5E How to play an evil cleric

Quartz

Adventurer
I've come across this delicious description on Quora. Here's the start:

Really want to mess with the rest of the party? Then support them wholeheartedly.

LAWFUL GOOD PALADIN: Excuse me, uh, Father…. Zorgoth?

CHAOTIC EVIL CLERIC: Yes, my son? Do come in, I was just making tea.

LGP: Um, Father, I couldn’t help noticing, when you cast that ritual to destroy the goblins, that you rather let slip you were a priest of…. ahem…. “Bloodgar the Smiter.”

CEC: Yes, of course. Biscuit?
Enjoy!
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
I played a lawful evil cleric of Vecna once. It was a campaign that we knew would be shorter term while a couple of the other players wouldn't be able to make it for a while. I think the most important thing is to make it clear to the rest of the party that you are entirely on their side.

In my case we were crew members of a ship where my character was absolutely loyal to the chain of command. He would offer suggestions and advice to the captain but the captain's orders were followed without question. This was because the opportunity of being on a ship allowed him to collect knowledge as well as wealth. So in the long run it was beneficial to keep that relationship and help the party succeed. As a cleric I still healed and buffed my party and offered my knowledge domain divination magic when discussing what we should do.

On the roleplay side of things he wasn't nice, and some of the other characters didn't like him. He was just that one coworker who is kinda creepy but very good at his job.
 

Aebir-Toril

Creator of the Elfgrinder Mech
When I play evil characters, my personal interpretation of evil is always something I fall back on. With most of my evil characters, their bonds may not differ too much from those of a neutral character. Even evil people can love their family and want to protect their friends and allies. Sometimes, evil people can think that they are good.

It would require a change of philosophy for me to believe in entirely objective evil and good, but I think we can agree that such things could exist. And, across many cultures, we see a common pattern of things that are evil.

I generally make evil characters selfish, and, although they may want to protect their friends and allies, they still may want to harm other people.
 

grimslade

Adventurer
The evil cleric PC is hard to integrate if you have traditional good characters. Evil characters aren't too bad if everyone is on board, you can be just selfish or brutal without much friction. An evil cleric is not just evil themselves, they are advocates and salespeople for Evil. So the Cleric of Hexxtor isn't just bloodthirsty, she promotes others to be bloodthirsty. Violence might not be the only solution, but it is the preferred solution. A paladin of Rao is not going to be simpatico with this PC. It also comes down to whether the character is evil or just the promoter of an evil deity or cause. The OP may not be CE himself but just a humble servant of Bloodgar the Smiter. Father Zorgoth just promotes the ancient harsh judgment of a traditional blood god. Simple times require a simple religion, and Blood for the Blood God, Smites for the Smiter worked for his grand pappy it will work for us.
 
An evil cleric understands that they're evil. They understand why their deity is evil. They accept this as truth, they merely also accept the necessity of it. With the exception of a truly demented deity, who's followers would have to be clinically insane (such as a worshiper of oblivion, who wishes to unmake the universe), evil deities have a cause and purpose that appeals to people, who often find a way to justify it.

Take for example, Iuz the Old, dread god of the north in the world of Greyhawk. In the southlands, far from his territory, his worshipers might not be considered as threatening. An evil god of Death might be understood as a necessary aspect of life. Without evil, good lacks meaning, which is why there is a balance between the two (yes, spoken like a true Neutral ;) ).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
An evil cleric understands that they're evil. They understand why their deity is evil. They accept this as truth, they merely also accept the necessity of it. With the exception of a truly demented deity, who's followers would have to be clinically insane (such as a worshiper of oblivion, who wishes to unmake the universe), evil deities have a cause and purpose that appeals to people, who often find a way to justify it.

Take for example, Iuz the Old, dread god of the north in the world of Greyhawk. In the southlands, far from his territory, his worshipers might not be considered as threatening. An evil god of Death might be understood as a necessary aspect of life. Without evil, good lacks meaning, which is why there is a balance between the two (yes, spoken like a true Neutral ;) ).
Maybe not. A lot if evil people don't believe they're evil.

