Author Topic: PCs as the "villains"?  (Read 9022 times)

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ImperatorK

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PCs as the "villains"?
« on: June 25, 2011, 11:51:47 PM »
Anyone ever tried to play a game in which the PCs where the villains? Either part of an evil organization, or sect, or just some ruthless mercenaries and they had to fight (or just oppose) a party of NPC "heroes"?  :smirk
I think it's a cool idea and good opportunity to bring some adult themes into a game ('couse the PCs would most probably be evil).
P.S. I am not speaking about PCs being BBEG, more like minions/lackeys, but more significant.
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Or you could just be a cleric of an ideal. Like, physics and say that the domain choices reflect potential and kinetic energy.

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veekie

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 09:45:20 AM »
Generally they don't seem to end up well, I think. Independent villain types tend to degenerate into backstabbing and horribly cliche villainy(raping houses, setting villagers on fire), while most of those running on the minion basis tends to either chafe or backstab their master before each other. You need a Right Group for this.
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weenog

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 02:03:19 PM »
I played one that worked out pretty well.

I think it helped a lot that the characters had (relatively, this was a fantasy RPG after all) genuine motivations instead of just being evil for evil's own sake, there was no need to lash out just to prove how evil they were.  The characters' goals, while not identical, overlapped enough that they could work toward their own ends without pulling in opposite directions or getting in each others' way, and they were big enough that unassisted pursuits of those goals would likely be inviable.  The characters were fairly close to each other in terms of power; each had multiple contingency plans to kill the others in case of necessity or betrayal, but none could be sure that they'd come out on top if it came to infighting.

Before the game even started, the DM gave us a brief outline of what he expected from the characters in terms of ability and attitude.  Nothing too strict, but it helped to ensure a moderate level of compatibility as they were all designed and built to the same standard.  He also pushed the party together at the beginning to give them some time to figure out they got along, and in a way that they felt they were doing what they wanted to do instead of being railroaded.  Specifically, each received a divine calling to go to a certain location and join the others for a task to be revealed to them all at that time, with a promise of excellent rewards and a small taste of it to show this was worth checking out.  The thief got a magic lockpick that could open any mechanical lock if he was willing to invest the time and give up his silence advantage by speaking the command word and waiting for it to operate instead of just using it to pick the lock himself, for example.

I think it might also help to remind the players to think of it as a role playing game instead of the other way around.  Having fun with it and your friends is more important than, say, having your tyrannical Hextor follower keep trying to subjugate the barbarian because that's what fits his backstory and style.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 02:36:17 PM by weenog »
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Kormoran

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 02:07:29 PM »
TBH the majority of my campaigns both as player and DM were with PC evil or at best neutral.
In the best situation players were simply a mix of ambition and selfishness... and it happened they associated with evil organization for their own interest.
In the worst they were directly evil... first working as minions then ranking up.

I do not think it's anything new.

It's important, anyway, a little bit "serious" attitude by players and DM alike. And the quiet acceptance by PCs that party infighting could happen and it's normal... and being backstabbed by a party member IS NORMAL.
No whining after such a case... neither creating a new PC with only target to "avenge" the dead one.

Finally it'll happen they'll be hunted down by paladin, good clerics, heroes & similia. DM IMO should not try to make gooddoers win anyway as they were the PC party but players should know they lives will be a little bit more dangerous than usual.

Final note: in my experience, it's damn more funny playing on the "dark side".

Kajhera

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 06:23:29 PM »
My first group ever, we tried - drow party.

However, the only female drow cleric in the party had a player who really couldn't do evil very well. The slaves erred on the side of neutral and my male wizard was more the loyal, lawful evil, obedient and very quietly scheming type than someone who could actually push us toward evil.

It didn't really last long and we realized we weren't quite cut out for it.

Later, I ran a campaign for undead players. They went and started a powerful, utopic civilization of equality and tolerance, with epic spellcasting ensuring an awesome life for all their residents who don't quite fit anywhere else properly. ... They were granted divine rank 0 by ... by Heironeous.

