Would you buy a rules free/light evil/mature product

Would you purchase an evil/mature game product if available?

  • Yes, I'm a consenting adult

    Votes: 10 13.3%
  • Yes, if I were a consenting adult

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No, I prefer my heroes to be good when they kill things

    Votes: 34 45.3%
  • Maybe, depends on who wrote it and how it was presented

    Votes: 31 41.3%


I answered "maybe". It depends on what kind of "evil" and "mature" topics the author wants to address and how well is the book written.

What I'd like to read about:
- A consistent description of what "evil" means in the context of given setting and what it does not. Modern ethics are completely unfit to most fantasy games, so we need a definition to know what the author is talking about.
- Importance of clear social contract in a game with mature themes. Which topics do we want to address, which we want to avoid? Do we limit how far we're going to go and, if, so, how? Etc.
- How to create characters that are indisputably evil, but have sensible personalities and motivations and are playable in a party. How can an evil character be heroic (even better: heroic and disturbing at the same time)? How characters fall? How they are redeemed?
- How to create villains that are not "evil for evil's sake", but have coherent reasons for their atrocities. How to make evil repulsive, how to make it fascinating?
- Examples of evil societies that are not self-destructive; what shaped them this way, how they develop, what problems they face, what makes them stable. How do they look from inside, how from outside. That would also be a good place to give examples of coherent and sensible worldviews that are definitely evil.

What I don't need to see:
- Evil races, classes, spells, items etc.
- New, "more evil" or sexually themed monsters
- "Evil aesthetics" and other traits of comic-book villainy
- Calling things that are heroic in given genre evil

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I have no problems with more mature/darker themes. As several others have already pointed out, the quality of the writing and, for me, art are key. I think that this kind of product works best as a "toolbox" that one can import to a session/campaign, as needed, to support the story. I don't think that they succeed so well when they "are" the story.



I'm quite happy to buy evil themed things. I own Book of Fiends, both Fiendish Codexes, the Slayer's Guide to Demons, and both Encyclopedias of Demons and Devils, for example. I own the drow book Plot and Poison. I also have Conan stuff and Thieves' World stuff. I even have the rules free Freeport Pirate's Guide and Cults of Freeport.


My reasoning for going with an independent campaign is that if you tie the product to an existing world, such as Conan, Elric, Black Company, and such, you’re placing the product into a niche right off the start because you’re limiting yourself to the people who know the world or might be interested in it as a game. A generic fresh setting should appeal to a bigger market, though I guess if you would choose the right IP if you went with an existing world you might get a bigger target than a fresh setting.

Art is definitely the key no matter what. As mentioned if you go too far then many will consider it porn and if you don’t go far enough then most would look at it as you’re just billing it mature to gather sales. Thematic art with the right touch would more than work I think. A good example of existing art would be in the Conan RPG we’ve mentioned. Most of the artwork hallmarks toward Frazetta and Boris in nature with nudity being mainly exposed breasts if even that.

If we use history as an example, say the ancient Greeks during the Olympics, public nudity was allowed under given circumstances. Males competed in the nude at the games while single women were allowed to attend, wearing togas with one breast revealed. If we switch to fantasy art we could have gladiators fighting to the death nude (which in some places may have happened historically) while nubile females watch on. The point of the matter is these are elements of maturity art wise that seldom get addressed in gaming, and usually glossed over in back story. How many times have we heard about priestess of a goddess of fertility or sex, but seldom do you see in game the real portray of these people, i.e. wearing revealing clothing, spreading their message in a form of prostitution on the streets, and so forth. I’m not saying we need to see the sex, but showing a priestess half dressed trying to lure a prospective “convert” into the temple would be appropriate art in the section covering that god or goddess.

I will relent on the evil aspect in that perhaps it should be presented as amoral and not strictly evil. The themes and topics should address the hard choices we sometimes have to make and the way people will often take the easy way out of them. I mentioned Dragon Age earlier which is renowned now for its presentation of amoral and hard decisions, i.e. choosing political sides in an attempt to gain people for an army where one side may have killed hundreds in order to gain more land while the other may deal with slavery (this doesn’t reflect actual DA decisions only serving as an example of what it might be like). The reasons for killing an opponent in game are an issue of morality as well. To many times the morality isn’t addressed if you think about it as the party ventures through the world, often killing indiscriminately, as to why they are killing other than survival. Why don’t they allow the elf to live or turn him over to authorities after they were attacked in the back alley? More to the point, why don’t they resuscitate and then turn them over or allow them to live? Those are questions of maturity that that tend to get left out in regular games where a mature themed game pushes them to the front and demands they be answered. Not everything mature needs to be addressed in detail, but if confronted I think it needs to be explored so that true character development can be discovered.

