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Consequences of playing "EVIL" races

Longspeak

Explorer
I don't allow evil characters in most of my games. But characters born of evil races, I do allow.

I have a rule.

"I'm not going to make an issue of your character's evil heritage. Until I do."

I'm not going to have people spit on the Drow or run screaming everywhere they go. That's not fun to play. I'm not going to make an issue of it.

Until I decide to make an issue of it. It won't be a small thing. It will be a plot point. And it will probably be dangerous, and definitely be a problem. And I warn players who want to play a Drow or a Tiefling, that I won't make it a day-to-day thing, but that Trouble Is Coming.
 

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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Another thread got me thinking about traditional evil races and the consequences of playing them. ... Is/ should there be problems with playing evil races in your game? In my games monsters are monsters and villagers will hire PCs to kill them if they come into town.
Table dependant, but I'd have to say for my games, yes there are consequences.

On the other hand how do you accord your friend who wants to play a drow or bugbear and walk into town. I'm sure this has been done before, but interested in thoughts not about playing lawful good, but about how to play and give the players what they want, but at the same time have the DM put parameters on the world.
I wouldn't accord them. I would let them do it with due warning to the consequences and let them figure out how to deal with the potential repercussions/consequences. That's on them to figure out if they want to something like that. Some of the best role playing comes from "conflicts" like this and creative solutions on how to deal with the world as presented.

I have seen where you can play in the outskirts of society where the roadside inn caters to anyone with coin or a nation that is more lawless and has some elements like slavery so other races are tolerated. I see in FR where Waterdeep is supposed to be very cosmopolitan and everything is accepted.
Waterdeep is cosmopolitan, but even there there are some races who get more scrutiny from the Watch while they're walking down the street. Even in Waterdeep, drow don't just walk around willy-nilly. Drizzt wasn't even allowed in the city until Bruenor (a dwarven king) vouched for him.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't allow evil characters in most of my games. But characters born of evil races, I do allow.
Hmmm - that does bring up a rather glaring metagame issue that it'd be mighty hard to ignore at the table, that being this:

If race X is known to be generally evil and the party encounters a random member of race X their in-character reaction is going to be whatever it might be. But if the party encounters a member of race X who the players happen to know is Janet's new PC (and thus by your rules cannot be evil, though the PCs have no way of knowing this) their in-character reaction is almost certain to be different than it otherwise would.

This would bug the hell out of me.
And I warn players who want to play a Drow or a Tiefling, that I won't make it a day-to-day thing, but that Trouble Is Coming.
Ditto, though in my case it's often more class-based ("Wanna play an Assassin? Go ahead, but be warned..."). I do allow evil characters, things tend to sort themselves out over time; and some of the greatest evils in the game are often carried out by those who profess to be "good".
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
But if the party encounters a member of race X who the players happen to know is Janet's new PC (and thus by your rules cannot be evil, though the PCs have no way of knowing this) their in-character reaction is almost certain to be different than it otherwise would.
Yeah... I've seen it in play. They start to RP the whole "oh it's a race X creature" just because they feel like they have to, but that quickly gets left in the dust because "PC". Especially if the DM doesn't do anything to remind the players.

We all just look around and see humans sitting at the table regardless of what our sheet may say.
 


Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Hmmm - that does bring up a rather glaring metagame issue that it'd be mighty hard to ignore at the table, that being this:

If race X is known to be generally evil and the party encounters a random member of race X their in-character reaction is going to be whatever it might be. But if the party encounters a member of race X who the players happen to know is Janet's new PC (and thus by your rules cannot be evil, though the PCs have no way of knowing this) their in-character reaction is almost certain to be different than it otherwise would.

This would bug the hell out of me.
man it's like the whole "X race is inherently EVIL" thing is kinda bad or something :U

in practice I don't really see how this is much different than "you're from X nation, surely you're evil!" other than the new NPC might have a lot of trouble hiding the fact they're of an "evil" race. or not, a tiefling could easily hide their tail and horns, wearing armor can also help hide some distinctive features for other races.
 

Wulffolk

Explorer
Xenophobia is typically the norm when I run a game.

Settlements are usually dominated by one specific race and any other race is at the very least distrusted, while more extreme reactions are possible depending on race relations in that area.

Yes, that means that even "generic" core races have issues in settlements dominated by other races.

Monstrous races had best avoid standard settlements, or remain hidden/disguised, though they may have some luck with other monsters . . . Maybe.
 

Longspeak

Explorer
Hmmm - that does bring up a rather glaring metagame issue that it'd be mighty hard to ignore at the table, that being this:

If race X is known to be generally evil and the party encounters a random member of race X their in-character reaction is going to be whatever it might be. But if the party encounters a member of race X who the players happen to know is Janet's new PC (and thus by your rules cannot be evil, though the PCs have no way of knowing this) their in-character reaction is almost certain to be different than it otherwise would.

