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DMing for an evil party

Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User regular
edited October 2006 in Critical Failures
I have just agreed to DM an AD&D campaign for 3-4 people. I asked them in advance what kind of characters they'd like to play, and the general alignment of the party is neutral, tending towards lawful evil.
I've never DMed for an evil group before, and I'm a little stuck for how to design the campaign. I've got a few ideas floating around - cursed swords and sold souls and rampaging paladins - and I'm going to have each of them turn in a preliminary character history well in advance, with clearly defined goals, past contacts and enemies, and an XP bonus for useable plot hooks and the like, so I have material to work with, but I'm not overly confident I'll be able to string it together in a convincing manner.
The party will be starting at 2nd level. The current line up, which may change, consists of a dextrous fighter, a sorcerer, an assassin, and an undecided role from the guy who might not be playing. I don't forsee any trouble with keeping them working together, I'm more worried about motivating them and constructing suitable adventures. A lot of the ideas I do have are more suitable for when they hit the middle levels then for the beginning of the campaign.
Any tips or ideas to help me out would be welcome.

Aroused Bull on

Posts

  • Burnt out mageBurnt out mage Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    How about they have all without knowing it icurred the wrath of a crime lord or organisation a la "The Usual Suspects". For example the assassin may have been payed to kill a local merchant by one of his buisness rivals but it later turns out that the merchant was an important fence for this crime syndicate, know they figure the assassin owes them a big favour and has to do a few missions for them to make up for it, also be sure to threaten the one thing they might still care about family, partners etc with horrible fates if they don't comply.

    You can start of with some low level crime gang based missions, extortion, gathering information for blackmail, eliminating a troublesome police officer with more complex and important missions come as they progress from lowly enforcer to trusted liuetenant.

    Finally some ideas for ending this plot arc so they can strike out into something new.

    The party realise they are never going to fully repay their debt and are going to be stuck working for the organisation untill they die or the guild kills them off for knowing too much and growing to powerful ( drop hints that this is what happened to the groups predecessors ) time to do something about it before its too late.

    The sorceror slowly realises the items and books they have been stealing are all related to a shadowy cult worshiping a ancient demon, further investigation suggests the orginisations is attempting to revive the demon which will surely destroy the entire town at least, even if the characters are leaning more towards the evil end of the alignment scale they realise they can't let this happen even if they no longer care for the town they don't for a moment think their superiors will order the demon to spare them.

    Burnt out mage on
  • DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Hm. Sounds like a mostly urban campaign to me.

    You could easily have a large evil merchant guild thingie going on (Iron Throne in Baldur's Gate) hiring the party for assassination, shady jobs or backup or whatever. It'd also give them the opportunity to amass power for themselves later on if they try to climb the "corporate" ladder. Backstabbing included.

    Once the players have proven to be more than just disposable muscle they'd get the benefits of legal protection seeing as how the guild would obviously be "pillars of the community" type.

    Nothing would be sweeter than getting away with murder even tho your arch-enemy paladin knows you're all evil but can't prove anything.

    Of course he might get all vigilante on your asses giving up paladinhood and trying to hunt you down by himself... hrm... well you get the idea. :P


    Also, that demon thing sounds kinda good. In the earlier levels I suppose it could work with some sort of "this one last line that we won't cross" type of deal. No murdering kids for example might work. Ask them to give you a couple of things they wouldn't do even if they're evil.

    If you can get them to work with their goody goody enemies in a scenario like that you'll be my new hero. :)

    DeepQantas on
    m~
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited October 2006
    They have to continuously stop halflings from destroying magic rings?

    But srsly, have them be a part of an observent society where, to blend, they have to construct "cover identities" with real jobs and lives in society. When they have "cover wives" and "cover kids" and "cover neighbors" you can start to constantly tempt them with upward moral decay by offering them the chance to do the right thing and lose those evil powers.

    Have a monolithic evil or good power come into the region and they have to choose between the status quo or choosing a side in the coming war.

    Have them find a map, to a dungeon, and see if their alignment changes their quest.

    In a society where many people can detect evil just by looking - a truly evil group would face unique challenges.

    JohnnyCache on
  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    In most of my settings, know alignment doesn't exist and detect evil only works for extreme cases, and I definitely think that this game will follow that pattern. As I understand it, this party won't be summon-the-demon-destroy-the-world evil, more look-out-for-ourselves-work-for-the-highest-bidder-stab-the-other-in-the-back evil, so the demon thing is good and the list of lines they won't cross will be handy.
    I like the suggestions of evil organisations; I was thinking of having them start off embroiled in intrigue, getting involved with some organisation with a connection to one or more of their pasts, and an evil merchants' guild, crime syndicate, or a combination of the two could work well there. Later they can move out to broader pastures.

