfying for most players to say, "Wow! What a cool, heroic character my PC is, with great friends and the respect of those who know them!" than to say, "My PC is a human piece of garbage, hated and feared by all who know them." This was the reason explained to me why, despite my persistent pitches, none of my fellow players are interested in playing in an evil game.

Red Fel
2015-01-27, 04:19 PM
"My PC is a human piece of garbage, hated and feared by all who know them."

Funny. My Evil PCs aren't human garbage, hated and feared. People love them. Love them, and despair.

Seriously, though, for me, playing Evil is the same as playing Good - it's about having a nuanced, compelling character, with depth and complexity, who interacts well with the party and contributes to the evolution of the story. I can do that as a shining champion of light or as a sinister, manipulative force of darkness.

That said, my Evil characters are rarely garish. I generally prefer my Evil to be classy, understated, nuanced. The sort of Evil you like to keep around. The definition of "the Devil you know." I like my Evil PCs to be almost trustworthy in their Evil; the other PCs, even Good ones, can rely on my Evil PCs to look out for the party's best interests, and to not jeopardize the mission. My Evil PCs don't go around randomly killing, or causing undead apocalypse scenarios, or cheesing off the wrong NPCs at the wrong time just for kicks; and if they do betray the party, it's in such a way that does not actually inconvenience the other PCs or hinder the plot. I go for emotional impact, not mechanical.

I like playing Evil, most of all, because I like showing the other side of an alignment. I don't like black and white definitions of Good and Evil, even in systems where alignment is arbitrarily defined. So I push the envelope. My Paladins have foul mouths, my Necromancers have a fondness for kittens, my Clerics of Light have an eye for the ladies, my Dark Cultists would never harm children. I like the idea that alignment is not a single, monolithic adjective, but an overall impression, and that a person - a person with layers, with virtues and vices and complexity - lives under those two letters. Evil lets me present a villain you can respect, a monster you can appreciate, a beast you might even love to hate. I like the challenge of pulling that off.

Also? That look on another player's face when you remind them that, despite the kittens and the orphans and the trust and kind words, the character is still very much on the other side of the moral event horizon. That's just delicious.

Jay R
2015-01-27, 04:30 PM
I'm sure a 40-year-old book doesn't affect many people today, but this is still where it started.

In original D&D, the rules were occasionally tilted in favor of Lawful (good) characters. For instance, 65% of magic swords were Lawful (which meant Good) and only 10% were Chaotic (which meant Evil). In Greyhawk, 60% of Wizard's Robes were Lawful; 10% were Chaotic.

mikeejimbo
2015-01-27, 04:34 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but given that the core conceit of the genre was stabbing monsters and taking their stuff, I think "good" must not have a very high bar if it's the "default" assumption. Rather than going on flimsier excuses as to why that's justified, it's sometimes better to embrace the gray.

gutza1
2015-01-27, 04:58 PM
I always play as Good. Why? Because I fundamentally enjoy roleplaying a kind and just character. I might savor destroying everything temporarily, but it's making the world a better place that truly makes my gaming experience fun. That is why I cannot enjoy settings like Warhammer 40K because there are no "good guys" I can root for. Why bother?

jedipotter
2015-01-27, 04:58 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but given that the core conceit of the genre was stabbing monsters and taking their stuff, I think "good" must not have a very high bar if it's the "default" assumption. Rather than going on flimsier excuses as to why that's justified, it's sometimes better to embrace the gray.

Not exactly, it's the times that have changed.

Good, 30-40 years ago, was not the same ''good'' as today. You don't get all the gray.

The classic example: Star Wars. Han Solo is a chaotic good rouge. When confronted in a bar by an evil bounty hunter who he knows will kill him, Han shoots first. The same way any good guy at the time would. Fast forward a couple years, and now ''good'' is all awash with gray and other stuff. So when the movie gets edited, they put in the bit where the evil bounty hunter shoots first and then Han is ''only shooting in self defense''.

hamishspence
2015-01-27, 05:00 PM
Good, 30-40 years ago, was not the same ''good'' as today. You don't get all the gray.

The classic example: Star Wars. Han Solo is a chaotic good rouge. When confronted in a bar by an evil bounty hunter who he knows will kill him, Han shoots first. The same way any good guy at the time would.

Complete Scoundrel calls Han True Neutral rather than Chaotic Good - might be a reflection of the way times change.

Mark Hall
2015-01-27, 05:17 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but given that the core conceit of the genre was stabbing monsters and taking their stuff, I think "good" must not have a very high bar if it's the "default" assumption. Rather than going on flimsier excuses as to why that's justified, it's sometimes better to embrace the gray.

I find this odd because, IME, at least, it's very seldom "Let's go find some monsters and kill them." The humanoids or monsters targeted usually pose some sort of threat to the people... they're raiding from the Caves of Chaos, threatening the Keep on the Borderlands. They're organizing under the proudly-named Temple of Elemental Evil. They see the PCs, draw weapons, and charge screaming.

It's not often that you have a group of monsters sitting there innocently, doing nothing, when the bad old adventurers come along and slaughter them for no reason. They're frequently acting the outlaw, and getting an outlaw's due.

Lord Raziere
2015-01-27, 06:07 PM
I always play as Good. Why? Because I fundamentally enjoy roleplaying a kind and just character. I might savor destroying everything temporarily, but it's making the world a better place that truly makes my gaming experience fun. That is why I cannot enjoy settings like Warhammer 40K because there are no "good guys" I can root for. Why bother?

yeah, if there is nothing of value worth fighting for, why fight? in Warhammer 40,000 your defending the darkest most evil regime imaginable from something that is only darker in that they're literally composed of the darkest parts of the former. in short your fighting to protect the things that generate and sustain the foes you fight, thats worse than useless and makes even less progress. I'm pretty sure the universe only still exists in Warhammer 40,000 because the Chaos Gods have already won and just want to torment humanity for all eternity, so they let the religious fools think that they can save humanity by believing in the Emperor hard enough and let all the people who defect to Chaos think that they're going to destroy the Imperium and bring about something new, when really they're just keeping things in eternal war so that they're fed and amused forever while everyone fights and dies thinking they might change something on either side, when really they won't change anything at all.

so there is no reason to fight in Warhammer 40,000. it will change nothing and will in fact only keep everything the same. the only way to win is to not play and escape from Warhammer 40,000 entirely to a universe that doesn't suck, or at least sucks less, even Dragon Age would be a better universe to be in, because things may suck there but at least with some hard work you can have your victories and fight for what you think is right and have a chance of succeeding. I'd love to play the Dragon Age RPG, because there while its not outright saying what is or isn't right, its still a place where one needs to fight for what is right, whatever that is against the darkness around them, and be able to succeed.

Psyren
2015-01-27, 06:24 PM
In my case, because I simply don't like playing evil.

I don't play to get away from moral decisions; I play to be able to make moral decisions that matter. I don't play because it means that I get to be an unlimited dickwad to NPCs. The consequences of my actions may be imaginary, but I still prefer to be good than evil, and even in relatively amoral games (Shadowrun, Vampire), my dislike of playing evil means I tend towards more altruistic characters.

This, especially in a group setting where the probability of at least one person being uncomfortable with the campaign grows exponentially. But even playing a CRPG alone I don't like being evil. Yeah, it's fun to occasionally do a Closed Fist or Renegade run and brutalize any NPCs that dare to cross my path - but that catharsis is temporary at best.

Hyena
2015-01-27, 06:28 PM
The funny thing is, if my Warhammer knowledge is accurate, Chaos will eventually fall. It's just the matter of how long it will take, and how much are you willing to sacrifice and still call it a victory.

gom jabbarwocky
2015-01-27, 06:32 PM
Seriously, though, for me, playing Evil is the same as playing Good - it's about having a nuanced, compelling character, with depth and complexity, who interacts well with the party and contributes to the evolution of the story. I can do that as a shining champion of light or as a sinister, manipulative force of darkness.

That said, my Evil characters are rarely garish. I generally prefer my Evil to be classy, understated, nuanced. The sort of Evil you like to keep around. The definition of "the Devil you know." I like my Evil PCs to be almost trustworthy in their Evil; the other PCs, even Good ones, can rely on my Evil PCs to look out for the party's best interests, and to not jeopardize the mission. My Evil PCs don't go around randomly killing, or causing undead apocalypse scenarios, or cheesing off the wrong NPCs at the wrong time just for kicks; and if they do betray the party, it's in such a way that does not actually inconvenience the other PCs or hinder the plot. I go for emotional impact, not mechanical.

.... I like the idea that alignment is not a single, monolithic adjective, but an overall impression, and that a person - a person with layers, with virtues and vices and complexity - lives under those two letters. Evil lets me present a villain you can respect, a monster you can appreciate, a beast you might even love to hate. I like the challenge of pulling that off.

Also? That look on another player's face when you remind them that, despite the kittens and the orphans and the trust and kind words, the character is still very much on the other side of the moral event horizon. That's just delicious.

See, that's how you do an evil PC right - bad, but in the best way possible. Like the saying, "he's a bastard, but he's our bastard." I'm thinking that you and I see eye to eye on that, but my fellow players are pretty hardline on the "you can't have 'Evil' on your character sheet!" front. At least, no evil out-and-out, and most games we play forgo alignment for the most part.

