Consequences of playing "EVIL" races

Celebrim

Legend
I generally don't play D&D because alignment is stupid. In my campaigns, orcs (not what they call themselves) are patterned off of lions.
Interestingly, my Drow society is patterned after lions - because it was a far more appalling social structure than I could have imagined.

If lions were sentient, they'd definitely be "chaotic evil".
 
I find that when I don't run an evil campaign, I get characters that in practice have about the same morality observed in Sopranos or Breaking Bad or what have you.

Perhaps this explains why explicitly evil campaigns are dominated by over the top puppy chewing villains.
Yeah, I think the default expectation is going to be heroic to somewhat neutral.

But to be "evil" all you really need to do is be self serving...putting your needs ahead of others, and so on. It doesn't have to be about eating puppies, as you say.

That's more what I have in mind. I don't think that a game of absolute evil characters who simply wander around killing and destroying wantonly is going to really be all that compelling, nor will it last long.

But something that's just past that middle area? Just a bit evil? That can be a lot of fun.
 

shawnhcorey

Explorer
Interestingly, my Drow society is patterned after lions - because it was a far more appalling social structure than I could have imagined.
The part they don't normally tell you about lion society is that when the daughters get old enough to have young, they encourage young adult males to drive their fathers away to prevent inbreeding. So the fathers drive their sons away before they, in turn, get driving away by complete strangers.
 
In my campaign, there is quite a lot of prejudice, and not just against the evil races. Dwarves and Elves don't like each other. Humans and Halflings are often at odds. Gnomes tend to annoy everyone except the dwarves. In general, this prejudice doesn't normally lead to violence, but it's still present.

Strange races are seldom welcome, except in large cosmopolitan areas. Most of them have been slightly modified in appearance to allow them to blend in without too much difficulty, but if revealed, they'll suffer from some social issue. A few, like the aarakocra, triton, and underdark races cannot easily hide their appearance, and thus suffer a lot of social issues (a triton in my current campaign is very tired of being called "fish-man").
 
In most of the campaigns that I run, the general populace understands that "adventurers" are an unpredictable, dangerous, and unhinged lot. So, anyone who shows up amongst a group of adventurers, while probably not evil, in the strictest sense, are going to cause a lot of trouble, regardless of their species.

They are, however, where they are for a reason, and usually on behalf of the Powers That Be, so it is for the best to just acquiesce to whatever crazy demands they make, and try to stay out of the way when the fighting starts.
 

atanakar

Adventurer
I once accepted, after much insistance by the players, to DM an evil campaign with AD&D1e. It didn't last very long. It ended at the mid-point of the first session. The adventurers auto-killed themselves because they were too stupid to work together. The survivor was killed not long after. Being alone in the wilderness isn't forgiving...

During 3e, with a different group, we tried to do a pirate campaign. At first the players were enthousiastic at being semi-evil, but eventualy they rebelled against their cruel captain, seized his ship and became Corsairs hunting other pirates.
 
It’s like the difference between playing Grand Theft Auto and doing the missions, or simply getting a bazooka and blowing everything up until you get 5 stars and they dispatch the army to take you down.

One is more fun for longer, the other is a short wild ride.
 

Zhaleskra

Explorer
Tangently, Elf/Dwarf animosity has never made much sense. Dwarves need to come to the surface to get food, and elves need to get ore from underground. Also the "loves" of dwarves make no sense, you live underground, but you find pretty rocks valuable?

Anyway, both directions I'm going could be cliche. My problems with "evil" races aside from Powered by Evil creatures are 1.) why aren't they extinct? or 2.) why aren't they the dominant species?

As I know it's going to come up, the MST3K mantra is fine when you're a teenager. When you're older, you have to think about how a world would work believably.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Tangently, Elf/Dwarf animosity has never made much sense. Dwarves need to come to the surface to get food, and elves need to get ore from underground.
It doesn't follow that they need to like each other though.


Also the "loves" of dwarves make no sense, you live underground, but you find pretty rocks valuable?
It's because they find the pretty rocks valuable that they live underground. They've dug so far into the mountains that it no longer makes sense to trek all the way in/all the way out. So they start living near/in their mines.