So I guess my general intention in asking my initial question would be “if evil or amorality were presented in a mature way as the overall theme of the setting/products would it sell, especially if presented in a more generic presentation so as to apply to more game systems?


Art is definitely the key no matter what. As mentioned if you go too far then many will consider it porn and if you don’t go far enough then most would look at it as you’re just billing it mature to gather sales. Thematic art with the right touch would more than work I think. A good example of existing art would be in the Conan RPG we’ve mentioned. Most of the artwork hallmarks toward Frazetta and Boris in nature with nudity being mainly exposed breasts if even that.

I think you might be focusing a bit too much on the content of Frazetta's work rather than style and technique. (Everything I'm about to say could also be applied to other Frazetta-style artists, but I'll stick with Frank for simplicity.) The reason Frazetta's stuff is so evocative is his mastery of anatomy, realistic portrayal of the human form, and focus on that form rather than elaborate gewgaws.

Fantasy artists tend to portray characters in ridiculously elaborate costumes--even if it reveals a lot of skin, the sheer improbableness and impracticality of the costume distract the viewer from the person inside it. In the last decade or two, I have also noticed a tendency to make characters look more and more like CGI creations. They're cartoonishly smooth, brightly colored and brightly lit, and shiny clean.

Frazetta was far more interested in the human form than the stuff covering it. His characters mostly wear simple, minimal costumes. One gets the feeling that he would have preferred to make them all nude and only added bits of cloth as a concession to society's collective hangups. Furthermore, the characters are at the center of every scene. Frazetta's backgrounds stay very much in the background; it's the people he wants to show you, not the scenery. Finally, everything is portrayed with great realism, suggesting a world of dirt and sweat and blood.

All of this means that Frazetta's work seems more erotic than most fantasy art, even if the amount of skin on display is the same. No matter how much is revealed, a WoW-style character is always going to look like CGI, but a Frazetta character looks like a real person; and since the scene is designed to focus your eye on that character and nothing else, your reaction is bound to be stronger.

Perhaps it's that realistic, character-centered art style you're looking for, not nudity per se.
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My initial answer was "no".

The reasons are :
- Most gamers are not mature enough to enjoy this and roleplay it comfortably (yes even in my group)
- Most products of this kind I have seen were either boring or ridiculous.

the only thing I have liked in this vein was Thieves world by Green Ronin.

OTOH, I'd like to see a campaign offering the option to play evil ... if you wan't too. And then the PC would have to choose. But it'd need to be subtle, and mostly to offer complete freedom to the player.

say ... Fallout 2-like would be something I'd buy

But : Evil as a mandatory premise ? No

Aust Diamondew

First Post
Books marketed as 'evil' or 'mature' don't appeal to me, IME, those themes aren't hard to add to a game. Such books seem more about shock factor than anything else.

PCs in my experience tend to be anti heroes or have amoral tendencies without any need for encouragement or special accommodation. Characters who are EVIL tend to be boring sociopaths. Many adventures work just as well for evil PCs as good PCs (since loot is a big motivation).

Now that I'm thinking about it, if someone made a setting/game/adventures for really over the top, silly, cartoonishly evil characters that could be a fun.


No I don't, for two reasons - both IMO.

1. Evil is boring.
2. Sex is fun when you're having it. Talking about it is boring.

joe b.

i'm not gonna say evil is boring all the time. but i would say that it does tend to run out of the charm.

and as a player i don't want to roleplay rape scenes. or kidnapping or torture or beheading prisoners or maiming small children or pets. or etc...

as a referee i will run the npcs who do these things. but my hope is the players and their pcs will negate the harms done and right the wrongs or come up with heroic solutions.

and i would only buy the product if it were compatible with the system i am running.


In the thread “What could a publisher sell you RIGHT NOW” I discussed with a few others about the marketing of evil/mature material. One thing I pointed out is that if a company was to step up and fill this niche, making products on a regular basis, it would need to make the products rules light or applicable to more than one system. Thus not limiting themselves to one specific game as the products listed below did.

Here are examples of product ideas which could be or have already been done before but could be rehashed under the OGL or made rules light:

An evil/mature campaign world for evil PCs
Book of Vile Darkness
Book of Erotic Fantasy
Evil centered modules
Evil themed character classes (i.e. Assassin, Blackguard, etc)

My question is do you think the rpg market is broad enough to support such a niche market?

Seeing as how you listed what was quite possibly two of the worst books to come out of 3.x...?

Yeah. No.

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