Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Evil with a purpose : Three evil things and justifications

Art from: Tale of the Wizard's Eye
Artist: Brian Lee
All rights reserved

Evil.  Say it how you like, the word conjures a different imagery for each of us.  Many acts committed by people every day are evil.  Whether it be selling addictive poisons to our fellow man, murder, torture, or other heinous acts; human beings propagate evil every day.  Usually someone committing such an act can justify it within their own psychology.  Rarely do they do so with that justification being "because I'm evil".

In our role playing games we very often see players enjoying their evil characters, describing horrific acts, and yet when they are asked why they would do such a thing the common response is "because I'm evil".  This works well in a Justice League cartoon but is often a little lacking when you are looking for role immersion in your game.  Thankfully, it is often that the case that the people you play with don't have a framework for justifying such actions.  For your evil characters to be more believable, to seem more like characters in a book or movie, and to promote suspension of disbelief, it is a good idea to have a reason for the terrible things your character does.

Below are some examples of evil acts, and some justifications characters may have for committing them (Disclaimer:  I am not endorsing these actions.  Please do not torture, maim, or otherwise commit these acts against any living being.  This is a list propagated for use in RPG settings, not real life reasons to become a serial killer.).

Extortion:  The act of obtaining material gain through use or threat of force.  The primary motivation here is greed and, to a degree, laziness.  For characters who engage in this practice, it is easier, quicker, and more desirable to coerce hard working people into surrendering the product of their labors than it is for the extortionist to work to create that wealth him/herself.  Extortion is a quick way to round up a sizable amount of wealth in a short time, and works best in urban settings where one can target many victims.  Justifications for this range from a "might makes right" mentality, misguided visions of "sticking it to the man", and even delusions of protecting the common merchant from "criminals".  You may hear the extortionist claiming "It's the cost of doing business", "I'm providing protection from 'x'", or "they owe me after all they've done".

Art from: Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
Artist: Christian Martinez
All rights reserved

Torture:  The act of deliberately inflicting pain upon a person.  This may be done under the pretense of gathering information, as punishment, or simply because the torturer enjoys the screams of her/his victims.  Torturers ALWAYS have a reason, an excuse, for inflicting pain upon others.  You may hear a torturer claim "he had it coming after what he did", or "thousands of lives depend on the information he has", or "the sound of their suffering is music to my ears... hand me the dental instruments".  Torture is something a player needs to be wary of introducing to their game.  Tread carefully and with courtesy toward your fellow players (many of whom may have good reason to not want this evil introduced in-game).

Art from: Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock
Artist: Kelsy Cowan
All rights reserved

Murder: The deliberate act of ending the life of another being.  Often clarified as a killing that was not done in self-defense or defense of others.  Murderers come in an array of types.  Assassins, hired thugs, jilted lovers, practitioners of ritual sacrifice, and serial killers are among the most notable and frequently encountered RPG murderer tropes.  Murders occur with great frequency in most RPG campaigns.  Whether a character kills an NPC in a brawl over a petty dispute, kills for an item or money, helps massacre a village at the command of the duke, or tears out the still-beating heart of a sacrificial victim for the glory of Shub-Niggurath; congratulations, you're playing a murderer.  Having a reason for ending a life unnecessarily is easy to come by: "I'm just following orders", "he called my mother a goat-herder", "I have searched my whole life for a hat as fancy as this", or "by blood my power grows as the master from the place apart receives this offering". 

Regardless of the reason for your evil acts, having a reason broadens the depth of your character conceptually.  Being evil "because I'm evil" is lazy role playing, you can do better than that.  Whether your character is a raving lunatic who listens to the cries of the damned as they demand more souls to keep them company, you like the feel of warm blood on your hands, or the boss is paying you so well that your moralistic views against killing just don't stand up to the cold hard cash; play to that justification.   Play as an evil character, but play an evil with purpose.

Art from: Tale of the Wizard's Eye
Artist: Zachary Viola
All rights reserved

Look for more on "evil with purpose" from my coming book "Whispers of Persephone" where I explore profoundly dark evil, necromancy, and provide a host of horrific role playing opportunities, and expand the scope of evil for 5th Edition game play.


Contributing artists:

Brian Lee  (Tale of the Wizard's Eye, The Draw of Glenfallow, Comet over Echo Rock)
                  Appearing soon in:  A comic anthology being released in 2019 (title pending)

Christian Martinez (The Draw of Glenfallow, Comet over Echo Rock)
                               Appearing soon in:  Whispers of Persephone
                                                                A comic anthology being released in 2019 (title pending)
                                                                New product type from Sinopa Publishing LLC
                                                                (new product on KickStarter in January of 2019!)

Kelsy Cowan (Comet over Echo Rock)
                       Appearing soon in:  A comic anthology being released in 2019 (title pending)
                                                       Death comes to Glenfallow
                                                       (pending successful crowdfunding)

Zachary Viola (Tale of the Wizard's Eye, The Steel Road)
                        Appearing soon in:  A comic anthology being released in 2019
                                                        (title pending)
Each of these artists are graduates of the prestigious Kubert School and are remarkable professionals whom I've contracted/commissioned for work in my books.  They are each reliable freelancers who produce quality work with attention to deadlines. So if you need art for your comic book, RPG, or children's book shoot any of them an email.


Thank you all for once again joining me on my adventure in writing, self-publishing, and game design.  I hope this entry gives you some insight into incorporating evil characters into your own games and your own game designs.

I look forward to seeing you next time.

Note:  At the time of this writing, my KickStarter campaign for "The Steel Road" has a little more than one week remaining.  If you are looking for new weapons for your 5th Edition game (easily adapted to other mechanics) you can find 100 illustrated weapons within the book's pages.

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