We only really can do evil right in mixed parties.

bhu

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011, 05:40:08 AM »
"My left buttcheek has become possessed by the spirit of Vecna and needs exorcised.  I understand your party is willing to do anything for gold, and I need your help to protect me while I journey for the cure."

Stormcrow

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2011, 06:05:22 AM »
well they can be fun

first time 2 times were as thrallhirds  most of the time I would act as a suppoting character and have my thrall do most of the mouth peace and when it got to the epic level of it well master of puppets you have to be more and more creative.

well assassins type character (including the class) is always a good way to help keep the players on the same page
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 06:10:18 AM by Stormcrow »

RobbyPants

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2011, 05:07:33 PM »
I've run games where the PCs were all evil and/or chaotic, which lead to lots of note-passing and secrets, and it was a lot of fun, but I had the right group for that. They took any in-game slights in stride and we had a blast. This might not work for all groups.

I ran a game where the PCs started to do a lot of work for one guy who happened to be Lawful Evil. Most of the PCs were fairly questionable too, IIRC. As he got more comfortable with them, he started having them work on more sinister jobs, and they were happy to do it, as he provided them access to lots of useful stuff (information and magical item trading). So, they weren't villains per se (or they didn't know it), but they were working for one.

I'm a Dread Necro in a solo game right now where necromancy is a severe crime. For the time being, the character is more just dark and somewhat snarky, but uses her powers mostly for good or neutral gains. She typically helps people, but she will do jobs for others that could indirectly harm people. I only mention this, because I was seriously considering having her turn into a "lesser evil" sort of villain if she got powerful enough, but I haven't done that yet. Basically, she'd stop hiding the fact that she's a necromancer, but she'd continue to help the population in general against greater evils and quickly beat down any over-zealous paladins and clerics.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2011, 05:10:48 PM by RobbyPants »
My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
[spoiler]
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
[/spoiler]

weenog

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2011, 09:42:13 PM »
Removing zealots isn't choosing the lesser evil, it's a public service.  Torturing them to death over a period of weeks (prolonged with magical healing if necessary) and then putting their heads on pikes as a warning to others in full view of young children and the faint of heart, that's kind of a grey area.
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Shiki

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2011, 10:57:47 PM »
I really wish I'd get more of these types of games with my playgroup... But it seems they're practically hellbent on being Lawful Stupid or some variants, and Exalted at times. Gets on my nerves as time goes by.

Sorry about the rant. Carry on.
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RobbyPants

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2011, 04:04:05 PM »
Removing zealots isn't choosing the lesser evil, it's a public service.  Torturing them to death over a period of weeks (prolonged with magical healing if necessary) and then putting their heads on pikes as a warning to others in full view of young children and the faint of heart, that's kind of a grey area.
Well, yes, in her mind. It's actually fun to play this character in a world with objective, measurable morality. She's objectively evil (as in, spells will accurately tell you such and holy weapons will hurt her more) because the DM's running the whole necromancy-is-evil idea, and I'm fine with that. What's fun is she doesn't consider herself evil because she's running on a more subjective, results-based form of morality, much closer to what we'd identify with in the real world. So, basically, she's insane, because her wacky subjective beliefs are demonstrably wrong.

And this is sickly fun for me. I got into a pretty good argument with a cleric back when I was level 8 about how I'd only done good things with my abilities and I wasn't hurting anyone (and this was all true), and of course, he'd have none of it. So, in the ensuing violence, I murdered him and his griffon, destroyed the evidence, and turned his griffon into a zombie so I could fly places! Win!

The take home message: It's okay to be insane if you can kill the opposition, kids!
My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
[spoiler]
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
[/spoiler]

weenog

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2011, 08:05:37 PM »
The take home message: It's okay to be insane if you can kill the opposition, kids!

"Sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power."
"Of course I have. You ever tried going mad without power? It's boring. No one listens to you."
"We managed to make an NPC puke an undead monster."
"That sounds like a victory to me."