This would bug the hell out of me.
I've seen that so much, not just "evil race" but PCs drawing on every NPC who comes along and then meeting a stranger who happens to be a new PC and welcoming them instantly with open arms. They even used it in the hilarious Gamers movie. It's not limited to the evil races.

I get around it usually by starting everyone together. My current game's premise is "you're all mercenaries and thieves working for the same crew." One guy played a drow. No problem in the crew. Generally no problem on the road. But when they needed to get into the temple of the good god? Nope. We won't trust that in our temple.

Ditto, though in my case it's often more class-based ("Wanna play an Assassin? Go ahead, but be warned..."). I do allow evil characters, things tend to sort themselves out over time; and some of the greatest evils in the game are often carried out by those who profess to be "good".
Sure. In my experience the "good" characters can do some pretty non-good stuff, but the players actively wanting to play evil characters have always gone WAY over the line. Also, I just don't like evil. Evil is the thing the heroes are supposed to beat. I have allowed evil PCs when it was someone I trusted with a good reason for the evil character to work with the others ("common enemy" often works). Heck, as a player, I've even played an arc where my supposedly neutral character became actively evil in his actions, took a step back, decided it wasn't who he wanted to be, and set out making amends. It CAN work. But every time I've seen a group want to be evil, they've wanted to REALLY be evil, and that's no fun for me.
 

Wulffolk

Explorer
In my experience most players that want to play "EVIL" just want an excuse to be sadistic selfish @$$h0les at the expense of every other player's ability to have fun.

Most players have a two-dimensional cartoon-ish concept of how evil should be played. Few seem to understand that evil works best when it is subtle and three-dimensional.
 


Wulffolk

Explorer
True.

I am more open to players wanting to play against the racial norm of a traditionally evil race, but as mentioned in one of my previous posts xenophobia is very prevalent in my games.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Just a quick note that this thread's premise is not about playing evil characters, but about playing characters that are from evil cultures (or that are thought to be from evil cultures).
I have a rigid cosmology that roots PC races into the history of the universe.

Culture is not race. In my campaign, there are evil cultures quite commonly among the human race, and even the ones that are not evil are often deeply flawed with various sorts of injustices being perpetrated by that culture. This is because I want the humanity of my fantasy world to reflect in a fantastic way the reality I see in real human cultures. Likewise, even in the worst human culture, not everyone from that culture is themselves full on evil and an unquestioning supporter of that culture. Nor is the culture ever completely without some admirable value, however twisted it is often expressed.

But race is not culture, and while there is in the game a human race, there are also races of fey, goblins, elves, dwarves, orine, and idreth - each with their own unique biology, history, and cultures. These races constitute what is known as the Free Peoples. The fey, or the 'small gods', the neverborn, the eldest and youngest are a people group that appeared in what was presumed to be the first moment of creation. The other six free peoples are the joint creation of the deities after the God's War, when the reality of evil in the multiverse first became manifest. The created six were made in deliberate emulation of the lesser fey, and were gifted by treaty by their creators with the free will to chose their own path, their own desires, and the freedom to serve and worship whom they pleased.

Those seven races (or racial groups) are generally what people mean when they say 'people'.

There are lots of other sentient things in the world, but they are generally not considered 'people'. In particular, there are lots of things which are called servitor races, because they have a single divine creator and a single divine patron and as such, though they are sentient, don't really have free will. They can't change their nature. They are incarnated to represent the deity in the world, and they are subordinate to the will of that individual deity. Most people think of them as a sort of fancy machine or robot, and not really persons. It's not considered an act of moral weight to destroy one more than the weight of destroying an object - it can be wrong to destroy an object but it isn't murder. Whether they have a right to exist depends on whether you think the universe would be better off with that deity or not. If you were to use the term 'evil races' in my campaign world, most peoples first thoughts would be to servitor races of evil deities. Notably, you are not normally allowed to play a PC servitor in my game.

There are some exceptions to the universal inclusion of the seven 'free peoples' in the category of free peoples.

The fey are markedly different than the created six, and not every member of the created six counts the fey alongside them as one of the free peoples. They may not necessarily hate all fey, and they may even venerate them as 'small gods', but they don't really consider them people. One reason for this is that the fey are divided into the Unseelie and Seelie cultures, and many of the created six don't consider the fey to be truly free people because they believe they have an inherent unchangeable nature. They don't believe a fey can truly change, and so once evil, a fey is presumed to be always evil. Indeed, an evil fey is presumed to come into existence (not all are actually born, as fey can spontaneously generate much like certain spirits) unchangeably evil, in a way that the created six generally do not assume of each other.

