How to Play an Evil Character without Messing Up the Party
“So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”
We love the bad guys in movies and TV shows – and well done bad guys can make or break a book, movie or show. However – when it comes to playing an RPG – many people advise steering clear of the moustache twirling villains in order to have a party that actually get’s something done. Here we'll tackle how to play an Evil character in any sort of party.
What is evil?
“I’ll have puppies with a side of kittens for breakfast! And don’t forget to kick the orphans this morning – come to think of it, they look a bit plump, are you feeding them AGAIN?”
We all have a variety of actions, phrases and people we would associate with “Evil” – but in our increasingly moral relativistic world – it is hard to define evil – especially in an RPG.
Dungeons and Dragons defines evil as:
Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master.
This is a simple statement, and does not actively provide an adequate framework for playing an evil character with any depth.
However, since most fantasy games take place in some variant of the middle ages, I suggest we base evil on the prevalent moral compasses of the time – the Roman Catholic Church, Greek Philosophy and Islam.
Roman Catholic Definition of Evil
The Roman Catholic Church, during the middle ages, defines evil as the following:
Evil : Sin, as distinct from physical evil, which is some form of suffering. It is evil because it is contrary to the will of God; it is moral evil because it is caused by a free created will acting against the law of God, who does not want moral evil as an end or as a means. – Catholic Culture Questions
In literal layman’s terms, this can be summed up as this – “Physical evil is suffering, moral evil is anything contrary to the will of God.”
If one were to simply overlay this onto a fantasy setting, one could combine this with the predefined good deities of the D&D world in order to create a framework for what is evil – doing that which is contrary to the will of the good god which a character claims to follow.
Greek Philosophical Definition of Evil
Aristotle, whose research and philosophical findings are the basics of most Western moral teachings and thoughts, defines evil as a privation – or lack of something. So, whereas the Catholic Church defined evil as something distinctly in conflict with the will of God, Aristotle defines evil as simply the lack of good.