Despite what I posted before about morality plays, I do prefer my games to explore more of the complexities of morality - black and white don't really do it for me (unless it's Star Wars, where the ethics of that universe are almost literally monochrome). It's one of the many reasons why D&D isn't my jam. The alignment system in particular wouldn't be such a problem for me except where you get to Detect Evil and inanimate objects having alignments, where it's not just a short description of a character's ethics and has actual game mechanics effects. That's weird and breaks my suspension of disbelief. Also, what's the point of trying to play a nefarious character who pretends to be Good when all it takes is a little magic to look at you and determine immediately if you hold the concept of evil in your heart?

The interesting thing about playing Evil, in my experience, is that while initially it comes across that Evil is more freeing than Good, it really isn't. Not by much. Yeah, you can steal and lie and cheat and whatnot, but doing those things properly takes a lot of extra work. Good comes across as more straightforward, so for a lot of people it's just not worth the bother to be Evil (although, sloth is a vice, too....) This is why playing sinister mastermind types or charismatic villains are so rewarding - high cost, high yield.

Erik Vale
2015-01-27, 06:53 PM
Why do people prefer to play Good characters?
Because some people [like me], are altruistic at heart.
Sure, I've some tendencies that one could call evil, but I'm the helpful sort, and sometimes it's nice not having to keep certain parts of my personality in check to make sure I'm true to my alignment.

goto124
2015-01-27, 07:40 PM
I guess if I tell others my character is Evil, many people won't want to play with my char outside Evil campaigns? What about Neutral chars?

Do questions of morality come up that frequently in actual gameplay anyway?

kyoryu
2015-01-27, 07:44 PM
I don't mind shades of grey. But too often, when you say "Evil", people turn to the style of play that I like to call "taking the demon for a walk" - indulging in the kind of excesses that exist purely to be excesses.

And if people want to do that, *awesome*. For them. I have no interest in it.

Saying "no evil" acts as an awesome filter to weed out those people.

DigoDragon
2015-01-27, 08:59 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but given that the core conceit of the genre was stabbing monsters and taking their stuff, I think "good" must not have a very high bar if it's the "default" assumption. Rather than going on flimsier excuses as to why that's justified, it's sometimes better to embrace the gray.

I was going to say that my past groups tended to be Chaotic Neutral more than anything else. Sometimes with evil tendencies, but lots of gray. :smallbiggrin:

Grim Portent
2015-01-27, 09:03 PM
Why do people prefer to play Good characters? Good tends to be treated as if it were the default alignment for PCs, but I can't really see why.

I suspect it's because most people want to be the hero in the story, we want to think that we're virtuous, brave and noble even if we suspect that we might not be.


Is it because it encourages roleplay, in the sense of making people think twice over the morality of their actions? Evil gives you more freedom of choice... in a bad way? Or something?

I personally feel good discourages roleplay, it makes players either seek false justification for their actions or nitpick with each other over whether or not an act is good. Evil players tend to be more focused on if an idea is effective and if it's fun.


Would you let a new player play an Evil character, or campaign? Would you recommand it?

I'd outright suggest it, if not require it. But I run games that are near 100% sandbox. I plonk my players in a (mostly) fleshed out setting and tell them to pursue their character's agendas as they see fit and spend most of my time running the worlds reactions to their actions. I find it's a style evil is highly suited for. Things like usurping thrones, destroying holy orders and summoning dark gods are all good long term player goals.

Personally I've been sick of good since before I knew RPGs where even a thing. Every book I read as a child, every game I played, every movie or TV show. Always the good guys win and the bad guys do stupid stuff for no reason. I was weary of it by the time I was 11, and a decade later I still want to hear the story of how Sauron corrupted Numenor more than I want to know about the destruction of the One Ring.

I don't want to run or play games where princesses are rescued from dragons or barbarian hordes are held at bay, I want games where the PCs are treacherous usurpers who tear the king from his throne and murder his heirs, games where the PCs are the ravening horde that seeks to pillage and plunder in the peaceful realms of law and justice. I want blackguards and chaos marines, dragons and hitmen. I want subtle mundane evil, bombastic grandstanding villainy and corrupting malevolence.

But apparently I'm unusual in this regard.

jedipotter
2015-01-27, 09:53 PM
Complete Scoundrel calls Han True Neutral rather than Chaotic Good - might be a reflection of the way times change.

It's debatable. You can say most people fit a couple of alignments. I don't really see Han as ''neutral'' though. If that was true, he never would have joined the Rebellion.

Donnadogsoth
2015-01-27, 09:58 PM
Why do people prefer to play Good characters? Good tends to be treated as if it were the default alignment for PCs, but I can't really see why.

Is it because it encourages roleplay, in the sense of making people think twice over the morality of their actions? Evil gives you more freedom of choice... in a bad way? Or something?

Would you let a new player play an Evil character, or campaign? Would you recommand it?

Perhaps Good is the default because there is no good action that would be censored from the game-consuming participants, whereas there are a few Evil options that often are.

dps
2015-01-27, 10:10 PM
Because playing RPGs is about being someone you aren't in real life, and since most players are evil IRL, playing good characters lets them explore doing things differently.





















:smallbiggrin:

Winter_Wolf
2015-01-27, 10:17 PM
I find that a lot of people consider themselves a "good person", whatever that's supposed to mean. So they want to write "good" on their character sheet or describe their characters as "good". More often than not those same players will then go on to murder scores of creatures and NPCs in the name of being righteous. Then again, used to be almost all monsters were evil, and you knew it, so killing them was okay because "goblin" or "orc".

Personally I prefer to play neutral characters and see how they develop as the game goes on. Sometimes they end up being just despicable, sometimes they end up being actually good. Then again I work from the assumption of "what would this guy do in this situation" rather than "what would a good guy do" or "what would an evil guy do" because sometimes an otherwise nice person will straight up murder something because [reason], or a real rat bastard would show uncharacteristic compassion. Captain Evil's Jr. Stormtroopers for Orphans of War, say, because he had a terribly scary and unstable environment when he was growing up on the streets and he believes that a little structure will do wonders for these bratsówho will coincidentally probably be a lot more interested in joining his Legions of Terror than helping the murder-hobos that come trundling through now and then.

kyoryu
2015-01-27, 11:09 PM
It's debatable. You can say most people fit a couple of alignments. I don't really see Han as ''neutral'' though. If that was true, he never would have joined the Rebellion.

Alignments shift over time.


I find that a lot of people consider themselves a "good person", whatever that's supposed to mean. So they want to write "good" on their character sheet or describe their characters as "good". More often than not those same players will then go on to murder scores of creatures and NPCs in the name of being righteous. Then again, used to be almost all monsters were evil, and you knew it, so killing them was okay because "goblin" or "orc".

Agreed. In my mind, "good" requires a certain element of self-sacrifice. Giving up something, yourself, for the benefit of another with no reward.

Most people are neutral. "I'm good to my friends" means exactly nothing. People that volunteer at soup kitchens are likely to be "good" in D&D terms. The average guy that goes to work, does his job, is nice to his friends, etc? Perfectly neutral.

jedipotter
2015-01-27, 11:23 PM
I find that a lot of people consider themselves a "good person", whatever that's supposed to mean. So they want to write "good" on their character sheet or describe their characters as "good". More often than not those same players will then go on to murder scores of creatures and NPCs in the name of being righteous.

I agree this is very, very true. Good has a ton of peer pressure that forces everyone to act good in piblic and say they are good.


Most people are neutral. "I'm good to my friends" means exactly nothing. People that volunteer at soup kitchens are likely to be "good" in D&D terms. The average guy that goes to work, does his job, is nice to his friends, etc? Perfectly neutral.

Good point. The Good People are the ones who want to change the world. In D&D terms they are adventurer heroes. When something bad or evil happens, the heroes step forward to deal with it...for no other reason then they are good.

This keeps the game nice and straightforward: Good Heroes hear of evil, they go and stop it. Basic game.

Jay R
2015-01-27, 11:57 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but given that the core conceit of the genre was stabbing monsters ...

It is a measure of how much D&D players are infected by the jargon definition within the game, in place of the common English meanings, that anybody could question that killing monsters is good.

In common English, a monster is something that's, well, monstrous, not merely anything in the Monster Manual.

----------

On the main question, I'm pretending to be somebody, instead of going outside to actually *be* me. By definition, that's worth doing only if the somebody I'm pretending to be is more impressive than I am.

In idle moments, I something think about what it would be like to be richer than I am, better at sports, more successful. I don't often amuse myself by daydreaming about being poorer, slower, weaker, less successful, than I really am.

And for the same reason, I don't particularly want to pretend to be more mean-spirited, less gracious, less decent, less honorable, etc.

Svata
2015-01-28, 12:00 AM
Too much choice is bad. It's almost impossible to have a group game with people that have too much choice.


*Screams internally*

jedipotter
2015-01-28, 12:04 AM
*Screams internally*

Why? Too much choice is bad for any social activity.

Svata
2015-01-28, 12:14 AM
Amd the answer is remarkably simple. If the players don't have the choice to do as they please, why are they playing? The reason to play TTRPGs is freedom of choice, freedom to improvise, freedom to think outside the box. If you don't have that, why are you spendin the time andmoney to leave your house and drive to a friend's place when you could stay home and accomplish the same thing on a CRPG or MMO. If its just to hang out with people, sure, fine, but then you weren't getting together to play in the first place, it was just something to do while you hung out.

jedipotter
2015-01-28, 12:33 AM
Amd the answer is remarkably simple. If the players don't have the choice to do as they please, why are they playing? The reason to play TTRPGs is freedom of choice, freedom to improvise, freedom to think outside the box. If you don't have that, why are you spendin the time andmoney to leave your house and drive to a friend's place when you could stay home and accomplish the same thing on a CRPG or MMO. If its just to hang out with people, sure, fine, but then you weren't getting together to play in the first place, it was just something to do while you hung out.

