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KnotKnormal
2014-07-16, 12:41 AM
Alright, so I volenteered to run an evil campaign for my gaming group. It's a little bit foreign to me. I've done low level campaign and epic level campaigns, but this is my first evil. I have a decent plot, but I'm concerned about trying to throw them on that particular train for fear of the "f*** it, I'm evil," responce. So how do I get evil characters to follow a story with out micromanaging or DM slapping. Or is part of my problem that I'm instantly assuming my players will take the chaotic stupid route?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated on this matter.
Thank you every one.

Edit: Please read the later post by me.

Kid Jake
2014-07-16, 02:12 AM
If you're worried about them just ignoring the campaign to focus on the evulz then make it something that they can't just ignore. If Lord Hardass the Firm is overthrowing the kingdom and raising everyone's taxes then big whoop, it's not like murderhoboes fill out a 1040 to begin with. But if the PCs end up (accidentally?) stealing some awesome bauble from his Royal Firmness, then suddenly he starts sending bounty hunters to mess up their day and now you've got a BBEG that's screwing up THEIR plans. I've yet to meet a player that's going to take THAT laying down and I can almost guarantee that after they've lost their first gold piece to the BBEG's meddling that they'll swear a blood oath, join the Resistance and start suicide bombing the castle in retaliation.

Sure, they may get side tracked; but just prod them every now and then (you really don't have to do much; in my experiences PCs always take much greater offense to something than they should) to remind them how much they hate that guy and they should stay in 'roaring rampage of revenge' mode right up until the exciting conclusion.

TheCountAlucard
2014-07-16, 02:53 AM
If you're worried about them just ignoring the campaign to focus on the evulz, then talk to the players before you even have the game session.

arcane_asp
2014-07-16, 05:10 AM
I took part in an 'Evil Campaign' last year, it didn't last too long. The issue was that we didn't really have a reason for the party to stick together, we just created 5 independent evil PC's and had them all turn up at the beginning claiming they were adventurers.

Infighting, excessive evulz, too violent/graphic fights, and levels of sadism that actually quite frightened our DM. We abandoned it in the end, it got a bit too much. As TheCountAlucard says above, maybe agree with them some boundaries before you even begin. If the characters have reasons to stick together as well as shared goals, it may work out much better and run beyond a few sessions (unless you wanted something like that to begin with?)

AGow95
2014-07-16, 06:19 AM
The route I like to take with evil campaigns is to have the pc's all be members of some form of evil organisation e.g. spec ops in a evil army, agents for the church of an evil god, or members of a thieves/assassins guild. I'd just go with whichever one fits the plot you have so far best.

Joe the Rat
2014-07-16, 07:18 AM
It seems the dangers of evil campaigns are not in getting sidetracked by orphanage-burning, but the infighting. Unless the goal is to turn the game into D&D-themed Diplomacy, encourage your players to come up with a reason to work together in the long term.

Kaveman's Cattle-Driving Necromancers journal has the start of a suprisingly coherent and cohesive group of vile villains that work quite well together, for filial, spiritual, and practical reasons. Pragmatism to the level of black comedy.

prufock
2014-07-16, 07:50 AM
Yes, you need to set groundwork before even planning a campaign. Saying "evil campaign" means different things to different people. Generally, I like to have character details that include:
- a couple personal goals/motivations for the character
- a couple reasons that you are working with these people (ties to at least 2 other characters)
- a couple extra plot hooks

It can be as simple as a team working together for their boss, to acquire some item/intelligence that the boss needs.

Yora
2014-07-16, 08:05 AM
Ask the players what they think an evil campaign should be like and about.

paddyfool
2014-07-16, 08:15 AM
I'd recommend having a look at the Way of the Wicket Wicked campaign, if you can. Some good ideas in there how to make it work.


The PCs are initially forced to band together to survive in a "break out of death row" scenario.

After that, the PCs are further incentivised not to screw each other by (a) a contract to Asmodeus and (b) everyone else in the campaign setting being either against them or out to exploit them.