Central American rain gods. Human sacrifice to make the sun come up.

Silly and evil now but they thought they were doing the right thing. May also have been population control with the available resources at least indirectly.
 
Maybe not. A lot if evil people don't believe they're evil.

Central American rain gods. Human sacrifice to make the sun come up.

Silly and evil now but they thought they were doing the right thing. May also have been population control with the available resources at least indirectly.
I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. While a lot of people don't think their evil, I would think that a cleric of an evil deity would understand, as they draw upon that power. Unlike in the modern world, good and evil in the D&D universe are considered absolutes, as defined by the difference between fiends and celestials. IRL what is considered good and evil modifies over time, as history has shown people performing what we now consider heinous in the name of good (the various crusades as an example).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. While a lot of people don't think their evil, I would think that a cleric of an evil deity would understand, as they draw upon that power. Unlike in the modern world, good and evil in the D&D universe are considered absolutes, as defined by the difference between fiends and celestials. IRL what is considered good and evil modifies over time, as history has shown people performing what we now consider heinous in the name of good (the various crusades as an example).
Evil has good PR.

At the time the Crusades were considered good because the land was taken by force to begin with and the Saracens weren't exactly behaving themselves (slavery, piracy,raiding etc). Snowballed when a Byzantine emperor wrote a letter asking for help.

In D&D terms you go forth to defend the Homeland but you have some infernal being whispering in people ears that the scorched Earth approach is a good thing.

City has surrendered but pillage it anyway. Or loot it anyway. For extra fun you can divert the Crusade and pillage your own allies city (1204).

So something simple as a succubus can create a lot of havoc.
 
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Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
Heck, I think I had replied to something similar in another thread some time ago.

I had a Lawful Evil Illrigger (Paladin) of Orcus sent to Greyhawk to aid Iuz. He ended up being the tutor to a LG Paladin of St.Cuthbert.

It is a differences of philosophy.

Good/Evil Jedi/Sith

Just look how long Palatine worked WITH the Jedi, and vice versa.
 

jgsugden

Adventurer
Lawful Evil is pretty easy to incrporate into any campaign. They follow rules. They abide by structures. All you need is a reason for that PC to cooperate with the 'good guys'.

Neutral Evil also works pretty easily. They do whatever they want to get ahead, but they do not need to be stupid. They can abide by rules they don't care about it if keeps them safe.

Chaotic Evil is harder. Their purpose is destruction. Even if they're smart, they're looking for a way to tear thigs down.

Evil PCs I have run for a decent amount of time:

* A LE enchanter. He developed magic to subjogate people, but as he was learning it he saw that people that gained loyalty via magic usually lost, while heroes that inspired loyalty won. Thus, his goal was to enslave the populace by convincing them to be loyal to him... to give him a devotion that could not be dispelled. Played him for a several months before the campaign stalled.

* A NE multi-class martial character that sought only power and fortune. He joined the wealthiest group he could find and agreed to abide by their rules. He hit them with a lot of utilitarian logic to try to convince them to do practical things - kill 5 to save 6. My goal was to trick the other characters down the slippery slope so that we could go after some of the real treasures... regardless of who had them. Unfortunately, there came a day when the party had to decide to decide whether to achieve a greater good or let him die... and he died.

* A tiefling worshipper of Asmodeus. Started as a ranger, then multiclassed into sorcerer and cleric. He was in a game that didn't use alignments, but he was all about redepmtion and sought to redeem his ancestors all thw way back to Asmodeus himself. He was big on the concept of necessary evils.
 

Bohandas

Explorer
I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. While a lot of people don't think their evil, I would think that a cleric of an evil deity would understand, as they draw upon that power. Unlike in the modern world, good and evil in the D&D universe are considered absolutes, as defined by the difference between fiends and celestials. IRL what is considered good and evil modifies over time, as history has shown people performing what we now consider heinous in the name of good (the various crusades as an example).
In theory good and evil in the D&D world should still be defined by consensus, just in a more roundabout way. They seem to be defined by the outer planes, and the outer planes are, in turn, defined by belief.
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
Well, I guess it would depend a lot of how you want the character to come across. I can easily see a cleric for an evil god, be all fire-and-brimstone, rallying people against a common foe...