Anyway, both directions I'm going could be cliche. My problems with "evil" races aside from Powered by Evil creatures are 1.) why aren't they extinct? or 2.) why aren't they the dominant species?
Adventurers & heroes.
There's enough adventurers & heroes in the world to keep the evil things in check, but not enough to drive them to extinction.
This is a source of entertainment for the various gods.


As I know it's going to come up, the MST3K mantra is fine when you're a teenager. When you're older, you have to think about how a world would work believably.
No I don't.
Sure, I can. But the worlds I'm describing & playing in are meant to be fantastical, even impossible. So believability is merely optional.
 
If a player wants to play a drow, duergar, orc, bugbear, etc., they'll probably get strange looks in town. Some might be more hostile than others, some might be more accepting. But unless a player wants to explore that sort of dynamic, I'm not going to have the whole world out to get them.

As for an actually evil drow, duergar, et al, my rule is that they have to get along with the rest of the party. It's a collaborative game, and if you are going to knowingly create disharmony in the group, that's where I draw the line. The same would go for a LG paladin trying to kill the drow PC just because they're a drow.
 
My problems with "evil" races aside from Powered by Evil creatures are 1.) why aren't they extinct? or 2.) why aren't they the dominant species?
1. The deliberate extinctification of a species is very difficult without global cooperation, which there isn't, at least partly due to the existence of evil creatures.

2. Too much competition.

As for an actually evil drow, duergar, et al, my rule is that they have to get along with the rest of the party. It's a collaborative game, and if you are going to knowingly create disharmony in the group, that's where I draw the line. The same would go for a LG paladin trying to kill the drow PC just because they're a drow.
I've found games to be much more entertaining when the player characters don't get along that well, but suffer through working together anyway. This is, of course, only true so long as the players themselves can get along.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Tangently, Elf/Dwarf animosity has never made much sense.
In my game, somewhat exaggerated, you can think of Dwarves having a culture similar to naked mole rats. They are highly social and have a high degree of disease tolerance. They are cosmopolitan. They like to be pressed up against each other in small spaces. They have almost no feelings of claustrophobia. They do get feelings of agoraphobia. They have a high degree of gender dimorphism. They are the only race with a large divergence from the 1:1 ratio of genders, with many males per female. They practice a sort of (theoretically) chaste, chivalric, polyandry where a married couple is supported by retinue of unmarried males who are pledged to the couple. They obey rules, tend to have highly regimented societies with caste and social distinctions. Their ideal society looks like perfectly organized industrial societies where all the resources of the land are harnessed for the the benefit of the society. They are 'wierd' and when they go weird they go weird in weird directions. They are warlike, like to brawl, heal quickly from injuries, and like to be up in people's face giving very physical affection.

By contrast, Elves are arboreal vegetarians that are only semi-social and for much of their youth often have closer ties to animals than to other elves. They experience squeamishness about almost every aspect of urban culture, in no small part because they have relatively low disease tolerance. They think having a neighbor closer than a half-mile away is a bit weird. They don't particularly like crowds. They are xenophobic. They have a reputation of shooting first and asking questions later. They think eating meat is weird or even barbaric, and they typically only do so in emergencies. They have very low degrees of gender dimorphism. They barely practice anything the other species would think of as government. They have loosely organized societies that like to deal with arguments by just putting more distance between you and the person you disagree with. Their ideal society looks a lot like barely groomed nature. They are 'weird' and when they go weird they go weird in weird directions.

It's not that they often come into direct conflict, but when they do they just don't understand each other. Each considers the other alien and aberrant. They don't have the same biology. They don't have the same inclinations. They don't have the same culture. But what both species have in common is that they bear grudges. The elves long life means they have long memories. The dwarf's sense of familial honor means that whatever happened to great-great-great-grand-mama is still a personal insult to them, and they remember who gave it. It makes for explosive feuds.

