Evil Campaign

Swedish Chef

Explorer
I know threads like this have been posted before, but I can't seem to find any at the moment (my google-fu is weak).

My group wants to start an evil campaign, with me running it. I'm okay with that, and have implemented some house rules ahead of time to try and keep things under control (ie. this is an evil campaign, not a raving lunatic psycho campaign where the players kill each other and everyone else Just Because), but obviously I want them to have fun.

What I'm looking for is two fold. 1) I need some advice from other DMs who have run such a campaign (ie pitfalls to watch out for, what worked for you and what didn't, etc) and 2) some ideas for modules/dungeon adventures that I can relatively easily switch to a more "evil" bent. I'm expecting that this campaign will be far more roleplay based than any of our prior campaigns (which are usually retrieve the MacGuffin dungeon crawls), but I need adventures ready incase the entire group falls into their usual mode, only with "evil" characters.

This will be 3.5 based, with pretty much any rule book, if that makes a difference to your responses.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Physiker

First Post
I never played an evil campain as DM, but once at player.

The story was quit simple:
We took a monarc (of a small town) hostage, as he was riding in the woods.
We placed a doppelganger in his place (in that case it was me)
I introduced my new "staff" (the party) and fired the old one by one.
So we had a powerbase an a decend income, since we raised taxes.
Than an enemy army ... they had something against the country my town was in... started to invade us. And since no one of us wanted to leave that goldmine, we had to defend that town....

I think that was a 3 days adventure, and we had a lot of fun.
(And if I'm not mistaken we were Level 10 at the beginning)

So I would say, that you can use probably every campain you can use for good players, but the reasons why the characters do what they do changes.
 

green slime

First Post
Only do this with players you kow well, and whom know each other well. It is far too easy for such a campaign to cause a rift, and let in-game actions spill over into real life.

I'd skip the BoVD, and other similar stuff, but that is just me: I'm not happy about going into gruesome detailsk, or having rules for the same.

Put the game in context, and sound the players out about their goals for their characters: Specifically, why are they playing evil characters? What do they hope to achieve? Do thery really want "Evil" or are they just tired of being do-gooders? Perhaps a more selfish "neutral" attitude is what they are really looking for? Evil does really imply slavery, murder, mayhem and rape. It can get pretty nasty from there once you start involving undead, sex, and PCs as the antogonists...

So my suggestion is; really talk to the players, what do they want, what do they mean, and think about what you are comfortable with.
 

Swedish Chef

Explorer
GS - good advice. I am emailing the group and trying to suss out their ideas, wants and goals in the upcoming campaign. So far, I'm not getting much in response, which leads me to believe it will be a "small e" evil campaign (or, more of a selfish neutral, as you put it).

I have no plans on going into extreme detail, or asking for it from the players. We've all gamed together for upwards of 20 years, so it shouldn't be a problem from that perspective. Even when we played d20 modern, and they were mercenaries, their whole idea of "evil" consisted of "I torture the guy to get the information, if he's not going to co-operate. You know, the basic stuff. Cut off fingers, cigarette burns, etc". That was as descriptive as it got. And since one of the players is one guy's 14 year old daughter, rape is not a subject anyone deals with in any way except the most glossed over, in the background, barely acknowledged sort of way.

None of us own the BoVD, so that won't be an issue either.

Physiker - that's really my problem. Many of these adventures assume a good nature to the party. Person X will die if the party doesn't return with a healing potion. King Joe will lose his country if the party doesn't stop Evil Group. Stuff like that assumes a basic altruism to the party. If they are evil, how would I modify those goals/hooks? The group is now Evil Group trying to overthrow the king? Great, but the module is now useless, as it is written as a story to stop Evil Group, not to *be* Evil Group. That's my issue is that many published adventures do not translate well to the "evil" side of things.

Realistically, I only need 1 or 2 low level adventures that I can switch to get me started. Once the group has set its sights on something, I can wing it without problem. Its just getting them started that is hardest. Unless, of course, they get off their collective butts and let me know at the beginning just what they plan on doing (ie take over the country. Form an assassins guild. Whatever).
 

Physiker

First Post
Physiker - that's really my problem. Many of these adventures assume a good nature to the party. Person X will die if the party doesn't return with a healing potion. King Joe will lose his country if the party doesn't stop Evil Group. Stuff like that assumes a basic altruism to the party. If they are evil, how would I modify those goals/hooks? The group is now Evil Group trying to overthrow the king? Great, but the module is now useless, as it is written as a story to stop Evil Group, not to *be* Evil Group. That's my issue is that many published adventures do not translate well to the "evil" side of things.
Just switch some things: "Person X will die if the party doesn't return with a healing potion." Which means you will lose the option to iterrogate him where his treasures are.
"King Joe will lose his country if the party doesn't stop Evil Group." The example in my first post fits here nicely, because that is actually what we did. Just because you are evil does not mean you don't work against an other evil group.