    One of the ideas I'm toying with is getting the party to sell their souls to a devil for power or in order to overcome some adversary, then, later, feeling the infernal fires licking at their heels, come to regret it and spend the rest of the campaign trying to get them back. It would require campaigning up until the point where they're around mid-level and have some mighty goody opponent they need to defeat, and enough of a pinch to make it a sure thing they'll take the offer to sell. I may well scrap the idea entirely if it's unfeasible.

    Aroused Bull on
  • DeVryGuyDeVryGuy Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Remember, most of the time the only difference between an evil character and a good character are how they go about things. While 'killin and pilligin' might be fun, it'd be more interesting if your evil characters thought they were doing the right thing, but in a brutal way. After all that group of knights running around administering the King's justice is corrupt and arrogant, the people will be much better off once you unseat them from power by any means necessary.

    DeVryGuy on
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  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    One of my favourite campaigns was a light-hearted evil campaign where the players were sent on a mission by the Dark Lord of All That Is Really Awful and Dark to corrupt and conquer a small kingdom. I mapped out the general area of the kingdom, and went into detail with the starting town and its environs and populace, and then just let the players loose. With that open-ended kind of approach, you can just design stuff every session, according to whichever direction they're going at the end of the last session.

    Evil Multifarious on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2006
    fascinating stuff, guys. This is a dillema that I've been thinking about a lot, as my players have been talking about this sort of adventure for a while, but Ive steered away from as I don't have any experience with it.

    Rankenphile on
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  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    My favorite techniques for evil characters (and my friends /always/ want to play evil) is:

    -make one character super evil who manipulates the party to his own ends: "What do you mean fred is the dark lord of the Sith?"

    -the characters are part of or form some sort of organization, whether corrupting temples to dark Gods, or forming an evil band of mercenaries hell bent on gaining wealth and power through whatever means necessary. Fun with management and deflecting vengeful paladins

    -A greater evil must be banded together to fight against. Yada yada: shit comet.

    -I like your demon idea.

    -Finally, something I did that only lasted three sessions but was fun as hell: Accidental Goodguys, where they're all evil sick marauders, but they keep doing things that make everything good on accident: For example, they attack and unseat the local religious authority. Then a new bishop moves in, and spreads the good word to more people as a result. The party torches the farm of some poor farmers with a sick child; inthe rubble, the farmers find a hidden cache of money, move to the city, and pay to have the child healed. That one was pretty fun.

    With evil characters, its pretty easy to keep them in line: I'll pay you if you go do [adventure hook] for me. Don't fuck it up or you don't get paid. I generally have them killing the quest giver afterwards like this is Morrowind or some crap, so when they spend the next two sessions stuck in the forest, they might clean up their act if they're particularly bloodthirsty, but that doesn't sound like a problem so no worries there.

    piL on
  • KarilmatKarilmat Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    One idea that I've had rolling around for awhile for an evil campaign is that in the country/world/wherever, being evil is itself punishable by death. Therefore, evil adventurers in this world have a very strong reason to band together and not screw over each other since they don't want to draw attention to themselves. Evil PC's also need to fly a bit under the radar since it's pretty easy to determine if someone is evil with magic.

    What also could make this fun is to award style points if the PC's complete some evil task while making themselves look like heroes. For example, if they can convince everyone in a village that the mayor the party killed was somehow corrupted and out to kill everyone, not only did they accomplish their goal, but they now look "less evil". It sort of allows for a level of intrigue/manipulation/etc. that a good party wouldn't have to do.

    Karilmat on
  • nialscorvanialscorva Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    jdarksun wrote:
    Instead of trying to piece together riddles and attempt reconciliation between warring factions of different creatures, they're as likely to commit genocide against resident populations as they are to politely knock on a door and ask to use the bathroom, or attempt to subvert the local authority and place themselves as the new gods (the party is highly chaotic, and probably the most fun I've ever had DMing).

    Hey, we left those goblins with an advanced space program and civic improvements celebrating Zot's voyage! I'm sure that the Talking Box of Wonder That Thinks It's a Gnome inspired generations of those same goblins to adventure and greatness, as well.