KnotKnormal
2014-07-16, 10:21 AM
Is there anything wrong with poking the player, wearing the leadership hat, with the sharp pointy stick of plot, in the side, until he makes everyone hop on the train. I'm pretty sure i know who will rise as the leader of the group, and I should be able to lure him with a carrot one direction or another. Is this frowned upon?

ElenionAncalima
2014-07-16, 11:04 AM
I'd recommend having a look at the Way of the Wicket campaign, if you can. Some good ideas in there how to make it work.



Assuming you mean Way of the Wicked :smallwink:, I second this. The first book does a really good job laying out the problems that plague evil campaigns and the authors tried to fix them.

I think the core fixes were:
-Disallowing chaotic evil and focusing more on the lawful/neutral evil dark lord archetype.
-Giving the PCs a reason to work together.
-Having a contract that establishes PCs can't backstab each other and that all loot is shared equally.
-Giving the PCs a specific goal to work towards (beyond just death and destruction)

I think that another thing Way of the Wicked does really well is to capitalize on opportunities that villains have that good guys don't have.
ie) Managing minions and manning your own dungeon agaisnt crusading adventurers.

Winter_Wolf
2014-07-16, 11:57 AM
I read somewhere once (maybe even Giantitp) that evil characters are perforce proactive forces. Make them come up with their own schemes. Your "typical heroes" essentially being reactive to the moving and shaking of the evil ones.

Or start them as peons with ambitions beyond "kill it, loot it" (which coincidentally seems to be the default behavior of "good" characters, too). I dunno, I just feel like there's a huge amount of potential with evil characters that never gets tapped because everyone defaults to "evil=psychotic murder spree", player and GM alike. I don't even see a problem with chaotic evil, as long as it's not some variation of stupidity.

The potential for scheming, politicking, shoot even just clearing out the dungeon of all the old tenants and then setting up shop in your new lair.

"Oh my no, dear peasants. I wasn't clearing out that orc lair to save the village, I was merely 'forcibly relocating' deadbeats so I could move in my own troop of loyal minions. Now then, who's going to volunteer to be part of my grand vision, and who's going to get 'forcibly relocated?' Tick-tock, this is a limited time offer."

NowhereMan583
2014-07-16, 03:18 PM
I read somewhere once (maybe even Giantitp) that evil characters are perforce proactive forces. Make them come up with their own schemes. Your "typical heroes" essentially being reactive to the moving and shaking of the evil ones.

This is, in my experience, the most difficult part of running an Evil campaign. I'm actually running one now (see here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?358929-Campaign-Log-Brothels-Archaeology-Mutants-and-Other-Questionable-Elements-(PF))), and the biggest challenge is trying to get the players to craft schemes instead of just reacting to threats like they do in Good campaigns.

I give them large amounts of time left to their own devices, but so far their only proactive work is some minor rebellion against the local laws (and a brief related spate of serial-killing that the campaign log hasn't caught up to yet). It seems to me that it's almost necessary to have a bigger evil recruit them as minions, so they at least have direction.

Once you have players doing crap "for the evulz", you actually have a pretty solid campaign arc going. They want to kill the shopkeep for giggles? Great -- now you have an antagonist for your campaign. The town guard are trying to hunt them down, and just killing off guardsfolk is only going to make the problem worse since it gets the higher-ups to take the situation more seriously... and you've got a whole campaign of running from the law and/or trying to overthrow the current government so they can take over and go back to doing what they like.

If your characters want to be Stupid Evil, have the rest of the world react to them in a way they can't ignore. If the characters get too tough for the town guard to realistically handle them, you've reached the part of the campaign where things get really interesting: it might be time for a Good adventuring party to show up and try to eliminate the Stupid Evil menace.

Basically, once you get them DOING things, the campaign writes itself.

veti
2014-07-16, 05:49 PM
Start them at low level, and give them some sort of in-game affiliation to keep a lid on the infighting. One very successful campaign I played, we were all members of the same (extended) ninja family.

Then give them orders, a mission to fulfil, what have you. Whether they do it or not is up to them, but if they don't, then whoever gave them the mission is going to come after them sooner or later. When that happens, make it abundantly clear that "standing and fighting" is suicide. By now, if they've been being Generally Evil, they should have made a reasonable selection of enemies; and this being a RPG world, all those enemies will know about levels and power and they'll have gone out and tooled themselves up with mercenaries/equipment that make them able to take on a party of at least twice the PC's level.