In the campain I mentioned we had the choice between defend our town, which meant in the end stop the invading army, or to join the invading army. Which puts you back a lot... From ruler to servant.

And the players won't try something which is far beyond there powers just because they are evil now. So I don't think they would actually try and become the king of a country, unless they are really powerfull.
A "good" party would not try to kill the evil lichking at level 5 either.
 
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green slime

First Post
My present campaign, I threw out some old preconceptions, and ran it thusly (after first confirming that the players were interested):

I fielded the players individually for the archetypes and goals they wanted for their potential character. I then created three characters for each player myself, based on our long time as a group (we have been playing together for nigh on twenty years, on and off).

Each player was then presented with a choice of one good-aligned character, one neutral-aligned character, or one evil-aligned character. On the character sheet I also suggested goals for each individual character, and listed a suggested reward for succeeding at the listed goal. Each character had also at least one affiliation with an organisation of some kind. Some had several.

Suggested rewards consisted of both xp, and social. Some goals were conflicting. Some personal rewards were conflicting (increase in XP, decreased social standing, increased influence with certain organisations).

No player knows the goals or interests of the other players, unless specifically told (clerics are usually understood to be working within their church, but they also have other affiliations). If you tell another player, are you certain he is trustworthy? Potential characters included spies from east, barbarian mercenary centaurs, loyal legionaires, war weary veterans, corrupt priests, former (escaped) slaves, shapechangers, psionic adventurers and more (psionics are banned on pain of death, within the empire).

The characters were then placed in the situation at hand (Alternative earth Roman colonists just leaving to set up a colony in the newly discovered Americas.

I set it up this way for several reasons: I have long tired of players feeling obligated to play a cleric "because we need one", and I wanted all the players to play a character (with goals and interests) they really wanted. I also wanted there to be conflict of interest, and not so obvious "single adventure". Encouraging more dialogue between conflicting parties and interests. And removing the irritating "what are we doing here again?"

So far, I must, the game has exceeded my expectations, with far more pro-active play from everyone, than I have ever seen.
 

SelcSilverhand

First Post
I ran a short evil campaign for a few of my players. They played Kobolds that stole a dragons egg from their corrupt king who was going to devour it to gain the dragons strength. They fled to the frontier and had to find a new lair, clean out the denizens, tailor it with traps, raid nearby humanoid villages, and finally fend off their former ruler who arrived to steal back the egg.

It ended up being the Diet Coke of Evil, but they still enjoyed the freedom to make whatever decisions they wanted. Using poisons, attacking humans, torturing prisoners (strictly controlled to make sure it didn't offend anyone), etc.

The players were loosely tied by having the same philosphy, which was to hatch the egg and serve a dragon. The Lawful Evil guy wanted to raise the dragon with him as a trusted advisor and be a power behind the throne. Others wanted to rule over their fellow kobolds and were vicious overseers and slavers of the other races. Mostly they enjoyed playing "adventurer fodder" and being challenged by normal stuff like dire rats, bats, underdark cave monsters, and hungry forest creatures.

It was only my second attempt at DM'ing but it turned out to be pretty good. Make sure you players have a solid reason to work together, likes others have said, otherwise they will try to kill each other for positions of power. Establish clear boundries of what subjects you will permit at the table. Talking of torture, slavery, and rape will quickly turn off the average player to the game. Decide how descriptive you will allow players to be when they describe their acts and don't be afraid to cut them off before they go too far.
 

aboyd

First Post
I'm currently running my players through Tower of the Last Baron. It's an infiltration module, which assumes that the baron is a bad dude and the good guys are part of a secret resistance to take him out. My players are all evil or close to it, and I found that switching Tower of the Last Baron for an evil campaign was supremely easy. What did it involve? Switching all the good guys to have evil alignment. That's it. Now the bad guys have a secret alliance to overthrow Mr. Goody Two-Shoes.

I imagine that Harley Stroh's "Into the Wilds" would be the same. It involves going into a village and overthrowing a mean woman who wants to usurp the throne. If instead the players are tasked to protect the evil ruler from good usurpers, that seems plausible and easy to change.
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
I'd like to chime in and mention a few things about pre-made dungeons et al.

My friend and I decided that we would rail against tradition and make a non-standard party to poke fun at the 'hero' stereotype. I am currently running said party through Ruins of the Dragon Lord (d20 full campaign setting from Mongoose Publishing).

The party consists of a female Dark Elf, a Gnoll, a Duergar, and a Goblin; the story began as they banded together for survival after fleeing the Underdark and happened across a "surface" town of humans. The camapign unfolds as usual, save that these "evil" Humanoids (actually CG, CN, LE, CN in that order) are the heroes.

Throughout the module, there are times where NPCs are helpful so long as "the party appears trustworthy". This party does not. There are encounters with, um, other races in the campaign that most typical heroes would slay on sight, but this party can associate with them.

