D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil
Welcome to the dark side of Dungeons and Dragons. Today we’re looking at the only evil alignment, in my opinion, that would make sense to join a generally good adventuring party, and that is why they make an interesting character. I also think that Lawful Evil makes for the most interesting alignment for your BBEG.
The reason I think that it makes a good BBEG, is because when you are lawful evil, you still have a set of rules around what you are going to do. A chaotic evil BBEG would have no issues killing off a 1st level adventuring party if they messed one thing up for them. A Lawful Evil BBEG would see that the adventuring party has some promise and try and twist them into joining them or to use them to unwittingly help the BBEG. Thanos is an an example of a lawful evil BBEG, in the movie, in the comics, he’s doing everything to impress Death because he has a Thanos crush. But in the movie, while his plan of destroying have the living beings won’t solve the problem forever, and there are better options, it’s the option he came up with so he’s sticking to it. But he has rules around doing what he is doing. And that is what you want when creating a BBEG for a game, someone who has rules, who has a reason to monologue at the end.
But, what about on the other side of the DM’s screen for the PC’s. I made a pretty bold statement saying that a lawful evil character is the only one that would join a non-evil adventuring party. Why do I say that? This is similar to your BBEG who has their plan, a lawful evil character is going to be willing to join up with an adventuring party to help complete their own goal or to help stop the BBEG of the game, because it would have a negative effect on their plans as a whole.
A good example of this would be someone in a thieve’s guild. A thieve’s guild isn’t about stealing stuff at random, they are concerned about running the secondary market and the market on illegal goods in a city. If they get out of control, the city guard is going to crush them. Instead they are focused on staying just out of sight and just behind the scene and actually bolstering up the town so that the city leaders are fine having them commit crimes because if they take them out, whomever replaces them would likely be worse.
Now, that might not make the best adventurer, but you can certainly tie in pieces of that to a character. In that case, you would probably have to focus at least some of the story on that character, probably based around something threatening the balance of that the city and the thieve’s guild have. But even in that case, it can be a side plot, and maybe your character has to work with the adventuring party to gain their trust prior to them helping them with this somewhat questionable thing.
But back to the alignment. A lawful evil character is going to have their own set of rules that creates their laws. Now, some of those laws that they follow might be the actual laws, but most of them are going to be self imposed rules. An example of this for a character, they might not have an issue killing their rivals in cold blood, but they also might not let mind altering potions into the black market because they don’t want to potentially cause chaos. So both of those things might be illegal in the town or nation, but the lawful evil character will only follow one, because it’s good for them.
Another reason that I think that a lawful evil player character is interesting as well, is that a lawful evil character is more likely to have a long term plan. Going back to the Thanos example, in the MCU, he has a plan that he slowly spends time on, he doesn’t grab the infinity stones in a day. In the comics, there is a whole lot more that Thanos does impulsively. So when you roll up a lawful evil character, come up with your long term plan, of what you really want to work towards. For example, maybe you want to take over the government with as little bloodshed as possible, not because the government is at all bad, but because you want to rule. So you could join up with the adventuring party to go to various towns, pay out bribes, make a few threats, and schmooze to get a groundswell of support, and that would be your long term plan, but you team up with the group on their adventurers to be able to do that.
Even with all that said, I do think that you need to really think before you take a lawful evil character into a generally good game. Mainly because as a player there is going to be a lot more work for you in the game than if your alignment is closer to that of the rest of the characters in the game. You are going to have to do your evil things away from the group otherwise you might become their next target. This is easy enough by focusing on it as downtime activities and stuff between sessions when it’s appropriate. But you also have to keep a reason around why you’d continue adventuring. This means that your evil plan is progressing or at least, you are stopping someone else’s evil plan that would interfere with your own. And that is on you, as much as the DM, to do in the game, because the DM has the rest of the table to focus on as well.
I want to add in one final thing that you could think about as well. If you want to play a lawful evil character and drop a big surprise in the game, you can work it out with your DM that your character is going to be the BBEG when all is said and done. Maybe there is another “BBEG” who is doing what you want to do, just not as well, so you have to take them out to take over for them. That would be a great twist to put on the rest of the players at the table, and would be a moment that people remember. I would say, if you do this, once it’s revealed that your character is actually the BBEG, the DM takes over and you pull out your new character who will join the party. That way it doesn’t feel like the odds start to stack up against the players. Unless it’s the case where your character goes BBEG and you immediately have a fight and whatever side wins, that ends the game. Or, one final way to keep control of your character would be to take over yourself as the DM and the DM can pull out a character sheet, which would be a fun twist as well.
Would you play a lawful evil character in a game? Have you played one, and was it in a good campaign? How did it go, if you have?
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