RobbyPants

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2011, 08:25:53 PM »
The take home message: It's okay to be insane if you can kill the opposition, kids!

"Sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power."
"Of course I have. You ever tried going mad without power? It's boring. No one listens to you."
Exactly!

So, she's gone from being that creepy girl who seems to have a mysterious knack for fixing small problems when no one is looking to that well dressed creepy girl who has saved the town several times that no one dares to fuck with. Funny thing: people listen to her now. When she makes a suggestion or a promise, people take it at face value.
My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
[spoiler]
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
[/spoiler]

oslecamo

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2011, 10:44:15 PM »
I actualy once DMd a gestalt campaign where the party was a BBEG planing to take over the world and its top lieutenants/elite monsters. Including a dragon, a demon/devil hybrid, and the tarrasque, gestalted with archivist. Yes a a tarrasque librarian. Fighting the church, manipulating others, orcs and duergar worshiping them as gods, good times.

And this is sickly fun for me. I got into a pretty good argument with a cleric back when I was level 8 about how I'd only done good things with my abilities and I wasn't hurting anyone (and this was all true), and of course, he'd have none of it.

Actualy, you were enslaving souls , which I believe definetely counts as Evil.

Now you may say "Silly oslecamo, undeads are just animated constructs!", but are they?

As I may remind you, every ressurection spell out there fizzles if the creature has been turned into an undead.

Ressurection and true ressurection allow you to bring people turned into undead back to life... Assuming you destroyed said undead first.

Now compare with an actual animated construct, the flesh golem. It has no such limitations. If your corpse was turned into a flesh golem, you can still be ressurected just fine. So desecration of the corpse by itself isn't the problem. There's something much more sinister to Animate Dead than simply making empty bodies move.

The only logic conclusion it's that necromancy enslaves the soul to animate the body. That's why it can't be brought back to life. That's why it can't even reincarnate. The soul is traped in the undead. Only by destroying it can you free the soul.

So unless you consider enslavement and disruption of of the life cycle not-evil, then necromancy is still no good even if you use your undead only for killing baddies.

weenog

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2011, 10:52:26 PM »
^ Why zealots need to go away.  Making stuff up, and then judging folks for it as if it were holy writ.

I guess murder in the name of stuff you made up to justify the murder is the only righteous solution. :rollseyes
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 10:54:31 PM by weenog »
"We managed to make an NPC puke an undead monster."
"That sounds like a victory to me."

Kajhera

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2011, 11:45:10 PM »
I can animate someone just fine after I've used their soul as ink in my scrolls.

RobbyPants

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2011, 12:16:33 AM »
Actualy, you were enslaving souls , which I believe definetely counts as Evil.

...
Well, you're right that this does lock out the use of Reincarnate and temporarily blocks Resurrection (until the undead creature is destroyed). Still, there are a few issues with your argument:

1) It's only an issue if the creature was going to be brought back in the first place, which is also hardly in the natural cycle of life and death.

2) If my creature does more good while undead than the creature did in life, then I'm still causing a net good to society.

My character also only animates evil creatures or the recently deceased who were buried (so, assumed they were laid to rest and not being brought back).

Although, this is largely moot, because in the game world I'm in, [Evil] spells are evil, and that's that. I think it's more an issue of negative energy and what not, but it doesn't matter. My PC is objectively evil, regardless of her subjective objections to the accusation.
My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
[spoiler]
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
[/spoiler]

StreamOfTheSky

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2011, 03:42:23 AM »
I rank one a while ago.  It worked because the people playing were all friends already for the most part and wanted a cohesive party, and because they shared a strong goal.  Also, I kept the level of opposition very tough so they'd be too busy working together and surviving to try and do a backstab anyway.

The party was basically a bunch of religious fanatics devoted to a powerful elder god that had been the actual creator of the material plane, but was turned upon and sealed away by the other gods, fearful of his power and ambitions.  The party's goal was to first free him and then assist in murdering the entire pantheon and destroying the world (so that their god could recreate a "better" one uncorrupted by the other gods.