Well, I said Too much Choice is bad, not all choice is bad.

Just compare Freedom Game: DM says ''wow, man, you Players are all free, do whatever you want''. Then five PC's just talk over each other and ''be free'' and don't even come close to doing anything, let alone play a RPG.

Normal game: DM: I just bought Tomb of the Lich King and your characters will go on that adventure now. Each player then gets out their character ''with no other choice'' but to play that adventure.

Svata
2015-01-28, 12:56 AM
Hyperbole!!! YAAAAYY!!!

azoetia
2015-01-28, 01:14 AM
I find playing someone completely different than me an interesting mental and social exercise. A character I play will usually have different intellect, values, suggestibility, interests, expectations, hopes, and tendencies than me. I am not an extrovert but I've played social butterflies. I am not an evil person but I have played evil characters. I've played people who I would consider annoying, boring, weak, despicable, or terrifying if I knew them in real life. I've played characters of every D&D alignment. Sometimes after I make a decision as a character I'll realize that I made a mistake and didn't take all of that character's details into account. Squaring that sort of thing begins to turn it into a puzzle that pulls me deeper into that persona.

I never play myself in games. I also never play who I wish I could be, doing things I wish I could really do. I get nothing out of that at all. The more unlike me the character is, the more difficult the exercise is, leading to a more rewarding experience.

There's nothing compelling to me about heroes at all. Characters are compelling. Being a hero or villain or something imbetween is merely incidental. Why is this character a hero or villain? That's where my interest lies.

hamishspence
2015-01-28, 02:14 AM
It's debatable. You can say most people fit a couple of alignments. I don't really see Han as ''neutral'' though. If that was true, he never would have joined the Rebellion.

He starts out as, not joining the Rebellion, but "coming to the aid of his friend" (Luke).

Only after ROTJ does he commit completely to the Rebels.

jedipotter
2015-01-28, 03:30 AM
He starts out as, not joining the Rebellion, but "coming to the aid of his friend" (Luke).

Only after ROTJ does he commit completely to the Rebels.

So, coming back for a friend is not a good act? Well, see, I'd say a True Neutral character would not have come back. There is no reason for a True Neutral character to come back.

And, granted we know nothing about Han before Star Wars. So sure he could be ''True Neutral''. But.......I still have my doubts. Does Han seem like the kind of guy who would do the ''bad'' side of neutral things? Would he sell items with the ''let the buyer beware'' type attitude? Would he cheat, or swindle or con people? And what are his limits? Are there things he ''won't do''? If so, that is more ''good'' then neutral. As soon as Han says ''I won't steal from kids or sell weapons evil killers'' he is good, not neutral.

Kiero
2015-01-28, 04:21 AM
I'd find playing a douchebag character tedious and un-fun, the challenge comes with playing someone with principles and having to negotiate their way through an imperfect world. I also find playing alongside a douchebag character tiring, why would you keep someone around who you can't trust?

Someone who's rather mercenary, materialistic or the like, but will ultimately sacrifice or compromise for their allies is fine. But actively "evil" characters, no thanks.

hamishspence
2015-01-28, 07:20 AM
So, coming back for a friend is not a good act? Well, see, I'd say a True Neutral character would not have come back. There is no reason for a True Neutral character to come back.

From the description of Neutrality:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#alignment

Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.

And the PHB goes into more detail, saying "A neutral person might sacrifice themselves for their family, their friends, or even their country, but not those they don't have a connection to".


As soon as Han says ''I won't steal from kids or sell weapons evil killers'' he is good, not neutral.

There are Lawful Evil characters out there who have compunctions like that.

Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains.

Lord Raziere
2015-01-28, 09:48 AM
I'd find playing a douchebag character tedious and un-fun, the challenge comes with playing someone with principles and having to negotiate their way through an imperfect world. I also find playing alongside a douchebag character tiring, why would you keep someone around who you can't trust?

Someone who's rather mercenary, materialistic or the like, but will ultimately sacrifice or compromise for their allies is fine. But actively "evil" characters, no thanks.

oddly enough, some of my best characters are people who were formerly evil, but have decided to try and turn over a new leaf and try to make amends for what they've done in the past. like they were once evil douchebags, but soon either got tired of it, found out the problems of being one or realized just how evil they really are and as a result are trying to go in a new direction in life, knowing exactly how bad the alternative is.

so you have a genuinely principled person trying to do their best to be good, but constantly haunted and plagued by a past of darkness of their own making and choices, as well as temptations to fall into that darkness once again, which lends a bit of depth to it, at least to me. the person knows the evil alternatives and as well exactly the reasons why you don't want to do them, because they have been there, done that and regretted it.

mikeejimbo
2015-01-28, 11:08 AM
I find this odd because, IME, at least, it's very seldom "Let's go find some monsters and kill them." The humanoids or monsters targeted usually pose some sort of threat to the people... they're raiding from the Caves of Chaos, threatening the Keep on the Borderlands. They're organizing under the proudly-named Temple of Elemental Evil. They see the PCs, draw weapons, and charge screaming.

It's not often that you have a group of monsters sitting there innocently, doing nothing, when the bad old adventurers come along and slaughter them for no reason. They're frequently acting the outlaw, and getting an outlaw's due.

And yet, the adventurers still get the benefit of taking their stuff. All those examples are what I mean by justifications. And yes, they are possibly decent reasons any good person could. But they are bound to get flimsier. To me, 'organizing' under the Temple of Elemental Evil does sound a lot like 'sitting around not having done anything yet'. Are they planning on it? Well yes. Will preemptively striking them protect a lot of people? Definitely! Does that make it good? I dunno about that. That part is a bit gray to me.



It is a measure of how much D&D players are infected by the jargon definition within the game, in place of the common English meanings, that anybody could question that killing monsters is good.

In common English, a monster is something that's, well, monstrous, not merely anything in the Monster Manual.

I suppose I should have said "other sapient beings" or put "monster" in sarcasm quotes. In real life, in common English, who gets to decide who the real monster is? Go ahead, find me an example of something that I could kill in real life that literally everyone would praise me for.

And anyway: to me, killing even truly monstrous things isn't 'good' per se. If the thing is a threat, or you're going to eat it, the act is neutral. That doesn't mean that good people can't do it! They can perform neutral acts all day, everyday, without an alignment shift. If the thing is threatening innocent people then saving them could be considered good, but that's tangental to the killing. Daring to face the danger in the first place in order to save people might also be good. But my idea of a good person would have him or her deny that the killing itself was Good, just necessary.

ORione
2015-01-28, 11:20 AM
So, coming back for a friend is not a good act? Well, see, I'd say a True Neutral character would not have come back. There is no reason for a True Neutral character to come back.

And, granted we know nothing about Han before Star Wars. So sure he could be ''True Neutral''. But.......I still have my doubts. Does Han seem like the kind of guy who would do the ''bad'' side of neutral things? Would he sell items with the ''let the buyer beware'' type attitude? Would he cheat, or swindle or con people? And what are his limits? Are there things he ''won't do''? If so, that is more ''good'' then neutral. As soon as Han says ''I won't steal from kids or sell weapons evil killers'' he is good, not neutral.

Besides what's been mentioned, Neutral characters can do Good things occasionally without shifting alignment. Evil characters can do Good things occasionally without shifting alignment.

Raimun
2015-01-28, 12:11 PM
It's more fun to be play a good natured character than it is to play an evil bastard.

Then again, I also like to play an anti-hero. That can be really intriguing. You know, the guy who fights the evil empire (and crime!), saves countless lives and puts his life on the line to do all this but is willing to do all this by any means necessary. Assassination. Lying. Stealing. Fighting dirty. Cheating. Ignoring the rules. Even... aggressive interrogation but only if there's no other way. All for revenge... uh, I mean to topple the evil empire. Yeah. And for the people, of course.

One thing: people always forget that there is room for moral ambiguity in D&D-Alignment. That room is called True Neutral. Or possibly Lawful Neutral or Chaotic Neutral but True Neutral lets you get away with more dramatic swings without breaking or switching Alignment than any other alternative.
Basically, if you play D&D but don't agree to the Alignment system, play True Neutral and choose for yourself. People in-universe do that too. Just like there's no "I" in the team, there's no "objective morality" in True Neutral.

Siosilvar
2015-01-28, 01:36 PM
Regarding Han: It's really hard to see him as anything but Chaotic Neutral (or maybe even Evil) slowly shifting towards Good. The guy is a smuggler, a mercenary, and (at least during most of Ep. IV) only really cares about himself and Chewbacca. He's relentlessly pragmatic and not even a little idealistic. He shoots first (in the original version, anyway). He refuses to rescue Leia until Luke convinces him that he'll be rewarded. The script mentions the whole "Kessel Run" line as "obvious misinformation".

"Look, I ain't in this for your revolution, and I'm not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money."

Over the course of the trilogy we see him becoming more heroic. He comes back for Luke and the Rebellion at the end of ANH (still Neutral, but definitely a Good act), willingly risks his life in the cold to save Luke at the start of ESB (undeniably a Good act - since the most likely result of that was both of them dying), and he becomes a general and goes down to Endor for the Rebellion.