    We're a community service oriented Chaotic Neutral/Evil party.

    nialscorva on
  • randombattlerandombattle Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    jdarksun wrote:
    I'm currently running a party of evil characters through the World's Largest Dungeon, and the best single piece of advice I can give a DM thinking about running an evil campaign is to be ready to improvise. Additionally, you're probably going to want to lay out ground rules beforehand; will the players be allowed to attack each other (consider this carefully)? Do you want to limit the amount of "evil" the players can engage in - ie, do you want to draw a line where you skip over the unseemly details of various activities? Do you need to make sure that you won't offend or upset anyone?

    To give you a few examples of stuff I've run into in my campaign, first and foremost the group has pretty much rejected the "intended play style" of WLD. Instead of trying to piece together riddles and attempt reconciliation between warring factions of different creatures, they're as likely to commit genocide against resident populations as they are to politely knock on a door and ask to use the bathroom, or attempt to subvert the local authority and place themselves as the new gods (the party is highly chaotic, and probably the most fun I've ever had DMing).

    Going hand-in-hand with being able to improvise is needing to know your source material. If you're not creating everything from scratch, odds are certain things are geared towards good-aligned characters. I gave one of the party members a "Rod of Corruption", that allowed them to subvert good-aligned rewards, objectives, and outsiders.

    Yeah being able to improvise with the source material is extremely valuable in doing a campaign that like that. But it's not much of a big advantage if you arn't able to figure out what the players are likely to do in a situation. If you can improvise well enough and have a decent understanding of the players you shouldn't run into any real problems at all.

    Another thing I would advise would be to have a decent number of good and evil orginizations so there is a large pool of potential enemies and problems for the party to deal with.

    randombattle on
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  • DisruptorX2DisruptorX2 Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    I've said it before, but I'm completely in the camp of "detect evil and protection from evil only work on outsiders". People do not have alignments, only their actions do. It completely eliminates the problems of those spells in a campaign. Its kind of silly to have evildar, anyway.

    DisruptorX2 on
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  • PkmoutlPkmoutl Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    If the PC's are playing evil characters, you really shouldn't make any big changes to what you are doing. It is up to them to play their characters according to alignment.

    This is one of the things I absolutely hate about alignments. Everyone has a fucking apeshit whenever you bring up evil characters. I've had parties with mixed alignments that worked out just fine. It's not that an evil character is automatically going to kill a good character or vice-versa. Anyone who plays those kinds of idiot knee-jerk reaction games really needs to find themselves another hobby.

    My advice is not to change anything. The trick is, if they are evil, they won't do a job just "in the service of the King" or whatever, they'll do it more for personal interests. It also will depend on the kind of evil characters they play. Remember that to a certain extent, a Lawful Evil will tend to agree more with a Lawful Good than a Chaotic Evil. The methods of the Lawful Good and the Lawful Evil or the end goals will just be different.

    Pkmoutl on
  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Pkmoutl wrote:
    My advice is not to change anything. The trick is, if they are evil, they won't do a job just "in the service of the King" or whatever, they'll do it more for personal interests.
    That's my concern. If I set up a standard save-the-town type adventure, there's a good chance they won't accept. They'll have to have paying employers. I also want to take the opportunity to run a slightly less archetypal game, and base it around things the player's characters would be interested in rather than just paying them to do the same sort of quests good characters undertake, so that more fun can be had all around.

    Aroused Bull on
  • KarilmatKarilmat Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Pkmoutl wrote:
    My advice is not to change anything. The trick is, if they are evil, they won't do a job just "in the service of the King" or whatever, they'll do it more for personal interests.
    That's my concern. If I set up a standard save-the-town type adventure, there's a good chance they won't accept. They'll have to have paying employers. I also want to take the opportunity to run a slightly less archetypal game, and base it around things the player's characters would be interested in rather than just paying them to do the same sort of quests good characters undertake, so that more fun can be had all around.

    The obvious "evil" quests would be:

    Assassination - The trick to this is that the PC's can't be identified since unlike a good party killing a bad guy, most folks won't be down with this

    Theft - Again, can't be seen

    Kidnapping - Taking someone alive and transporting them can be much harder than killing them

    Instead of saving the world, the PC's can be figuring out a way that they can either profit from whatever is going to go down, or just figure out a way to save themselves, or even interfere with a traditional "good" party that's trying to save everyone.

    They can be part of a bandit group, raiding villages while avoiding the adventurers coming to stop them.