Another exception is goblin-kind. According to legend, when the race of goblins were first created they looked different than they do now. They lacked the thick scaly hide, the wiry hair, the cruel fangs, and the horns. They were supposedly more pleasant to look on, and less diverse in size and shape. In an early age of the world, they retreated from the company of the other races into the dark spaces under ground, and when they reemerged, they were said to be changed and fierce. They made war on the other races and devoured them, and the other created races only survived because the dwarves - having been warned by Lord Dwar the Maker, their chief patron, had secretly also made ready for war and sallied forth from fortresses long prepared to meet the goblin hordes in battle. Many of the philosophers of non-goblin peoples believe that the goblins are now no longer Free Peoples, and should not be counted among them. They believe that they have been altered by Maglubiyet to be his slaves, and are so altered from what they once were that they are little more than servitors. Thus, goblins are often accounted an evil race, and not tolerated.

A similar story lies in the now largely forgotten depths of time, remembered mostly only by the elves. In the early days of history, the elves prospered above all other free peoples, and bracketed the world in forest and founded the first Empire - the Empire of Leaves. But the elves were a free people, and untamed, and the world was wide, and so it was often many years before families of elves would encounter on another. And so it happened that the elves discovered that there was one clan amongst them that had become strange to them. They discovered that this clan had pledged themselves to the sole worship of a single deity, the goddess of craft and weaving that had taught much art to the elven people - Lolth. Then they discovered with much alarm that this goddess conspired to overthrow Holy Corwin and the rest of the Seldarine, and become the sole deity of the elven people. It was then decided that this clan, which they called the Drow, had ceased to be people, and had become servitors only, and a great civil war broke out among the elfish race which only ended with the last of the Drow was slain and their clan was extinct. (It was in the aftermath of this war, that the Goblins let loose their hordes and tried to conquer all other peoples.)

So what I'm trying to say is that the whole framework of this discussion looks very different internal to my campaign world. While Goblins are usually accounted 'Free People' and not 'Evil Servitors', it's not just the usual racism that accounts for the distrust of them. There is plenty of the usual racism, and humans in particular are notorious for persecuting anyone that looks remotely different than them - including their fellow humans - and are prone to offering up such differences as flimsy excuses for making war. But for something like Goblins, I'm less commenting on race (for which I need no fantastic races) than I am on the as yet theoretical encounters between humanity and non-human sentient beings. Elves, dwarves, fey, and goblins are all alien and have fantastic alien qualities. And I get rather annoyed, and somewhat disturbed, when people start insisting on seeing human ethnic groups in my non-human races.
 
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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
@Celebrim

That sounds like a wonderfully deep and rich world. It also sounds like far more work than I would be willing to put in, at this point, so I presume you've been running in it for a while.
 

shawnhcorey

Explorer
In my world, goblins are night scavengers. When humans create a town, the goblins move into the dump. Why? Because humans throw out the best stuff. Every night the goblins go into town and haul off everything that is not nailed down (and a few things that are if they are not nailed down too securely). Towns with goblins are the cleanest towns. That also means diseases are very low in these towns. Just don't pass out outside and expect to wake up anything but naked.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I've seen that so much, not just "evil race" but PCs drawing on every NPC who comes along and then meeting a stranger who happens to be a new PC and welcoming them instantly with open arms. They even used it in the hilarious Gamers movie. It's not limited to the evil races.

I get around it usually by starting everyone together.
Which is fine, but you only get to do that once per campaign. After that, you're looking at intermittent turnover be it by character death, retirement, or whatever; at which point someone new (most likely) comes in.

Sure. In my experience the "good" characters can do some pretty non-good stuff, but the players actively wanting to play evil characters have always gone WAY over the line. Also, I just don't like evil. Evil is the thing the heroes are supposed to beat.
Fair enough.

Round here we don't necessarily default to the PCs being heroes, at least in the typical sense of the word. They are what they are, and if they happen to pull off some heroism along the way then so be it. More often, however, their 'heroism' comes as more of a side effect - they didn't wipe out the Orc encampnent to save the town from raiding parties, they did it to get at the Orcs' rumoured-to-be-enormous treasure hoard and hey - look at that - now these townsfolk think we're heroes too. Bonus!
 

Celebrim

Legend
In my world, goblins are night scavengers. When humans create a town, the goblins move into the dump. Why? Because humans throw out the best stuff. Every night the goblins go into town and haul off everything that is not nailed down (and a few things that are if they are not nailed down too securely). Towns with goblins are the cleanest towns. That also means diseases are very low in these towns. Just don't pass out outside and except to wake up anything but naked.
It's a whole race of trash pandas. I love it.

I have too much lore around goblins to steal it, but now I want to have a sentient raccoon race in my setting.
 

pemerton

Legend
In Gary Gygax's DMG, the City/Town Encounter Matrix found in Appendix C has an entry for ruffians. 5% of daytime encounters, and 7% of nighttime encounters, are with 1d6+6 "fellows of shabby appearance and mean disposition" (p 192), The matrix has a double asterisk on the ruffians entry, with the footnote saying that "If desired, 1 in 4 can be half-orc or of humanoid race (goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, orc)."

Presumably those humanoid ruffians hang out at (seedier) taverns and inns. I don't see any reason why a PC orc, goblin etc would raise any more eyebrows than these humanoid ruffians. If they dress less shabbily, they might even be better regarded!
 



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