But with the character we see on screen, I have a hard time believing that Han starts A New Hope anywhere north of Neutral. And with the amount of time Leia spends telling him off for it, Lucas clearly intended for that effect (and later changed his mind and made Greedo shoot first, but that's another rant).

Jay R
2015-01-28, 02:13 PM
In real life, in common English, who gets to decide who the real monster is? Go ahead, find me an example of something that I could kill in real life that literally everyone would praise me for.

Is this supposed to be difficult?

Rats.
Cockroaches.
Mosquitoes.
Smallpox virus.
Wolves and Coyotes in cattle country.
Rattlesnake in a schoolyard (Yes, I'll capture and relocate it if I have the equipment at hand, but with kids around, I won't go looking for equipment.)

mikeejimbo
2015-01-28, 02:30 PM
Is this supposed to be difficult?

Rats.
Cockroaches.
Mosquitoes.
Smallpox virus.
Wolves and Coyotes in cattle country.
Rattlesnake in a schoolyard (Yes, I'll capture and relocate it if I have the equipment at hand, but with kids around, I won't go looking for equipment.)

Other than perhaps smallpox viruses I don't think anyone would praise me at all for killing any of those. Thank me, perhaps, because it rid them of a threat or pest. But for the most part all of those fall into the category of "those are things that just need to be done", and I would say are neutral, not good. Heck, I know people who would complain about killing wolves and coyote in cattle country because in their view we shouldn't even be raising cattle in the first place.

It's not like anyone goes around thinking that they're good for killing that rat/cockroach/mosquito, it's just something that happens in the everyday struggle for survival. I don't think those things quite fit the definition of 'monster', either.

Kiero
2015-01-28, 02:58 PM
Other than perhaps smallpox viruses I don't think anyone would praise me at all for killing any of those. Thank me, perhaps, because it rid them of a threat or pest. But for the most part all of those fall into the category of "those are things that just need to be done", and I would say are neutral, not good. Heck, I know people who would complain about killing wolves and coyote in cattle country because in their view we shouldn't even be raising cattle in the first place.

It's not like anyone goes around thinking that they're good for killing that rat/cockroach/mosquito, it's just something that happens in the everyday struggle for survival. I don't think those things quite fit the definition of 'monster', either.

A mosquito might bite me or my family, and as well as causing discomfort could infect us with a disease too. They're monsters.

mikeejimbo
2015-01-28, 03:04 PM
A mosquito might bite me or my family, and as well as causing discomfort could infect us with a disease too. They're monsters.

I think people are being overly pendantic with semantics, here. I'm just trying to say that that doesn't even mean that killing them is good. It's neutral. Again, a good person could kill a million mosquitoes and it wouldn't affect his alignment. But at the same time, an evil person could kill a million mosquitoes and not become good for it.

Psyren
2015-01-28, 09:00 PM
And yet, the adventurers still get the benefit of taking their stuff.

The assumption behind Good looting is always either "so they can take on bigger evils later" or "so they can empower future generations to follow in their footsteps." By NPC standards, literally any adventurer could retire at level 5 or so, if they wanted to, but CRs/threats don't stop there, so they keep going.

The non-good alignments keep going too obviously, but there is plenty of altruistic reason to be a career adventurer and collect the spoils.


I think people are being overly pendantic with semantics, here. I'm just trying to say that that doesn't even mean that killing them is good. It's neutral. Again, a good person could kill a million mosquitoes and it wouldn't affect his alignment. But at the same time, an evil person could kill a million mosquitoes and not become good for it.

That's because good is measured by sacrifice, not bodycount. Killing a million anything isn't good. But killing one tiger can be good, if you risk your life to do it by grabbing your bowie knife and throwing yourself between it and a child.

Pex
2015-01-28, 10:06 PM
The corollary question is how often do players play Lawful Good without having to. "Having to" is to mean, in D&D, playing a Paladin, a cleric of a LG deity, or monk in a game everyone must be Good. Who plays a Lawful Good Fighter, Wizard, or Rogue? I've seen it done but quite rarely. How about Ranger or Sorcerer? I find most often when people play Good it's either Neutral or Chaotic unless the class demands Lawful.

Citrakayah
2015-01-28, 10:30 PM
At least for me, part of roleplaying is letting the character become an extension of myself, so to speak. And I can't comprehend evil that easily--the notion of hurting others to such a degree to advance oneself seems almost insane, because it implies that you have a much greater worth than those other people, and I find that idea completely incoherent.

Of course, I'm a hardened utilitarian, so my definition of "good" is much broader than most people. Dungeons and Dragons is a world in which violence is frequently the most practical method of stopping evil people from doing evil, so even people who, IRL, would be the most vile sociopaths could be good-aligned.


Funny. My Evil PCs aren't human garbage, hated and feared. People love them. Love them, and despair.

Seriously, though, for me, playing Evil is the same as playing Good - it's about having a nuanced, compelling character, with depth and complexity, who interacts well with the party and contributes to the evolution of the story. I can do that as a shining champion of light or as a sinister, manipulative force of darkness.

That said, my Evil characters are rarely garish. I generally prefer my Evil to be classy, understated, nuanced. The sort of Evil you like to keep around. The definition of "the Devil you know." I like my Evil PCs to be almost trustworthy in their Evil; the other PCs, even Good ones, can rely on my Evil PCs to look out for the party's best interests, and to not jeopardize the mission. My Evil PCs don't go around randomly killing, or causing undead apocalypse scenarios, or cheesing off the wrong NPCs at the wrong time just for kicks; and if they do betray the party, it's in such a way that does not actually inconvenience the other PCs or hinder the plot. I go for emotional impact, not mechanical.

I like playing Evil, most of all, because I like showing the other side of an alignment. I don't like black and white definitions of Good and Evil, even in systems where alignment is arbitrarily defined. So I push the envelope. My Paladins have foul mouths, my Necromancers have a fondness for kittens, my Clerics of Light have an eye for the ladies, my Dark Cultists would never harm children. I like the idea that alignment is not a single, monolithic adjective, but an overall impression, and that a person - a person with layers, with virtues and vices and complexity - lives under those two letters. Evil lets me present a villain you can respect, a monster you can appreciate, a beast you might even love to hate. I like the challenge of pulling that off.

Also? That look on another player's face when you remind them that, despite the kittens and the orphans and the trust and kind words, the character is still very much on the other side of the moral event horizon. That's just delicious.

So... what do they do that's evil, exactly?

goto124
2015-01-28, 10:44 PM
The corollary question is how often to players play Lawful Good without having to. "Having to" is to mean, in D&D, playing a Paladin, a cleric of a LG deity, or monk in a game everyone must be Good. Who plays a Lawful Good Fighter, Wizard, or Rogue? I've seen it done but quite rarely. How about Ranger or Sorcerer? I find most often when people play Good it's either Neutral or Chaotic unless the class demands Lawful.

I thought it was the other way round- people who want to play LG go with paladins/clerics/monks.

I get your point though, and I guess the answer lies with all those threads arguing if a paladin should Fall for doing action X or Y. LG is very restrictive and difficult to RP. Heck, I have a character who has paladin powers but isn't a paladin in the traditional 'code of god' sense, and probably isn't Lawful. I like freedom in roleplay, dammit.

How do DMs and players view Neutral characters? Do they see them similar to Evil chars, with a lot of potential for misuse?

Citrakayah
2015-01-28, 10:46 PM
I thought it was the other way round- people who want to play LG go with paladins/clerics/monks.

I get your point though, and I guess the answer lies with all those threads arguing if a paladin should Fall for doing action X or Y. LG is very restrictive and difficult to RP. Heck, I have a character who has paladin powers but isn't a paladin in the traditional 'code of god' sense, and probably isn't Lawful. I like freedom in roleplay, dammit.

How do DMs and players view Neutral characters? Do they see them similar to Evil chars, with a lot of potential for misuse?

I tend to view neutral characters as people who are either good or evil but simply aren't very good at it.

goto124
2015-01-28, 10:47 PM
'I'm good, but not very Good at it.'

Pun.

Arbane
2015-01-29, 12:07 AM
I'll agree with this. I also think that in the vast majority of melodrama (such as the fantasy and science fiction stories from which most RPGs take inspiration) there is an emphasis on the protagonists representing the positive traits of humanity and doing battle against evil. There's basically just gussied up morality plays. So having intentionally morally ambiguous (or evil) protagonists in, say, an epic sword-and-sorcery story was essentially unheard of until the '60s and '70s (thanks, Michael Moorcock!) with the science fiction New Wave, when writers started messing around with some of the core assumptions of the format. When they were created, characters like Gandalf, Conan, and going way back, Percival and Roland, were supposed to be morally uncomplex characters in worlds where good and evil were rigidly defined.

Nitpick mode activated: I would hesitate to call Conan 'morally uncomplicated'. Guy was a bandit and a pirate at various points in his life, and I'm sure the people he killed didn't think him virtuous. It's just that Howard mostly wrote about him fighting people much worse.



Nevertheless, most players don't want to play villains for the simple reason that it's not fun to them and doesn't cultivate the same mood they want from their games. It's much more satisfying for most players to say, "Wow! What a cool, heroic character my PC is, with great friends and the respect of those who know them!" than to say, "My PC is a human piece of garbage, hated and feared by all who know them." This was the reason explained to me why, despite my persistent pitches, none of my fellow players are interested in playing in an evil game.