Players had to leave for lack of time to play after a while, and to be honest, as a very high powered gestalt game getting into the double digits in level, it was starting to become a nightmare to DM for anyway.  But the game at least didn't end because of inter-party conflict, they just played pranks on and insulted each other time to time.

b100d_arrowz

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2011, 02:18:37 AM »
Anyone ever tried to play a game in which the PCs where the villains? Either part of an evil organization, or sect, or just some ruthless mercenaries and they had to fight (or just oppose) a party of NPC "heroes"?  :smirk
I think it's a cool idea and good opportunity to bring some adult themes into a game ('couse the PCs would most probably be evil).
P.S. I am not speaking about PCs being BBEG, more like minions/lackeys, but more significant.
In my campaign that just finished up, the PCs started out in the employ of your standard corrupt government, slightly xenophobic, conerned with expanding, yada yada yada. They fell out of favor when they refused to kill an elf marauder as ordered, and we subsequently exiled. After a few sessions of making their way in the world and trying to find a purpose (apparently dropping plot hooks of a plot to wipe out the humans, and then an alien invasion weren't good enough  :rollseyes) they get roped into serving the church of Heironious (long story involving involuntary voluntary party combat  :lmao). While on this mission they discover a barbarian invasion is about to commence. While normally not a huge problem for their militarized cult and country, the barbarians were backed by a strange dark power and led by a vicious general who wiped the floor with the party in their first encounter, and left only one (or so he thought) alive to go back and tell the tale of their doom.

So the party gets revived and they go on their way to do their duty and report the happenings to the church hierarchy, and then the king himself. Well they then decide that they've done all that is necessary (partially out of fear of being destroyed again I suppose) and try to set off on their merry way. On the path of adventure and escape they come across a seemingly crumbling mage's tower and enter, escaping some harrowing traps and finding the court wizard locked in a battle of will with the barbarian mages. They lend their assistance and get roped into helping out fight the barbarians.

I know what your thinking this doesn't seem like their being evil... however after they get sent to open a line of dialogue with the elves to the south, the barbarian forces hit with the vengeance of... well an angry barbarian horde  0:) The brave heroes get sent on a mission to go free the elves ancient allies, the green dragons (in this world Green Dragons are the BFF of the elves.) So they go off and find out that the same elf marauder they refused to kill earlier was the one preventing the dragons from coming to the aid of their old allies. They engage in a brief fight which ends with the marauder retreating further into his cave. At night the unofficial party leader sneaks back into the cave and switches sides, saying he's tired of getting his ass kicked  :rollseyes. So he and the marauder hatch a plan to break the back of the elf society. The party knows nothing of this, and fully believe the monk when he returns to the surface and tells of a harrowing battle in which he won a dragon orb.

The party returns victoriously to the elves, just in time to throw off a powerful offensive thrust from the barbarians. At a party held in their honor the night after, the monk commands the dragons to attack the elves, and then informs the party that the elves had planned on betraying them and were going to turn on all humans because of the barbarians. He then informs the party of the "virtue" of the barbarian ways, and along with an NPC Wizard whom they were supposed to have killed but ended up leaving alive  :looloo convince the party they should betray their old country, as they were already cast out of it. So the party becomes the forefront of the barbarian invasion, and for the last 5 sessions slowly conquer their home continent, and the last session ended with them setting up a permanent government, and then murdering the "minders" the barbarians left behind
I'm delirious from lack of sleep, but am sustained by the power of the Gatling Gun!

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PhaedrusXY

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Re: PCs as the "villains"?
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2011, 11:18:38 PM »
Exhibit A, although I think our group definitely qualifies as "just misunderstood", rather than being actual villains. :D
[spoiler]
A couple of water benders, a dike, a flaming arrow, and a few barrels of blasting jelly?

Sounds like the makings of a gay porn film.
...thanks
[/spoiler]