My point is simply this: in an Evil campaign, using pre-gen dungeons, the Goal is almost always alignment-neutral. How and why the Evil PC's decide to take the hook is up to the players.
 


Dredan

First Post
Swedish: Couple things, DM'n for over 10 years and playing for over 20 years, there is a few things about evil campaigns (if the characters are actually evil and want to play evil), first evil party's will attack each other and kill each other unless they are

A) Lawful evil
B) some other evil alignment but have a common goal with the part, but still the Chaotic evil will kill whenever it suits him, for no rhyme or reason other then for the pure joy of it, and well the Neutral evil is just evil incarnate itself, its purely selfish, driven but whatever goal and will use and discard whenever anyone of any power starts either getting stronger or is no longer needed. If evil is played correctly the party probably will not stay together long either because power struggles within the group or you have the lawfuls maintaining some order or keeping the other evils in check out of brute force.

Most of the evil campaigns listed above aren't evil....they are trying to be evil but they are still doing some sort of flavor of "good" help this thing, rescue this for that, true evils would take what they want, subjugate ones that can be forced and neutralize others that are in the way.

Usually the evil campaigns work well for short term campaign goals to establish a force of evil in the campaign and it is a good segway for players to try it out and then have them build a party of neutrals and good and let them try to fix the evil in the area. What this allows is the party to play together without killing each other off and occasionally when the good party comes across this evil its actually one of their other characters that they can use to fight against the party. Its quite entertaining. One suggestion as a DM when doing this, is if the good party runs across one of the players evil characters..that player has a choice, give the DM one of the character sheets, evil or good player to play as an NPC, that way the player can play evil or good that night and either way he will be fighting to save his character!

Final note and shameless plug...your group played d20 modern as well as 3.5 setting. Check out the campaign setting we published. It is a mixture of your Traveller/D20 modern and 3.5 DnD. This campaign setting puts it all into one setting. The evil race of the setting can be played by players and it goes into great detail on how the evil race is, how they become evil, and how the futuristic and fantasy mix together. The setting exists in a material plane nested between the positive and negative planes so there is both influences from these planes here. Its a complete work up of new races, prestige classes and over 75 worlds to choose from in the plane. Some are more modern worlds and others are more DnD barbaric as the technology side views them.

It comes equipped with new spells, deities (evil and good) items, equipment magic and technology based.

The PDF is for sale for only $9.99 but if you purchase the book, email me specifically and I will send you though full PDF version for free with a few other goodies. Only reason I am posting this is this setting would be a perfect fit for your players and they wouldn't need to learn a new system, its still 3.5. If you have any questions or want a few tidbits to preview, email me or send me a message.

Regards
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Great information and ideas. Many thanks, to everyone!

One thing I would say Swedish Chef is that even if the group is playing small "e"vil as a group, that you shouldn't categorically rule out allowing PVP. If a player wants to poison another player that has offended him or thwarted him, I would say allow it.

Also, it's not such a big stretch to get reasons for Evil character to follow a plot, just need wealth and power as the ultimate goal for them as others have said, "save that person? Sure for a reward..." etc.
 

Jorael

First Post
I would have to say that msot of the time, an evil campaign (or Evil, like the one I was in... more later) is much more involved than a "good" campaign. In a good campaign, you need very little to motivate your characters; a damsel in distress, a big pile of gold, a kingdom under siege. In an evil campaign, you really need to work out the motivations of the PC's.

In the Evil campaign I played in, each player had a definite goal in mind. Mind you, we were, at the time, deployed to Iraq, and all needed a sort of release. Our cleric (worshipper of Afflux) wanted power for himself and his god, and would do anything to get it (kidnapping of the local hero's sister and ritual sacrifice). Our rogue made a deal with the nearby black dragon to replace his missing arm, which gave him bonuses but occasionally choked him if he wasn't obeying his "master" (excellent plot device). The rogue also died at one point, and his soul was transferred to a Mohrg, which changed his goals completely. Our monk was actually CE, and did whatever he felt like, unless the cleric intervened. The barbarian (and later blackguard) had a CE streak, but mostly wanted a throne of bones to sit on. The ninja was working his way up the chain of assassins in the city, to become their leader. And my swashbuckler... well, he wanted everyone to love him, really. The Charm Eye he had transplanted into a (very) recently empty socket helped a lot.

Yes, we did have the BoVD, but GS is correct, it's all up to comfort level. I'd avoid our depths of depravity in your game, considering the players.

...My point was that your characters need to be in-depth, with more history than "My village was slaughtered by orcs so I became a fighter to kill things and be strong."

Also think about little touches you can add, such as; when our cleric, being of an evil god, cast a cure spell, it healed the PC's, but caused considerable pain in the process. His Bless spell caused our eyes to glow red and the room to get cold. Little things like that can really set the mood.

Hope you have fun!
 

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