The more enemies they make, the more threatened they become. Either they can spend their whole time on the run, or they can try to negotiate a truce with some of the factions - and that will be an introduction to the joys of Politics, which is always a good way for a campaign to go - particularly if all participants are evil...

zinycor
2014-07-18, 12:20 AM
Make a ****ing dangerous world, they are not together because they like eachother, they are together because otherwise, they die!

Dunsparce
2014-07-18, 09:46 AM
In the one evil campaign I'm in, the party never fights with each other unless mind controlled(which our half-fiend gnoll barbarian suffers from quite frequently) I didn't join the campaign until the party was level 12, they started at level 5 and we're now level 17, almost to 18. We're a ragtag bunch of misfits, only evil beyond redemption.

PrincessCupcake
2014-07-23, 04:09 AM
1-you and the players should collectively set some ground rules that all can agree on, just to keep things from devolving and tearing the table asunder. Things like "no killing each other for the lulz" or "you should all have a unified backstory" or "No characters of <alignment/race/class/etc.>". Come up with a few of your own, and get players to suggest a couple themselves. You'd be surprised how much any campaign (evil or not) can benefit from this sort of cohesion.

2-Get them hating or fearing someone. If you can pull both those emotions at the same time, you have one heck of a motivator for a generally wicked and self interested party to work together. If you don't mind infighting or backstabbing, you can always make them hate/fear each other.

TheDarkDM
2014-07-23, 04:29 AM
Well, since the point about an evil campaign being all about player agency has already been brought up, I guess I'll jump straight to my second piece of advice for evil characters and campaigns: evil people are still people. This is a point that gets lost all too easily in the morally absolute D&D cosmology - unless you are a being physically made of evil like a devil or a demon, you are still likely to have good qualities along with the bad. An evil character can be loyal. An evil character can be generous. An evil character can fall in love. If you can sit down with your players and really hammer home that an evil campaign does not require a gang of psychopaths who can't last a week in a civilized world, then you'll avoid most of the problems that crop up when people play evil characters.

I also urge you not to make a bigger bad or an overwhelming force for good the center of the campaign. They should appear, of course, but only in the way that recurring antagonists would appear in a regular game. If your PC's can't come up with nefarious plans on their own, drop the kind of hooks that a villain might take. Starving town in the mountains? Pass. Ancient ring of power locked away in the hoard of a legendary dragon? That works. So do suddenly vacant lines of succession, civil wars, ancient conspiracies (which they'll probably try to take control of, rather than dismantle), and power vacuums in the city or country's underworld. These are the kinds of open ended hooks you can design multiple adventures around while maintaining PC agency. In addition, to tie them together, you should make it feasible for them to acquire increasing numbers of minions as they level. That way they can delegate the more mundane wickedness of their grand designs. I think Way of the Wicked has rules for that sort of thing, but I've yet to read them.

hamishspence
2014-07-23, 05:59 AM
Well, since the point about an evil campaign being all about player agency has already been brought up, I guess I'll jump straight to my second piece of advice for evil characters and campaigns: evil people are still people. This is a point that gets lost all too easily in the morally absolute D&D cosmology - unless you are a being physically made of evil like a devil or a demon, you are still likely to have good qualities along with the bad. An evil character can be loyal. An evil character can be generous. An evil character can fall in love.
One of the things I liked about Savage Species was that it stressed this.

KnotKnormal
2014-07-24, 11:55 AM
I hope you guys don't mind if I keep posting back here with updates of what is going on as well as advice on what to do next. So you guys suggested having them come up with their own schemes. I kind of nudged them in the direction of a few near by cities and let them to their devices. To which they decided to slowly corrupt and politically and peacefully take over every single one, even them i gave them an army at their back to slaughter the towns folk indiscriminately. (PCs confuse me) Now they are planning to sail out to a few islands and claim them for themselves rather then the evil guy they work for. My question to you is how do I stop this with out putting up a plot shield, or at least fix it so it remains a 2 sided war instead of having a random group of PC slowly manipulating both sides of the war. (that's their over all plan, They're already trying to work good and evil into a stale-mate, so they have the time to set up.)