I don't think I've ever played an evil character in a tabletop RPG. I've enjoyed roleplaying in City of Villains, but that's comic book evil. Death-rays and fighting superheros, not trying to turn the game into a kitten-eating competition.

And even there, I wished I had an option to punch Westin Phipps right in the face.

Esprit15
2015-01-29, 06:24 AM
Because many games demand a more altruistic character. It's the same reason Lawful is popular. Loyalties to an organization or a populace make for easier plot hooks, and tend to be more common in Lawful and Good people.

Personally, I try to run the gamut of alignments. Just flashing back through a few characters I have played (PTx, so no formalized alignment system): CG Fire Breather, CE Psychic, LG Martial Artist, TN Elementalist, LE Kinetic, NG Aura User.

One thing I notice is that I will often base characters off of specific aspects of my personality: the CG Fire Breather was generally pragmatic and altruistic, things that at the time were high on what I considered virtues. The Evil characters were meanwhile based more on the suppressed desire to lash out at people, and so creating people who didn't have that mental restriction, but went about it rashly or methodically, for the CE and LE, respectively. LG Martial Artist was very strong about one's duty, but at the same time remembering to remember that they do their duty to protect others, not because it is good in its own right.

I wonder if I'm an abnormality in that regard, or if many people go through similar thought processes when character building. It would explain why we have a tendency towards good, since TTRPGs allow us to be far more extreme than we would otherwise be, both good and evil, and most people would rather focus on the good portions of their psyche.

***

I would say that Evil can be well done. Revenge gone too far is a fun idea to play with ("They killed my whole town. I'll make them pay, every last one of them!"), and Evil by circumstance is rather common for games where characters work for an evil organization ("Boss said they need to die, and I'd really like a full stomach next month. A job's a job.")

Red Fel
2015-01-29, 08:18 AM
So... what do they do that's evil, exactly?

Generally? "What's necessary." That is, the stuff that Good characters can't do, won't do, or feel uncomfortable doing, but is - from a darker perspective - necessary to ensure the success of their mission. That can range from killing people the heroes have spared to prevent them coming back for revenge or alerting their allies, to torturing people for information, to liaising with the scum of the earth and beyond - the general stuff that makes those possessed of moral rectitude clench their sphincters in discomfort.

And on occasion, I have a little fun with it. My favorite is what I call "Disproportionate Deterrent." Let's say, for example, that an NPC hurt my PC's friends. I don't mean just striking them in combat. I mean hurt them emotionally - killed a loved one, abducted someone, made them question their whole value system. Really hurt them.

My PC's response would probably be to kidnap and torture that person. Then to kidnap his friends and family and, when that NPC isn't being tortured, torture them in front of him. Maybe give him the choice of whether he or his loved ones get tortured that day, and sometimes grant his request, and sometimes ignore it, just to mess with him. Then to periodically bring him mementos of places from his past - the signpost from the town where he grew up, a branch from the tree under which he kissed his first crush - and tell him what I did there before reducing it all to dust. After I've tortured and killed everyone about whom he cares, and destroyed every vestige of his past and his memories... I let him go, broken and hollow. As a warning to anyone who would hurt my friends.

And then the other PCs remember that the guy who smiles and pets kittens isn't really all that nice.

Citrakayah
2015-01-29, 08:30 AM
Generally? "What's necessary." That is, the stuff that Good characters can't do, won't do, or feel uncomfortable doing, but is - from a darker perspective - necessary to ensure the success of their mission. That can range from killing people the heroes have spared to prevent them coming back for revenge or alerting their allies, to torturing people for information, to liaising with the scum of the earth and beyond - the general stuff that makes those possessed of moral rectitude clench their sphincters in discomfort.

Generally speaking, I don't consider that evil. For an upcoming campaign I made someone who murdered their lover after they killed his uncle in a demonic ritual, then disguised himself as his dead lover, stuck sleeping powder in the cult's food, and slit their throats in the middle of the night.

He's Neutral Good.


And on occasion, I have a little fun with it. My favorite is what I call "Disproportionate Deterrent." Let's say, for example, that an NPC hurt my PC's friends. I don't mean just striking them in combat. I mean hurt them emotionally - killed a loved one, abducted someone, made them question their whole value system. Really hurt them.

My PC's response would probably be to kidnap and torture that person. Then to kidnap his friends and family and, when that NPC isn't being tortured, torture them in front of him. Maybe give him the choice of whether he or his loved ones get tortured that day, and sometimes grant his request, and sometimes ignore it, just to mess with him. Then to periodically bring him mementos of places from his past - the signpost from the town where he grew up, a branch from the tree under which he kissed his first crush - and tell him what I did there before reducing it all to dust. After I've tortured and killed everyone about whom he cares, and destroyed every vestige of his past and his memories... I let him go, broken and hollow. As a warning to anyone who would hurt my friends.

And then the other PCs remember that the guy who smiles and pets kittens isn't really all that nice.

Okay, that fits as evil.

Red Fel
2015-01-29, 09:29 AM
Generally speaking, I don't consider that evil. For an upcoming campaign I made someone who murdered their lover after they killed his uncle in a demonic ritual, then disguised himself as his dead lover, stuck sleeping powder in the cult's food, and slit their throats in the middle of the night.

He's Neutral Good.

Well, see, that's the thing. In some systems, you'd be right. Good can be ambiguous; sometimes, we do morally questionable things for the greater good, and in some systems, that's fine.

In a system like D&D, where there is objective morality, that is Not Okay. There are Lines Good Does Not Cross. That's part of what defines Good. One of my favorite examples is from an episode of Buffy entitled "The Gift".

The following takes place between Giles, Buffy's mentor, and Ben, the host to an evil immortal demigoddess (Glory). Buffy just beat the crap out of Glory, causing the demigoddess to recede back inside of Ben to recover; Buffy then left the injured (but alive) Ben to address another threat.
Ben: She could've killed me.

Giles: No, she couldn't. Never. And, sooner or later, Glory will reemerge and make Buffy pay for that mercy. And the world with her. Buffy even knows that, and still she couldn't take a human life. She's a hero, you see. She's not like us.

Ben: Us?
At which point Giles suffocates Ben, and by extension Glory, to death.
Giles is making the point that Buffy is a D&D-style "objective Good" hero - there are things she cannot morally do, even though they might make things easier for everyone. She can't kill an innocent to stop a monster. She won't resort to torture to get what she wants, or needs. That's true in an objective morality system - Good can't do these things.

But Evil that's sympathetic to Good characters? Evil can do these things all the time. Evil can enjoy it.


Okay, that fits as evil.

I know, right?

Svata
2015-01-29, 09:37 AM
Well, see, that's the thing. In some systems, you'd be right. Good can be ambiguous; sometimes, we do morally questionable things for the greater good, and in some systems, that's fine.

In a system like D&D, where there is objective morality, that is Not Okay. There are Lines Good Does Not Cross. That's part of what defines Good. One of my favorite examples is from an episode of Buffy entitled "The Gift".

The following takes place between Giles, Buffy's mentor, and Ben, the host to an evil immortal demigoddess (Glory). Buffy just beat the crap out of Glory, causing the demigoddess to recede back inside of Ben to recover; Buffy then left the injured (but alive) Ben to address another threat.
At which point Giles suffocates Ben, and by extension Glory, to death.
Giles is making the point that Buffy is a D&D-style "objective Good" hero - there are things she cannot morally do, even though they might make things easier for everyone. She can't kill an innocent to stop a monster. She won't resort to torture to get what she wants, or needs. That's true in an objective morality system - Good can't do these things.

But Evil that's sympathetic to Good characters? Evil can do these things all the time. Evil can enjoy it.


Red Fel, you are a horrible, despicable excuse for a person. I like your style.

mikeejimbo
2015-01-29, 09:57 AM
That's because good is measured by sacrifice, not bodycount. Killing a million anything isn't good. But killing one tiger can be good, if you risk your life to do it by grabbing your bowie knife and throwing yourself between it and a child.

Arggh!! That is exactly what I was saying when I said in an earlier that the killing wasn't the good part, but the bravery in facing the monster in the first place. That's my very point! Good isn't measured by body count but sometimes you have to kill something. The situations in which it's 'good' to do so can get progressively more gray in how 'good' it really is, so sometimes it's better to embrace the gray area! It's easier in a system without alignments of course, because then you don't have to say "Is my character good for burning the fields of my enemy's army even if some of the food is also going to civilians?" You just do it.

Mark Hall
2015-01-29, 11:50 AM
The corollary question is how often do players play Lawful Good without having to. "Having to" is to mean, in D&D, playing a Paladin, a cleric of a LG deity, or monk in a game everyone must be Good. Who plays a Lawful Good Fighter, Wizard, or Rogue? I've seen it done but quite rarely. How about Ranger or Sorcerer? I find most often when people play Good it's either Neutral or Chaotic unless the class demands Lawful.

Indeed. I can't think of any LG Fighters. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0490.html) :smallbiggrin:

Seriously, though, I've played LG several times without it being necessary for my class. LG Ranger, LG Ranger/Rogue, LG Psychic Warrior. If I haven't done wizard or sorcerer, it's because I'm more likely to play a bard than either of those (I like skill points)... and in another game, I've played LG Bards.

