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Games Where Player Characters are the Bad Guys

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
From the way you're describing it (haven't read it, life's too short for all the great media out there), sounds like they were going for Dredd being the best of a bad lot, i.e. he's a relatively humane person in a very inhumane role. Lots of excellent fiction has been made out of depicting moral shades of grey, including areas where it's not clear who's more evil or what the right thing is.

Vampire lets you play bad guys or worse guys (or gals), and Kult characters can definitely behave in an evil fashion. Mage had guides to playing the Technocracy, though they had gotten more morally ambiguous by that point. Munchkin was made into an RPG briefly, and leaned heavily into the more sociopathic elements of dungeon fantasy. As people argue, by-the-book D&D could be considered a bad guy game.

Delta Green, ironically, is less of a clear case than people are saying. Yes, they engage in all kinds of extrajudicial killings of innocents and the things we criticize governments for doing, but in this case they actually have a valid point-- the escape of the Cthulhu Mythos entities would mean the end of humanity in many cases. IT's definitely aimed at a noir (Vantanoir?) atmosphere, though.
 

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Celebrim

Legend
Delta Green, ironically, is less of a clear case than people are saying. Yes, they engage in all kinds of extrajudicial killings of innocents and the things we criticize governments for doing, but in this case they actually have a valid point-- the escape of the Cthulhu Mythos entities would mean the end of humanity in many cases.

Again, I go back up to the surprisingly strong definition of good the OP gave, and if we accept that definition and we accept the conceits about the situation that humanity finds itself in any CoC campaign, then it's very hard for the investigators to be anything but good guys. So long as the investigators remain free of mythos taint and are helping humanity remain free of it, then almost anything is justified. Only if their motives are compromised so that they are actually helping the mythos or helping bring about the end of humanity can we really condemn them. But IME the players accept without question that they should be stopping the mythos as one of the conceits of the game and stay on plot. And in doing so we do often get into a situation where the ends are justifying the means. After all, if the ends couldn't justify the means, what else ever could? And under the terms of CoC the means not being justifiable by the ends would probably be using the mythos against itself to the point that the PC's are mythos tainted and becoming the very danger that they were trying to stop. That is to say, it's almost impossible to become a mythos sorcerer without going insane and becoming a mythos sorcerer, which would therefore be a case of questionable means despite the claimed ends (like attempting to use the One Ring to overthrow Sauron).
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Ah, I forgot. A little obscure but the 90s RPG Nephilim has players playing spirits who possess humans and take over their lives, which most of us would consider evil. I think WW's Geist in the New World of Darkness got around that by having them die first.
 


In 'black crusade' you play chaos worshippers in 40k. They tend to be pretty bad types.
I was going to list that one. They kinda copped out a bit though, all the published material was based around your chaos worshippers fighting other chaos worshippers for dominance, rather than actually crusading out into the imperium and fighting space marines etc.
 

MGibster

Legend
Warhammer 40k isn't a game where the PCs are necessarily the bad guys, but the Imperium most definitely isn't the good guy. In many ways, the biggest threat to humanity is the Imperium itself. Anything you do to keep the shambling corpse of the Imperium moving for just one more day means supporting the most vile regime in human history.
 

Delta Green, ironically, is less of a clear case than people are saying. Yes, they engage in all kinds of extrajudicial killings of innocents and the things we criticize governments for doing, but in this case they actually have a valid point-- the escape of the Cthulhu Mythos entities would mean the end of humanity in many cases. IT's definitely aimed at a noir (Vantanoir?) atmosphere, though.

I don't think any of us who've pointed to Delta Green as an example of playing the bad guys are necessarily saying that you're playing clear-cut, moustache-twirling villains. But it definitely up-ends a lot of common tropes—in basically any other story where unsanctioned federal agents are not only suppressing the crusading journalist's bombshell expose, but possibly framing or even killing the journalist, those feds would be the bad guys. So your reasons might be righteous and considered, but you're certainly no great hero.

And I think it's worth considering the subtext of Delta Green, and who's writing it. The Arc Dream crew is not exactly composed of cop-loving supporters of the wars on terrorism/drugs/other countries. And yet they've made a game where you play what are essentially unhinged super cops. You're playing out a tragedy in DG, by playing products of past tragedies. It's a dark game!
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
I don't think any of us who've pointed to Delta Green as an example of playing the bad guys are necessarily saying that you're playing clear-cut, moustache-twirling villains. But it definitely up-ends a lot of common tropes—in basically any other story where unsanctioned federal agents are not only suppressing the crusading journalist's bombshell expose, but possibly framing or even killing the journalist, those feds would be the bad guys. So your reasons might be righteous and considered, but you're certainly no great hero.

And I think it's worth considering the subtext of Delta Green, and who's writing it. The Arc Dream crew is not exactly composed of cop-loving supporters of the wars on terrorism/drugs/other countries. And yet they've made a game where you play what are essentially unhinged super cops. You're playing out a tragedy in DG, by playing products of past tragedies. It's a dark game!
Oh absolutely. I guess my point is you're not really 'the bad guys' in the common narrative sense of an evil antagonist more evil than the protagonist--you're the 'less bad guys', since the Mythos escaping will kill everyone. The narrative structure of 'protagonist less evil than antagonist' is preserved.

Most RPG designers lean left, for whatever reason, so yeah, I'm sure you're right about that. I suspect they wanted to do a conspiracy game with the Cthulhu Mythos and ran from there. It's also interesting to consider what could happen if the Mythos was confronted by people trained in combat and investigation, rather than dilettantes and random people as in Call of Cthulhu--in D&D terms, baseline CoC is 0-levels/commoners wandering into the dungeon, Delta Green is 3rd-5th level adventuring parties (but there's a beholder on the 1st level). But the game's been around long enough they've probably talked about their design inspiration somewhere.

I mean, I think a lot of these games are excuses for people to do socially unacceptable things, including to their own social circle; maybe they found a way to play Dirty Harry. D&D is 'kill monsters and take their stuff'. Doesn't bother me that much. Lots of people like to rebel--there were medieval monks drawing fart jokes in the margins of manuscripts.
 
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Bagpuss

Legend
The only game I know where the character is a villain is Vampire: The Masquerade.

And Mage the Ascension - Where the standard campaign are the players working against the Technocracy to keep magic (like steam power, mobile phones and other labour saving devices) out of the hands of everyone else. ;-)
 

Bagpuss

Legend
Any Warhammer 40K based RPG, there are no good guys in that setting.

Judge Dredd RPG, even the best Judge is still a cog in a fascist society.

Hollowpoint, Fiasco and other similar games where players are crooks involved in some sort of heist.
 

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