ElenionAncalima
2014-07-24, 12:47 PM
Now they are planning to sail out to a few islands and claim them for themselves rather then the evil guy they work for. My question to you is how do I stop this with out putting up a plot shield, or at least fix it so it remains a 2 sided war instead of having a random group of PC slowly manipulating both sides of the war. (that's their over all plan, They're already trying to work good and evil into a stale-mate, so they have the time to set up.)

Is there a particular reason why the war can only have two factions? If the PCs are gravitating towards manipulating both sides, it is probably because that is what is grabbing them as a fun goal for the campaign. I would run with it, instead of trying to fight against it.

Of course, make sure that the PCs face all the challenges that go along with trying to play both sides. Eventually the evil guy is going to realize that the PCs are working against him. When that happens he is going to want them dealt with. Have him send assassins, set traps and/or send clues to good guys incriminating the PCs. For the good guys, you could have a group of adventurers who have stumbled upon a trail of clues and now are closing in on the real puppet masters behind the war. If your PCs aren't careful, they may very well end up with enemies on both sides. Don't screw them over with this...but make them work for their happy villain ending.

Mark Hall
2014-07-24, 01:06 PM
The two things evil parties need, far more than good parties, is reasons to be together and goals to achieve.

In a good party, they can be together because they're friends and they help each other, and their goals can be a lot more reactive. Lord Hardass is harassing the people... that's a goal for the good party to overcome, and they're doing it together because they're the ones available. An evil party needs reasons to stick together and goals to achieve.

A good example might be the movie, The Defiant Ones (leaving aside whether those characters are evil or not). Two criminals, chained together. They both have a goal: Escape and get unchained. They have a reason they have to be together... big piece of chain. Those two, combined, make a lot of the plot of the movie. They don't want to be together, but they have to be, so they work together

In D&D, you might use magical means, such as a curse or a geas, or maybe something more carrot-related... together, they get some sort of ability, and it's not convenient to separate them (though you can always go like Swordsman, from The Thunderbolts, who skinned his sister so he could keep using the powers he got in contact with her).

Arbane
2014-07-24, 03:00 PM
I read somewhere once (maybe even Giantitp) that evil characters are perforce proactive forces. Make them come up with their own schemes. Your "typical heroes" essentially being reactive to the moving and shaking of the evil ones.


"Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic." —Narration from The Last Avengers Story

Winter_Wolf
2014-07-24, 04:58 PM
I hope you guys don't mind if I keep posting back here with updates of what is going on as well as advice on what to do next. So you guys suggested having them come up with their own schemes. I kind of nudged them in the direction of a few near by cities and let them to their devices. To which they decided to slowly corrupt and politically and peacefully take over every single one, even them i gave them an army at their back to slaughter the towns folk indiscriminately. (PCs confuse me) Now they are planning to sail out to a few islands and claim them for themselves rather then the evil guy they work for. My question to you is how do I stop this with out putting up a plot shield, or at least fix it so it remains a 2 sided war instead of having a random group of PC slowly manipulating both sides of the war. (that's their over all plan, They're already trying to work good and evil into a stale-mate, so they have the time to set up.)

Why do you need to stop them? I mean, they're showing initiative and presumably going to set up their villainous island lair like all "proper" villians seem to wan to do (especially if it's warm/tropical!). Sounds also like they're serving up adventure hooks and plot stuff on a silver platter. It's also entirely possible that on some level they resent "being given" an army and/or being lieutenants instead of the big dogs.

Although I can understand that if you've put a lot of thought and planning into another arc that it might skew wildly away from "the plan". Still, I think you're hitting the plot hook jackpot, or about to. Not coincidentally, PC ingenuity and unpredictability are why I only bother running premade campaign settings—that way my heart doesn't silently break when they "screw up" my precious work. :smalleek::smalltongue:

KnotKnormal
2014-08-03, 01:39 AM
Although I can understand that if you've put a lot of thought and planning into another arc that it might skew wildly away from "the plan". Still, I think you're hitting the plot hook jackpot, or about to. Not coincidentally, PC ingenuity and unpredictability are why I only bother running premade campaign settings—that way my heart doesn't silently break when they "screw up" my precious work. :smalleek::smalltongue:

Does this give me permission to hit them repeatedly with different branches of the plot tree until they deside they want to pay attention? Or should I just save all my big, juicy, meat covered hooks for another arc and allow this band of PCs gain a foot hold in the war?