I think people tend towards NG or CG because they're "easier". Lawful Good means making hard choices about how to be Lawful while still being Good. Neutral Good avoids those by simply worrying about Good, and Chaotic tends to get a free pass... it's in-character for Chaotic people to act lawfully when it suits them, but it's not as in-character for a Lawful person to act chaotic when it suits them.

Hiro Protagonest
2015-01-29, 12:42 PM
In a system like D&D, where there is objective morality, that is Not Okay. There are Lines Good Does Not Cross. That's part of what defines Good.

Whenever I think of something like this, two words come to mind: Grey Guard.

Since Grey Guard is specifically for paladins, I assume that non-paladin non-exalted good characters can also act like Grey Guards.

Jay R
2015-01-29, 01:05 PM
We are all affected by our life's experiences. Here's my formative D&D experience.

In the first session of my first campaign game, I was playing a first level paladin in original D&D with only the first supplement Greyhawk. The party ranged from 1st to 5th level, was entirely Lawful (which meant Good).

My paladin couldn't afford a sword, and was wielding a mace.

After several encounters, a couple levels down in the dungeon, we were all down to 3 or fewer hit points. (Remember, in this game, 0 hit points is dead.) My paladin had a single hit point left.

The treasure we had just found included a sword, which the paladin asked for. He received the right to pick it up. Unfortunately, it was a high-ego chaotic sword, and the first thing that should happen when my paladin touched it is that he should have received 2d6 points of damage, which would have killed the character. The DM made a few rolls behind the screen, and then wrote and handed me a note.

"This Chaotic sword has changed your alignment. You are now chaotic, and holding a chaotic Flaming Sword."

OK, I came to the game intending to play a Paladin, but Iím now playing an evil character. So I wanted to play it correctly, even though an evil character was not the goal.

His most immediate threat was being surrounded by an all-Lawful part that would kill him if they knew. I thought for a moment, and asked to speak to the DM privately. When we got into the other room, I told him, "I don't have any questions for you. I just want them to believe you gave me more information than the note had." I told him my plan, we waited a couple more minutes, and then we walked back in.

My (ex-)paladin told the group, "This is a Holy Sword with a quest I have to take on alone. I need you to go back the way you came. It's important that you do as I ask. Go back single file, and no matter what you hear, DON'T LOOK BACK."

Of course the five characters trusted my "paladin", and did as he asked. My chaotic ex-paladin came up and stabbed each one in the back. Several times the DM said, "You hear a stab behind you, and a body slumping." "We don't look back." After five times, he told them that they were all dead.

So yes, I successful killed the entire rest of the party, took all their stuff, and was quite rich. Iím not apologizing Ė it was the safest thing my character could do, quite possibly the only way he could have survived the day, and a really clever spur-of-the-moment plan.

But I didnít enjoy it. Today, forty years later, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Yes, I know that PvP isnít the only way to play evil. But at that moment, it seemed the only way to survive when surrounded by an all-Lawful party that had already killed more than one encounter because they were evil.

Since then, Iíve tried playing evil characters that didnít betray the party. And pretty soon, my character is defending the innocent, because in that situation, thatís what I want to do.

I donít want to play evil. I just donít want to.

goto124
2015-01-29, 06:35 PM
Indeed. I can't think of any LG Fighters. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0490.html) :smallbiggrin:


But Roy isn't a PC. He's a storybook character. Behind him, is one writer who controls the entire world. Not a player trying to have fun in another person's setting. Entirely different circumstances.

Edit: In response to the below post, I think you missed the point. Novels and Tabletops have different considerations. Look at V, who every once a while is seperated from the party and made essentially useless. For a story it works. But a tabletop? V's player would be sitting around wondering what to do, barring stuff such as V's player being busy IRL, or playing another character. Tabletops are games, they have to keep the players interested. Novels don't have this sort of thing.

It's veering off-topic admittingly.



I agree with NG and CG being 'easier' though.

Mark Hall
2015-01-29, 06:51 PM
But Roy isn't a PC. He's a storybook character. Behind him, is one writer who controls the entire world. Not a player trying to have fun in another person's setting. Entirely different circumstances.

I agree with NG and CG being 'easier' though.

While not a PC, he's easily someone who could be a PC; he doesn't have any particularly special attributes that make him some ordained hero. He's just a LG fighter with a backstory.

Psyren
2015-01-29, 06:59 PM
But Roy isn't a PC. He's a storybook character. Behind him, is one writer who controls the entire world. Not a player trying to have fun in another person's setting. Entirely different circumstances.

I agree with NG and CG being 'easier' though.

Er, if anything PCs have it easier. Any PC Fighter, for instance, can pick up Warblade without it being a "PhD Program" :smalltongue:

Jay R
2015-01-29, 10:23 PM
The corollary question is how often do players play Lawful Good without having to. "Having to" is to mean, in D&D, playing a Paladin, a cleric of a LG deity, or monk in a game everyone must be Good. Who plays a Lawful Good Fighter, Wizard, or Rogue? I've seen it done but quite rarely. How about Ranger or Sorcerer? I find most often when people play Good it's either Neutral or Chaotic unless the class demands Lawful.

In Dirk's 2E game, we had a LG wizard and fighter. In Wil's 1E game we have an LG fighter. In my 2E game we have an LG wizard. In my last oD&D game we had three L (which meant G) fighters and 1 L wizard, People do this all the time.

It's only in 3E or later that they became uncommon. I could speculate why, but my pro-old-school biases would keep that analysis from being very useful. But the observed fact remains. In the games I've played, LG was much more common pre-3E.

SiuiS
2015-01-30, 03:50 AM
I'm baffled and a touched worried about why being morally upright as a standard is being questioned. <__<


In Dirk's 2E game, we had a LG wizard and fighter. In Wil's 1E game we have an LG fighter. In my 2E game we have an LG wizard. In my last oD&D game we had three L (which meant G) fighters and 1 L wizard, People do this all the time.

It's only in 3E or later that they became uncommon. I could speculate why, but my pro-old-school biases would keep that analysis from being very useful. But the observed fact remains. In the games I've played, LG was much more common pre-3E.

The stick in the mud archetype, and a slow shift in what lawful means. People hear lawful good, they think Ned flanders, not Andy Griffith.

I always liked the lawful good types because of their nature rather than class. I've had paladins who were paladins second, lawful good first, and I prefer it that way; the default decision nowadays if as a paladin you fall from grace, is to switch teams immediately and get cool powers. I haven't seen anyone bear their decision with grace in decades, and that saddens me; the fallen paladin who was an exemplar of human behavior to the very end, despite having violated their code once, was a darned awesome character type. Noble because that's how they were, not that's how they earned their powers.

Jayabalard
2015-01-30, 10:46 AM
So, coming back for a friend is not a good act?
He starts off episode IV only worried about his self-interest (What's in it for me?). By the end of the movie he's taking some pretty serious risks for a friend, but isn't committed to anything larger. By the end of episode VI, he's thrown his support totally in with the rebellion, supporting something larger than himself, or his friends.

So that's a good act... just not as good as his acts later on.

kyoryu
2015-01-30, 03:46 PM
I tend to view neutral characters as people who are either good or evil but simply aren't very good at it.

I really see Neutral (on the Good/Evil scale) as about self-interest, but not to the point of harming others.

A Good character will sacrifice of themself for others. Neutral doesn't (or doesn't in any significant degree).

An Evil character will sacrifice others for their own benefit. Neutral doesn't - they act in self interest, and can look for the "win win", and may engage in honest competition, but they aren't likely to steal, kill, engage in banditry, etc.

You know, the way most people actually act in real life.

hamishspence
2015-01-30, 04:16 PM
That fits fairly well. Neutral characters might make sacrifices for loved ones, or friends, or possibly nation in battle - but they're not likely to make a real sacrifice for a stranger that they have no emotional connection to - it will nearly always be a trade instead.

If you want a Neutral character who does consistently make personal sacrifices for strangers - you'd probably have to give them some Evil traits to balance this mile-wide altruistic streak.

At which point, the character might seem like they're "Good, but not very good at it" - as mentioned.

kyoryu
2015-01-31, 12:08 AM
He starts off episode IV only worried about his self-interest (What's in it for me?). By the end of the movie he's taking some pretty serious risks for a friend, but isn't committed to anything larger. By the end of episode VI, he's thrown his support totally in with the rebellion, supporting something larger than himself, or his friends.

So that's a good act... just not as good as his acts later on.

Absolutely. Han definitely drifts from Neutral to Good (in D&D terms) over the trilogy.

Cyber Punk
2015-02-07, 12:26 PM
Well, as for me:

I like playing evil characters in such a setting. To me, alignment means little, it's a guideline at best. I make them evil according to their character and personality. I believe badly written/badly played evil characters are usually evil for the sake of being evil, but in reality almost all evil people don't see themselves as evil. They might do questionable things, they may know on some level that their way of life is wrong, but they never admit it to themselves.

But then, I probably like playing dark characters because I consume a lot of grimdark media, and in video games, I automatically play the good guy on the first playthrough, unless I make a very conscious effort not to.

Mr.Moron
2015-02-07, 06:31 PM
The real world can be bleak enough. I don't need to be spending my limited free time with a bunch of imaginary amoral *******s.

Same reason you'll never find me watching something like "Breaking Bad" or "Game of Thrones".

Cyber Punk
2015-02-07, 07:03 PM
Eh, each to his own.