    Stuff like that. They can still do the goody-goody stuff, but it will cost more for them to do it.

    Karilmat on
  • DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    I've said it before, but I'm completely in the camp of "detect evil and protection from evil only work on outsiders". People do not have alignments, only their actions do. It completely eliminates the problems of those spells in a campaign. Its kind of silly to have evildar, anyway.
    Hm. I'd totally have Detect Evil in an urban adventure. The fact that PCs can blend in, the good guys won't know PCs from any other evil city-dwellers and that there's laws against random acts of violence goes a long way towards protecting an evil party.

    The city just needs to be large (read: corrupt) enough not to be ruled by a handful of paladins and good clerics. The problems with Zone of Truth being used in court would also go away if the people in power have enough things they want to keep hidden.

    Of course the good (or "good") guys can still use those spells if they ignore the law, but that's just more fun isn't it? What's a little kidnapping and torture between friends?

    And Protection from Evil? That's more of a combat spell. No reason to do away with that. It doesn't get people hanged.


    Detect evil would still be dangerous in wilderness encounters. A party with a good cleric encountering your heavily armed band of vicious evil-alignmenters... well... He has no proof, but you're probably just another group of bandits.

    You better hope he believes people can change and you deserve a chance and all that stuff.


    Anyways, 3.5 DMG has some good reading regarding urban adventures around page 98.

    DeepQantas on
    m~
  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Pkmoutl wrote:
    It's not that an evil character is automatically going to kill a good character or vice-versa. Anyone who plays those kinds of idiot knee-jerk reaction games really needs to find themselves another hobby.

    I kill detect/know alignment in games because of this. It's hard to imagine a world that hasn't developed a panopticon of sorts, punishing/imprisoning/treating all who are evil until everyone is scared not to be good. Paradoxical, but so is the alternative. And if you question the motive of punishing those who get detected, just detect the punishers. If they're fine, it must be a good thing. :) In otherwords, why not instantly deal justice to evil if you can tell they're evil (unless that was against your moral code, but still...) Someone said something about alignment detection only detecting things like demons or whatnot. I liked that.

    People tend to just ignore it for game purposes though :)

    piL on
  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    DeepQantas wrote:
    Anyways, 3.5 DMG has some good reading regarding urban adventures around page 98.
    I don't have that, only older editions, but I can spruce up a pretty good city adventure on demand, in my own opinion. I've already drawn half the map for a fair-sized city.

    Aroused Bull on
  • PkmoutlPkmoutl Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    piL wrote:
    Pkmoutl wrote:
    It's not that an evil character is automatically going to kill a good character or vice-versa. Anyone who plays those kinds of idiot knee-jerk reaction games really needs to find themselves another hobby.

    I kill detect/know alignment in games because of this. It's hard to imagine a world that hasn't developed a panopticon of sorts, punishing/imprisoning/treating all who are evil until everyone is scared not to be good. Paradoxical, but so is the alternative. And if you question the motive of punishing those who get detected, just detect the punishers. If they're fine, it must be a good thing. :) In otherwords, why not instantly deal justice to evil if you can tell they're evil (unless that was against your moral code, but still...) Someone said something about alignment detection only detecting things like demons or whatnot. I liked that.

    People tend to just ignore it for game purposes though :)

    The thing is, if you have someone playing a Lawful Good character and they meet an evil character, unless that character is doing something overtly evil, like killing babies or raping livestock or something like that, then they have no reason to harm them. Anyone who says different doesn't understand the meaning of Lawful or Good.

    In our old campaign, we had as our front line fighters a Paladin and a Neutral Evil Half-Orc Bard/Fighter. The Paladin never attacked the Half-Orc because he never really did anything overtly evil in his presence. They were actually the best of friends by the end of the campaign, and the Orc stood over the body of the Paladin to protect him when he was nearly killed during a fight with a dragon. An evil dragon, I might add.

    The only time I think I can think of when a character would attack another just based on Alignment alone would be if the character was Chaotic Evil. That's the only time someone should be allowed to do something like that. Even a Neutral Evil or a Chaotic Good wouldn't do something like that.

    I generally leave Know Alignment and Detect Alignment and all that open and free to whoever wants or gets it. Mainly because I make it clear that overtly stupid things like attacking someone just because you knew they were of an Evil alignment means that you are no longer Lawful Good, since you just acted completely out of alignment. Good bye all you nice Paladin abilities! Now you're a fucking fighter, pal. Hope you had a good ride.