Winter_Wolf
2014-08-03, 10:55 AM
Does this give me permission to hit them repeatedly with different branches of the plot tree until they deside they want to pay attention? Or should I just save all my big, juicy, meat covered hooks for another arc and allow this band of PCs gain a foot hold in the war?

Let me ask you this: how well do you really know your players? I'm just some faceless stranger on the internet, after all. I'm not even trying to be ironical, sarcastic, facetious, whatever you'd like to call it. I am literally some dude you've never met, and all I can do is tell you what I'd like as a player, what I'd do as a GM, and that your best source of good, useful feedback is your player base.

Or to use a fishing metaphor, you can dangle all the hooks you'd like with whatever bait you want, but you can't make 'em bite if they don't want to. You can still try of course, but it's really up to you to decide if/when the frustration makes dangling those hooks not worth it if no one's going to nibble. And that's how I make a tortured metaphor.

Segev
2014-08-03, 11:07 AM
Forgive me if this sound harsh, but I get the impression that you are missing the advice you are being given.

The fact that you are thinking about how to force the PCs away from their plan IS the problem. It sounds like you do not want to let them play the game. From what you say they are doing, it sounds like they wanted to play an "evil" campaign so they could be the proactive movers who do not care what other NPCs want from them aside from how useful those NPCs are to them.

You are not being advised to lay out hooks. The players have created the hooks for you. Use them! Let them pursue their plans; it screws up both sides' plans, and makes for a potentially interesting story! More importantly, your players are invested in it. If you try to force them off of t, they will become less invested and more likely to feel disinterested or disappointed.

If you have a plot in mind, you must know how the two factions you planned want things to go and what they plan. Have them pursue these plans until your players' actions mess them up, then have the factions react accordingly.

Do not force your players into your plot. Adapt your NPCs' plans as the wildcard of the players make them need to react.

SowZ
2014-08-03, 11:26 AM
Have them read Darkencomic for a party of all evil adventurers, (yes, they are all evil, even that one, except for the one that betrayed the party because he realized not doing so would be evil,) that are reasonable people capable of depth and empathy and multi-layered goals. Evil doesn't mean insane nor does it mean sadistic.

You can be mildly evil like Komi, between LE/NE still willing to participate in conquering the world and killing innocents if your boss asks you to but you have guilt over it, prefer not to get your hands dirty with civilians, and if you were born under different circumstances you could have been good. Or you an be evil like Casper, somewhere between CE/NE, (but mostly CE, proving that CE doesn't mean Chaotic Stupid or even sadistic,) just selfish and adventure loving. Greed, for gold and getting your kicks out of life, at the expense of others you don't care about. But despite not giving two copper pieces for that innocent he just killed for the money, he also cares about enjoying life and that means relationships and this guy will definitely risk his life for his friends. Or you can be evil like Mink. LE and fiercely loyal. She worships an Evil Goddess because it is what her family does and she is part evil dragon. Loyalty, to her, is more important than morality. She isn't selfish. Quite the opposite. But her dedication to her faith and family trumps all. You can be evil like Gort. CE. That is, you want to take over the world and throw down systems that hurt you and abandoned you for revenge. Not very redeemable, but he isn't cruel for the sake of cruelty and as a world leader, yeah, it isn't going to be pretty but it could be worse. He does have a tragic backstory to explain his evil and rewards those who serve him loyally. Then there's Jill who's just totally evil. But she is intelligent and LE, able to recognize the party is more useful on her side than against her. Still, a whole party of Jill's wouldn't work.