Anyway, both directions I'm going could be cliche. My problems with "evil" races aside from Powered by Evil creatures are 1.) why aren't they extinct?...
Because the goblins are a tough as nails: even the dwarfs grant them that. They are pretty much at war with five of the other six Free Peoples, and fighting them all to a stalemate. After humans, they are probably the most numerous species on the world, with the largest claim of territory.

or 2.) why aren't they the dominant species?
Because they are at war with five of the other six Free Peoples, and because in particular, despite their massive breeding potential, the fact that they are obligate carnivores limits their ability to maintain large populations. Compared to the humans ability to turn any arable land into a massive amount of storeable grains - grains that the goblins can only eat in small quantities without getting sick - the goblins just can't compete. The other four good races can always in a pinch survive on human produce when a war turns against them.

Mind you, this is a less than jovial alliance. The Dwarves and the Elves tend to think that the Humans are hardly better than goblins, and the humans spend most of the time fighting each other (or the Orine, or occasionally the Dwarves or the Elves) continuously.

As I know it's going to come up, the MST3K mantra is fine when you're a teenager. When you're older, you have to think about how a world would work believably.
Yes.
 
Oh, definitely. A little friction now and then can work and bring out some lovely RP. Provided it stays in-character, and all the players are handling it well.

I've found games to be much more entertaining when the player characters don't get along that well, but suffer through working together anyway. This is, of course, only true so long as the players themselves can get along.
 
Yeah, I've seen plenty of that, too. It's gotten less over the years as the average age of my gaming groups has gone up, but it's never gone away entirely.

It definitely takes maturity. So much friction though tends to be OOC grudges being played out in character.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
As I know it's going to come up, the MST3K mantra is fine when you're a teenager. When you're older, you have to think about how a world would work believably.
Interestingly, I'm far less obsessed with "realism" now than when I was younger. My old Greyhawk AD&D campaigns had strict rules about what races were allowed as PCs and how everything worked. Ultimately, though, as I studied more anthropology, history, and religion in college, I realized that none of it really made much sense under the hood.

Now I go for a Star Wars vibe where the universe is teeming with life. There are prejudices, sure, but there are also lots of cantina bars where anything goes as long as you don't piss off the bouncers. In general, players come up with whatever crazy ideas they have and then we find a way to make it work in the world. (My Saltmarsh group, for example, includes a faerie dragon, a mermaid, a dragonborn, a half-orc, and something else weird that I'm forgetting.) Instead of having them killed on sight in town, we had an adorable scene where local kids were peering in the window of the tavern to catch a glimpse of the group. (Of course, some of the players are kids, so they loved this.)

I also don't abide by racial alignments (or alignment in general). Bleh. I'd rather not fantasize about a world where racism is divinely ordained.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Never heard someone say a new Dwarf PC "won't last long" because there's already a couple of Elves in the party or because the townsfolk don't like them.
That's about the response an Elf would likely get on trying to join in my game right now, as Elves have made themselves a serious nuisance or worse over large swathes of the continent (VERY long story as to why).

The Elves already in are known well enough by Important People that their presence is at least tolerated.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
One of the biggest problems with evil characters is that they're often played so over the top stupid with random acts of thievery and murder, many times against their own party members, that it makes participation in a sustained campaign difficult. I recently ran a game of Vampire and I'd say the setting features evil characters as the standard. One of my PCs used his powers to romance people and feed upon them essentially making him a rapist. Each one of them, in their own special way, ruined the lives of those around them. But they had a reason to get along with each other, even when they failed sometimes, and the rules of the game ensured they didn't jump into the deep end of the evil pool as it would make their (un)lives more difficult.
 

Zhaleskra

Explorer
Under most circumstances, I wouldn't even bother responding to people misrepresenting what I wrote. I will make an exception. Until NOW I didn't say "realism", I said "believably" or if you prefer "versimilitiude", or "internally consistent logic". Even an impossible world has rules, and while they may be Batman levels of crazy, they are there. I don't have a problem with societies having stereotypes or lore gained from experiences with creatures, as you may have noticed from my other posts is that I have a problem with "even fetuses in the womb are Chaotic Evil" and other violations of common sense by alignment.

MST3K is the abbreviation for a comedy show "Mystery Science Theater 3000". The mantra is part of their theme song (not sure if I have the right punctuation): "If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts, just think to yourself it's just a show I should really just relax."
 

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