To be clear, when I say grimdark stuff, I don't mean grimdark for the sake of being gritty. I just prefer more mature-themed works. There's a balance, though. I enjoy Breaking Bad (the little I've seen, I'd really really love to watch the whole series) the same way I enjoyed How I Met Your Mother (I watched all seasons religiously).

Still, IRL I don't have it in me to be evil. I believe in The Golden Rule and all.

BrokenChord
2015-02-08, 01:31 AM
As a person who primarily plays Ars Magica, true goodness is something that's both annoying to play and doesn't make a lick of sense in-setting. Ars Magica's setting is the kind of place where being a truly good person would get you labeled as a disgusting, amoral, dim-witted freak. Then again, it's hardly fair to expect anything else... After all, the setting is 1220s Europe. Nice job, reality, you blow most imaginary settings out of the moral water.

Now, while you can't be full-on good, you can reasonably be morally superior to the majority of your peers. But unless you're a magus, that results in an uncomfortable and probably short life, if you're a noble or churchman you'll probably be labelled a softy, and if you're a magus... Well, being a good person is easy, but it's also time-consuming and most people have a natural inclination towards hating you so it's not like many people will appreciate it unless you try really hard to draw their attention to it, so it probably isn't worth suffering mechanically for the wasted time unless it cements friendly relations with somebody real important.

Combined with the fact that the closest thing to alignment in that game is your Reputation as good or bad by society's standards, and it's easier to secure a good rep through politics than actual goodness, well... "Why good?" is a fine question indeed.

goto124
2015-02-08, 02:04 AM
Ars Magica sounds an awful lot like reality, and another gsme I used to play that really attempted (and suceeded at) realism. I myself won't want to play it.

One reason to be Good in a Tabletop, could be that you get to be a Holy All-Good Warrior and do heroic things without the (social) limits of reality, as you've described rather nicely.

BrokenChord
2015-02-08, 02:10 AM
It isn't reality, but rather a game trying to emulate what people thought was reality (or at least folklorized reality to be) back then. At any rate, don't play it if you don't want. I'm providing an example, not advertising :smalltongue:

Winter_Wolf
2015-02-08, 08:27 PM
*snipped*

Still, IRL I don't have it in me to be evil. I believe in The Golden Rule and all.

Is that the one that goes, "They who have the gold, make all the rules"? :smallwink:


Okay, I'm aware of what you are actually referring to, but considering my feelings towards gold, and rules in general, I figure 'they' really could have come up with something better to sell the idea.

Dimers
2015-02-09, 06:35 AM
in video games, I automatically play the good guy on the first playthrough, unless I make a very conscious effort not to.

I don't suppose you ever played Bully?

Sometimes I like to play good alignment because it's more of a challenge than pragmatism would be. Not usually, though; I don't generally like much challenge in my games. Most of the time I play Good, it's simply due to the party composition and/or plot hooks of whatever game I'm joining.

Cyber Punk
2015-02-09, 12:46 PM
Oh. Yeah. Except Bully, Prototype and GTA. Those pretty much call for wanton destruction.

There are exceptions, though. In Mass Effect, for instance, I loved the Renegade options. My Shepard ended up 3/4 Paragon and 1/4 Renegade by ME3.

When it comes to stealth games, that depends, though. I go nonlethal in Splinter Cell, but in Watch_Dogs I find it easier to just shoot them in the head with a silenced pistol.

MonochromeTiger
2015-02-09, 04:06 PM
As someone who plays primarily evil characters I actually have a few different answers to this question. The first and simplest is of course the one that has already been given multiple times in this topic "good is the iconic alignment for several RPGs". When the game itself has an expectation that you will play a valiant hero or at least a semi-heroic scoundrel of some kind players often feel it natural to just go with that expectation.

The second reason is equally simple but more social in nature. Look at these forums and notice how many player horror stories involve someone equating an evil character to a mindless murderer with no line drawn between the "stab" and "do not stab" portions of their thought process. Evil has a reputation for being, well, evil. Most individuals get a very black and white view of morality that places evil and absolutely crazy together as if they were meant for each other and should never be separated. as such the very idea of an evil character in the group is anathema to most groups because "they'll go crazy and stab everyone".

The third reason is actually a partial combination of the first two. Playing evil is weird to people and every other group will tell you it's just an excuse to kill the rest of the group off, so most people just drop it instead of putting any thought into the possibilities. Red fel is a good example of someone who actually thinks their evil characters through, they are more than some crazed axe murderer who will wind up dieing to either an upset group or guards. They can make friends, they can have goals that don't involve "destroy the world mwuahahaha" in them, and They can go out in public without breaking every law around just to tick off the guards. Sadly red fel is also an exception from the majority as, outside of some individuals or groups all attempts to play a semi-rational evil character are abandoned somewhere between hearing the horror stories and realizing that having the character live for more than a day requires more thought than "kill the guy with detect evil first".

Xyk
2015-02-10, 11:11 AM
In my experience, evil parties have always gone one specific way:

Player: "I kill the commoner"
DM: "Why?"
P: "I'm evil, it's what my character would do."
DM: "You're evil, not psychotic."
P: "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!"
DM: "*sigh* okay, the guards come running"

Next inevitably comes a GTA style standoff. I always ban evil characters from the start, and when players go chaotic neutral (but played as chaotic evil) it's easy to kill them off using nothing but consequences of their own actions without disrupting the rest of the party.

Synovia
2015-02-10, 11:30 AM
All too often, you'll run across someone who views an evil alignment as the green light to play a psychopathic serial killer. Then you start getting descriptions of exactly how they torture the innkeeper to find his money stash. And exactly how they rape his wife. And exactly how they kill the other guests in their sleep to rob them ... and on and on.
.

And then you describe how the town guards burst in on them the next day, and subdue the player, and then how hes tried and executed. Or how they're hunted the entire rest of the campaign by parties of good aligned, powerful NPCs looking for the bounty money. Or how they're barred from every town in the region because of their reputation.

The biggest problem with 'evil' campaigns/players/etc, is that DMs are almost never willing to have realistic consequences. Good campaigns are easier.

Knaight
2015-02-10, 12:42 PM
And then you describe how the town guards burst in on them the next day, and subdue the player, and then how hes tried and executed. Or how they're hunted the entire rest of the campaign by parties of good aligned, powerful NPCs looking for the bounty money. Or how they're barred from every town in the region because of their reputation.

The biggest problem with 'evil' campaigns/players/etc, is that DMs are almost never willing to have realistic consequences. Good campaigns are easier.

Or you just shoot that down to begin with. Even if the campaign has realistic consequences, everyone at the table was still just subjected to a bunch of graphic and gratuitous descriptions of horrible things. It's better to just head that off.

That's not to say that evil characters are bad, just that they should be carefully considered. If you're thinking of playing an evil character because playing a murderous psychopath just lets you kill things all the time and bring in dark fantasies, don't. If you're thinking of playing an evil character because you want to explore the psychology of dangerous extremists, there are campaigns where that is reasonably well fitting.

Frozen_Feet
2015-02-10, 02:07 PM
I'm baffled and a touched worried about why being morally upright as a standard is being questioned. <__<


Well I'm baffled that people consider it a standard in the first place, as in my experience, new players drift towards playing antisocial murderhobos as surely as young children torture ants with a magnifying glass. One reason might be that my first experience with TRPGs was Cyberpunk, and that first adventure ended with my character forced into prostitution and my bro's character having to shovel **** literally until he fell down and drowned in it. My first experience with CRPGs was with the Exile series, by Spiderweb Software, where it's blatantly clear the PCs are social misfits and outcasts even when they're also the heroes.

Jay R
2015-02-11, 08:44 PM
That's not to say that evil characters are bad,...

Yes, they are. That's what "evil" means.

goto124
2015-02-11, 08:51 PM
Erm, not that kind of in-universe bad.

Bad as in 'causes un-fun for the players at the table'.

Knaight
2015-02-11, 08:55 PM
Yes, they are. That's what "evil" means.

The context is in the sense of applicability to the role they are in (evil characters can work for an RPG and be interesting), not morality. Obviously evil characters are bad people.

goto124
2015-02-11, 09:06 PM
I read that as 'obviously evil characters' are 'bad people'. Was confused for a while.

MonochromeTiger
2015-02-11, 09:19 PM
The context is in the sense of applicability to the role they are in (evil characters can work for an RPG and be interesting), not morality. Obviously evil characters are bad people.

I wouldn't even say that. Obviously evil characters are hilariously short lived unless everything in the game from PCs to NPCs is willing to put up with them rather than, say, cutting them in half. But that still goes back to people confusing "evil" with "crazy and stupid and unable to have emotional attachments that don't end in gross/awkward". Even obviously evil characters can potentially be interesting characters if done right.

Example: evil character 1, EC1 to keep it short, and evil character 2, EC2, are in an otherwise good aligned group trying to kill some world ending threat. EC1 is there because he is not in fact stupid enough to think that just because he's evil a world ending plot will not affect him, EC2 is there because "well I met these guys in a bar with my new character, lol evulz". Both are obviously evil characters, they will do things others consider horrible when they feel it necessary but EC1 will keep it to situations where it's the most valid and efficient method of dealing with a threat to the group as a whole and will give his reasons and justifications if asked. EC2 still thinking in terms of "lol evulz" will instead go on murdering sprees whenever he can, start fights over loot he wants, and never give a reason beyond an out of character "but I'm evil it's what my character would do". EC1 lives to the end because he was smart enough to not go out of his way to aggravate the entire group of good aligned individuals with weapons and kept his focus on dealing with the real threat, EC2 dies a short while into the campaign because he contributed nothing but a bit of damage, a terrible reputation for the adventurers, a large bounty on their heads, and an ornate palanquin made out of the bones of orphans and puppies.