Point being you need Evil people capable of friendship and loyalty and rational thought. There is a whole spectrum of evil, and you can't really have more than one or two people too deep in the evil end. Also, a unifying goal is good. Like, set it up in the beginning with the help of the players. Talk to them about what they want the goal to be. Take down the government? World domination? Revenge against this list of people? Escape the abyss? Layer in hooks and backstory elements for each player and give them plenty of wandering room. In the Evil campaigns I've done, though, an overarching goal was important. (In one of them, as a player, I was the LN leader of the group which didn't hurt.) If your players don't comprehend the wide breadth of possible Evil personalities, and want to play out juvenile and/or unhealthy fantasies, they are likely to loot/pillage/rape/murder. Which makes for a crappy story. Hence I recommend Darkencomic.com

Aedilred
2014-08-03, 07:45 PM
I'd recommend having a look at the Way of the Wicket Wicked campaign, if you can. Some good ideas in there how to make it work.
I thought for a moment there was a cricket-themed campaign, only to be disappointed. Another dream dashed...

Amidus Drexel
2014-08-03, 07:55 PM
I thought for a moment there was a cricket-themed campaign, only to be disappointed. Another dream dashed...

That would truly be an evil campaign, though. :smalltongue:

SowZ
2014-08-03, 08:21 PM
That would truly be an evil campaign, though. :smalltongue:

The whole game of cricket is evil, and basing a roleplaying game around that event is even more insensitive! Shame on you!

Aedilred
2014-08-03, 08:52 PM
The whole game of cricket is evil, and basing a roleplaying game around that event is even more insensitive! Shame on you!

I might have just spent the last hour coming up with classes and feat lists for a cricket-based game...

KnotKnormal
2014-08-03, 10:33 PM
Thank you very much Winter_Wolf and Segev. I think I understand what I have to do now. Let them go to these island and control them, then have both factions react to the parties actions of playing both sides accordingly, and let them drive the plot of the war. Or am I missing the point again.

Also Segev, I didn't explain the plot hooks that I planned to use very well, and I apologize for that. The plot I would want to dangle in front of them would actually lauch the next arc in the world. (find puzzle box, open puzzle box, accedentally a cataclismic event that changes the world type of thing) the reason I origanaly wanted to steer them away from the islands is because that is where that particular quest chain starts, but I figured a good way to extend that bit of plot so I don't have to prematurely end the current campaign. Or do am I missing a previous point again?

Segev
2014-08-03, 10:39 PM
Thank you very much Winter_Wolf and Segev. I think I understand what I have to do now. Let them go to these island and control them, then have both factions react to the parties actions of playing both sides accordingly, and let them drive the plot of the war. Or am I missing the point again.

Also Segev, I didn't explain the plot hooks that I planned to use very well, and I apologize for that. The plot I would want to dangle in front of them would actually lauch the next arc in the world. (find puzzle box, open puzzle box, accedentally a cataclismic event that changes the world type of thing) the reason I origanaly wanted to steer them away from the islands is because that is where that particular quest chain starts, but I figured a good way to extend that bit of plot so I don't have to prematurely end the current campaign. Or do am I missing a previous point again?

My recommendation would be less to "let them control the islands" than it is to "let them try." You surely have those islands somewhat developed, so you know what opposition, if any, they'll face out there. If you don't want them to find the puzzle box yet, you can move it to further away, or to the last island they choose to go to. I know that might seem difficult; you can have a lot of entrenched reason for it to be here on this island, and why that island is where it is, but it is movable. (Or maybe I'm wrong, and it's not too terribly tied to any one particular island and its resting-place can be put anywhere; if so, great!)

It sounds like your intended plot path was to have them do the evil guy's bidding and fight the good side for a while, and eventually have to go conquer the islands or something and find the puzzle box. They have moved to the islands ahead of your projected schedule.

One way to combat this would be to have the puzzle box in, perhaps, 3 pieces. Maybe the two extant factions have a piece each, and the third is out on these islands. They'd then have to get the other two pieces before they could even try to solve it. This gives you a prolonged hook into the puzzle box: they find one piece early, and then realize somehow that the rest lies in the hands of their foes. Maybe they're still playing one side against the other and nobody realizes they're a third side yet; in that case, they hide that they even have their third of it from both sides.

Regardless, you can keep your plot pacing regarding the cataclysm by making sure they don't get the whole thing until you're ready.