    That and any idiot who takes a shitload of Know Alignment spells instead of something useful gets exactly what they deserve. "Oh man, I didn't take that spell today. I took all these Know Alignment spells instead!" Oh well, tough titty. You just fucked yourself and it isn't my concern.

    Then again, I'm kind of a strict DM. I don't mollycoddle my players. They aren't there to survive everything miraculously, they are there to go on an adventure that they may or may not come back from.

    Most of you would probably hate my house rules. All 8 pages of them.

    Pkmoutl on
  • DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    piL wrote:
    Pkmoutl wrote:
    It's not that an evil character is automatically going to kill a good character or vice-versa. Anyone who plays those kinds of idiot knee-jerk reaction games really needs to find themselves another hobby.

    I kill detect/know alignment in games because of this. It's hard to imagine a world that hasn't developed a panopticon of sorts, punishing/imprisoning/treating all who are evil until everyone is scared not to be good. Paradoxical, but so is the alternative. And if you question the motive of punishing those who get detected, just detect the punishers. If they're fine, it must be a good thing. :) In otherwords, why not instantly deal justice to evil if you can tell they're evil (unless that was against your moral code, but still...) Someone said something about alignment detection only detecting things like demons or whatnot. I liked that.

    People tend to just ignore it for game purposes though :)
    Just make people who kill people for no other reason evil. In D&D good and evil aren't subjective. They're defined by the DM. If someone thinks he's doing good by murdering people then the simple answer is that he's delusional.

    Also... chaotic. So there's definitely no excuse for the misuse of evildar for paladins.

    The good-est thing you could do with Detect Evil would be finding the evil people and somehow convincing them to change their ways voluntarily. Or you know... crap like that.


    Mind you, monsters are usually an exception, but that's because they're *dangerous*. In general killing dangerous things is neutral. Leaning towards good if you're risking yourself to protect some innocent people.

    That's just so the players don't always need to do a moral assessment or wait for the other guys to attack first before applying the sharp objects upon their foes.

    If the party gets to know Fred the Goblin better and he's pretty much harmless then killing Fred would be evil.

    DeepQantas on
    m~
  • Vincent GraysonVincent Grayson Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
    edited October 2006
    The evil campaign I've been a part of for years started out with both myself and the other player having plot-justified artifacts (which, at the time, were suppressed and thus non-functional).

    The entire campaign thus far (we're about level 18 now) has revolved around our character's lust for power (seeking to re-empower these artifacts, and build a base of control...early on, we took over a small town that was having some undead problems (little did they know who was making those undead), and trying to keep said artifacts away from far more lawful/divine creatures/minions seeking to destroy them.

    You might try something like that, as it opens up your campaign for lots of non-traditional fights against lawful and or good creatures, without resorting having your characters just arbitrarily attacking people (as seems to happen sometimes in evil games)

    Vincent Grayson on
  • alternatingAberrationalternatingAberration I am the milk man My milk is deliciousRegistered User regular
    edited October 2006
    I've been thinking about an evil campaign for a while now, and the one I've found the most interesting is the idea the characters must hide thier evil; but still play to further their evil goals.

    What I mean is: You place them in an environment where being blatantly evil would mean a great deal of danger and almost certain death.

    It makes for great and hilarious sessions.

    alternatingAberration on
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  • Vincent GraysonVincent Grayson Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Krosius wrote:
    I've been thinking about an evil campaign for a while now, and the one I've found the most interesting is the idea the characters must hide thier evil; but still play to further their evil goals.

    What I mean is: You place them in an environment where being blatantly evil would mean a great deal of danger and almost certain death.

    It makes for great and hilarious sessions.

    Well, being evil doesn't really mean being an asshole. Evil characters can easily have nefarious end goals that require them to work under the guise of being good.

    Hell, they could be fine upstanding adventurers pooling their gold to use at some later date to fund lots of evil.

    Or, my personal favorite (and done in the evil campaign I'm in) creating problems for towns and then "solving" them for profit. The easiest being undead, of course.

    Vincent Grayson on
  • DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User regular
    edited October 2006
    Hm. You know what might be fun to try?

    Contact each player separately and ask them if they'd like to be secretly evil. And tell them to put their alignment down as Neutral so the other players aren't tipped off if they see the char sheet.

    You'd get your evil party but the players would still hopefully try to act somewhat decently around each other and cut down on those public baby sacrificial rituals.

    DeepQantas on
    m~
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