We also have the question, on how much the gods care about the alignment and how the cleric gains more worshippers for their respective god as long as they get results. Some of the more gentle gods might not like it, and actually take steps against the cleric in question if he strays from their tenents. Others, might be quite fine with it.

A friend of mine, who grew up in a really evangelistical environment and went on to study religion, said that a lot of those people are basically worshipping Cthulhu.
 

aco175

Adventurer
You need a hook to develop over time. Some other suggested ideas for thought, but a guiding principal tohat may never come up. Thanos had his idea and then retired when it came about, or maybe you realize that it was wrong but too late to repent.

You could be evil since as a young pre-adventurer your whole village was destroyed by orcs and now you wish to kill them all. You can justify it by saying that you are trying to spare others the pain of loosing their whole village. You don't care about the logic of killing their whole village, or 1/2orcs, or others that may be working with them.
 

Todd Roybark

Adventurer
Central American rain gods. Human sacrifice to make the sun come up.
Human sacrifice is typically reserved for desperate times. Most of the bodies found at ATM, in Belize are from the same general time period, when the culture was under stress.

The normal, yearly ritual, was for the ruler or high priest, to puncture their foreskin with a needle as a sympathetic offering for rain.🍆 If that did not work then more extreme offers were made.

The Bog body evidence of Druidic human sacrifice in the U.K., corresponds with the Roman conquest.

An evil priest of a ‘good’ god is a viable route. Most gods are not omniscient. Greed, Lust, a desire for self aggrandizement are all avenues to explore.
 

Ogre Mage

Explorer
The first evil PC I played was Azia, a priestess of Lolth. She was the second daughter of a noble house in Menzoberranzan. The DM required that all PCs be evil, so she fit right in, lol.

My central idea for her character was that she was eternally jealous of her elder sister Xunay (also a PC and priestess of Lolth) but could not kill her because Xunay had the favor of both Lolth and our matron mother. Azia hid her bitterness and frustration around them and acted like a good team player. Instead, she took it out on those beneath her.

She was arguably the most terrible person I have ever played. She would whip underling males in the groin with her whip of fangs for doing the slightest thing wrong and she castrated one of them. She would rub salt in the wounds of ritual sacrifice victims so she could torture them more before they died. She summoned giant spiders so they would eat people alive as she listened to them scream.
 
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Tonguez

Hero
Priest “What do you mean I cant cut the heart out of this sacrificial virgin?”

Adventurer “Well you cant, its EVIL!”

Priest ”Do you mean evil Evil or Evil Evil? You see My god wants to feast on the essence of a virgins bloody heart, then he will restore the Sun - you know its all about the greater good”

Adventurer “But the sun came up today just fine”

Priest ”well yes thats because we sacrificed 13 virgins over the Holy Days, our zealots got a good catch that week”

Adventurer ”No, no, you cant do that, the Holy Doctrine of my Church condems that kind of stuff” casts detect evil

Adventurer “um - you detect as Lawful Neutral?”

Priest “see - its all for the greater good and the sake of tradition, youre not going to condemn our native traditions are you?”
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
My opinion is in the real life all societies who don't respect the Natural Law are doomed to self-destruction.

In the speculative fiction the evil groups without a common allegiance can't survive against other factions whose members accept the sacrifice for the group.

Fighting for the highest power is stupid when you don't get respect, but only be hated by the rest because the tallest poppiest is the first to wanted be cut.

In my own stories the most of people who believe in the judgment in the afterlife trie to be good. The antagonist who accepts to fall in the dark side of the Force is because his ideas are too close to Nietzsche's concept about the Übermensch or overman and master-slave morality. (In my humble opinion all those words are only a soft way to descript a true souless psychopat).
 

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