Note that despite both evil characters in that example being capable of obvious evil one of them was acting like they have a tiny bit of self preservation and the other was acting like the stereotypical "my alignment says evil" PC. Note that one can contribute and help a good aligned group while still doing so for completely selfish reasons while the other had absolutely no reason to be in the group in the first place. And the funny thing is I can substitute EC2's alignment with chaotic anything and it will still be possible to find a horror story of someone who plays that way.

But by all means continue having people treat evil as stupid it gives my group something to smugly laugh at.

Red Fel
2015-02-11, 10:49 PM
The context is in the sense of applicability to the role they are in (evil characters can work for an RPG and be interesting), not morality. Obviously evil characters are bad people.

Well, yes and no. Evil characters are bad people, in many ways. But that's under an objective view of morality. They can also be good people in some ways. That's what moral complexity is for. The villain who wants to annihilate the world in order to create a more peaceful one, and has created a shelter for the outcasts and victims of society to live through the cataclysm safely. The swordsman who kills on behalf of fiends, because they are the only ones who will protect his precious person. The ruthless pragmatist who does stomach-turning things because it's the only way to ensure that his heroic (if idealistic) allies succeed. They do bad things, and are in many ways bad people; but they also have noble hearts, and admirable goals, and are in some ways good people.


But by all means continue having people treat evil as stupid it gives my group something to smugly laugh at.

I like this one. :smallamused:

Knaight
2015-02-12, 12:13 AM
I read that as 'obviously evil characters' are 'bad people'. Was confused for a while.

You appear to not be the only one. To clear that up:

It is obvious that evil characters are bad people. The extent to which their evil is obvious has a lot less to do with the extent to which they are bad people and a lot more to do with how much they can reasonably expect to get away with.

MonochromeTiger
2015-02-12, 12:29 AM
You appear to not be the only one. To clear that up:

It is obvious that evil characters are bad people. The extent to which their evil is obvious has a lot less to do with the extent to which they are bad people and a lot more to do with how much they can reasonably expect to get away with.

Oh no, I understood the first time I just used the wording for a different point and in response to those that did misunderstand. In response to your actual meaning I agree with red fel in that it's very subjective whether or not they're "bad" people. Really that response just felt obvious enough that someone pointing out its subjective nature was inevitable and I didn't want to drown the page in even more ranting on my part.

Need_A_Life
2015-02-12, 05:44 AM
Screw Good and Evil; there's so much more to playing an agenda.

I don't care if it's helping to rebuild a nation ravaged by a century-long war, mastering necromancy or getting filthy rich, but your goal should tell you a lot more about how you're going to play than some broad alignment label.

I've played a Neutral Evil character in D&D who was as outraged over a senseless murder as the party paladin - being a greedy, sadistic opportunistic coward didn't mean I condoned killing someone just because they might not be entirely straight with us right off the bat - and was one of the more trustworthy members of the party.

It's one of the reasons I prefer approaches like oWoD when it comes to morality mechanics; with Paths/Roads/whatever representing radically different moral codes and the number only representing how low you're willing to go to get what you want before you start feeling guilty about it, things feel more natural.
One of the more enjoyable alternate Roads to Humanity I've played was Road of the Beast; it was interesting to play a character where killing wasn't even considered a moral issue, but torture - and by extension, needlessly painful deaths - was and one of the more difficult moral struggles was whether to back down from an argument that would have been trivial for someone following the Road of Humanity.

Now, for the sake of clarity, I think character agendas should always be at the forefront and only then one should consider what they're willing to do to achieve it, using any morality mechanics the game system offers if appropriate to inform that.

From a storytelling perspective, whether you're running for a "Good" group or an "Evil" one only gives you a clue as to how to present the hook.

Necroticplague
2015-02-12, 06:44 AM
Honestly, I default to playing Evil or Neutral characters for the freedom provided. I've never really heard any complaints about an Evil character committing a Good act, while the opposite does tend to generate complaints. Plus, it's easier to justify out-of alignment actions based on in-alignment reasons.

Of course, on a similar note, I think alignment should be more based on why you do something than what you do. After all, saving a person's life because you'd want someone to save you in that situation, and saving someone because it means they now owe you a big favor have different moral connotations.

Tengu_temp
2015-02-12, 03:03 PM
I play good because, most of the time, I want to like my character and for it to be cool. And someone who is good and heroic, who will protect the innocent and do the right thing for no reason other than it's the right thing to do, is so much more likable and so much cooler than a morally ambigious edgemaster.

Good does not stop you from being smart. Good does not stop you from having an agenda. Good does not stop you from using stealth and deception. But what good does is make you someone who, in real life, others would look up to. Someone who makes life better for others. A neutral character only cares for himself and his friends while an evil one won't hesitate to harm innocents for profit - but a good one actually is a hero.

I think this is something that comes with age, or at least emotional age. When you're (emotionally) 14, you think the noble paladin in shining armor is boring while the backstabbing drow assassin is the best **** ever. When you're 28, it's more like the other way around.

Grim Portent
2015-02-12, 05:53 PM
I think this is something that comes with age, or at least emotional age. When you're (emotionally) 14, you think the noble paladin in shining armor is boring while the backstabbing drow assassin is the best **** ever. When you're 28, it's more like the other way around.

I've seen rather the opposite trend. The younger RPers I've seen want to play noble characters, not necessarily knights in shining armour, but still people out killing bad guys and saving the day and they tend to find the idea of hurting innocents uncomfortable.

The older RPers tend to be more open to minor evil acts like killing civilians or torture, or using evil magic.

There are some exceptions to this, but the immature evil players tend to be the ones interested in a goofy comedic game rather than a serious one.

Personally I've found myself growing ever more interested in evil as I got older, I remember thinking things like noble sky pirates and generous wizards were cool when I was younger, but gradually I've found myself more and more jaded and less interested in the 'hero saves the day' type of story. Pretty much every book I read or movie I saw had the heroes win against cartoonish bad guys, with the occasional well written villain sprinkled throughout, and it just got incredibly dull, and as time progressed I found myself less interested in how the latest dark lord gets cast down and more interested in how he got there.

Red Fel
2015-02-12, 11:09 PM
I've seen rather the opposite trend. The younger RPers I've seen want to play noble characters, not necessarily knights in shining armour, but still people out killing bad guys and saving the day and they tend to find the idea of hurting innocents uncomfortable.

The older RPers tend to be more open to minor evil acts like killing civilians or torture, or using evil magic.

There are some exceptions to this, but the immature evil players tend to be the ones interested in a goofy comedic game rather than a serious one.

Quite a lot of this.

I'd actually like to offer a perspective that's a bit of synthesis between Grim's point and Tengu's. It's not that playing Good is the mark of emotional maturity, nor playing Evil. It's not that the emotionally immature enjoy two-dimensional shining knights or stupidly, cartoonishly Evil characters. It's that emotional maturity tends to enable a player to create characters of moral depth and complexity, regardless of alignment. And, conversely, perhaps emotional immaturity makes it harder; the juvenile player might make a two-dimensionally Good or Evil character simply due to a lack of personal development or experience.

That's not to say a more emotionally mature player can't play some silly flat character who's a walking gag. I've done it, it's a great stress vent to do something absurd and over-the-top. (A paranoid psychic midget in a one-shot session who constantly changed his name remains one of my favorite characters to date.) But perhaps, with age and maturity comes the ability to recognize that Good and Evil constitute a spectrum, not a pair of poles, and that no character is - or should be - purely one or the other. My Good characters tend to have vices, my Evil characters virtues; it makes them interesting and nuanced, I feel.

I don't need to play a backstabbing Drow or a great hero; I just want to play a well-written, engrossing, and fascinating character. I can only satisfy my desire for a truly immersive game by creating a character that has depth and complexity. Someone who is good and heroic is nice, but if that's all he is, he's not a person to me, he's just an archetype; I need to know that he has failings and weaknesses, like any person. Similarly, someone who is scheming and villainous and mustache-twirling is simply a caricature; I need there to be purpose, thought, and emotion underneath that cape.

That's why I like Evil. Most of the time, I find that Good characters tend to get, well, more Good. If I make a Good character with baggage, or scars, or vices, at some point there will be a redemption plot. And I can't fault a GM for doing that - it's smart, using the characters to fuel their own stories. But at some point, organically, this character will be faced with a choice that will allow him to overcome his past and emerge a better person, and generally, that character will make the right choice. My character running away from his past will face that past, confront his sins and become stronger; my character who broke his vow will return to make amends; my character who committed atrocities will find the survivors and beg forgiveness. That's what heroes do; they set right what went wrong, especially when they put it wrong. The defining sins and vices get washed away.

My Evil characters don't have to have that. They don't need redemption. They can grow, and change, and develop as people, and stay just as wicked as always. Redemption, moral improvement, isn't a mandate for them. My Evil characters can face their past with no (or few) regrets, can break their vows and promise only to do it again, can face their victims and not need to apologize. That's part of their elegance; they truly embrace themselves as they are, not in some idealized sense. Some of them may grow in a moral sense, some of them may embrace redemption after all, but the important thing is that it's not mandatory. There's a certain freedom there, not having to climb that spiral staircase, not having to throw away the bad completely.