You’ve had a long running campaign. The players were really into the story. They’d spent a bunch of time planning on how to infiltrate this tower. You’d told them the wizard in it was too powerful to fight. Everything is going to plan… LEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOY JENKINS!…
We’re wrapping up our D&D alignments today with your most evil character as we look at Chaotic Evil. Now, I say most evil, but I don’t think that it has to be, I think that when people want to play that really evil character, though, in an evil campaign, this is often what they’ll change. Though, I think you could argue that Neutral Evil might be more evil.
When people play Chaotic Evil, they generally play it, since they are chaotic that they have a get out of jail free card. Basically, I’m the hero of my own story, therefore, I can do whatever I want and the DM will make it work out in the end. Much the mindset of the Chaotic Neutral character who is actually Chaotic Evil. So your Chaotic Evil character is going to go around stabbing people and generally causing as much trouble as possible, and you should get away with it.
In an evil based game, even, that mindset isn’t going to work. You’re going to have the law after you at some point in time. Someone like The Joker who just does bad stuff for the sake of it still gets beat up by Batman and then arrested. And that is likely to happen to your character as well. I think that The Joker is a fairly good example of what you might do as a Chaotic Evil character however.
Mainly, The Joker doesn’t go around stabbing everyone, even though he’s not above it. Instead he’s just trying to create as much havoc as possible, and when there is havoc, he feels like he’s succeeded. So, in an evil campaign, you can take it that direction by going for more and more chaos and destabilizing of an area, versus just leaving a trail of bodies in your wake. That doesn’t mean that you might not stab someone along the way, but it isn’t the modus operandi of a good Chaotic Evil character or of the Joker. If we look at The Dark Knight, we see how the Joker makes Batman make choices, but then lies about what the different options actually are, just to mess with Batman, that’s very chaotic evil.
Let’s talk quickly about what classes might make the most sense for a Chaotic Evil character. Again, most of them are going to work, with things like a Paladin or Cleric being the hardest to fit into there, and I think that a Monk or Druid would be tricky as well. Bot of those classes lean into discipline or harmony with nature, so there would have be some event that you’d need to lean into that causes them to be that way. If you do just want to be the murder character, the Barbarian is going to make a lot of sense, and a Rogue would be very effective at it as well.
If I were to play a Chaotic Evil character, I would play a Wizard, personally. The reason for that is that an illusionist Wizard would have a fun tool bag to mess around with. And with a character like that, you don’t have to murder everyone, but can instead make someone feel like they are going insane, which is probably worse than just being murdered. But as a player, I would feel better playing that versus just a random character who wants to murder everyone. Other spell casters would work well for this as well. It’s almost like Loki can be, with the story that Thor tells in Thor: Rangorak, where Loki turned into a snake and then back into himself to scare Thor, something like that.
But even with that, I would be careful about playing a chaotic evil character. I actually be careful about playing with someone who really wants to play a Chaotic Evil character. There are plenty of ways with any evil character to go very dark, and Neutral Evil and Chaotic Evil are going to be more apt to go that direction.
Have you played in an evil game with a Chaotic Evil character? Have you played in a good game with a Chaotic Evil character? How did that work for you and the rest of the party?
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We’re onto the last column of alignments, and we’re looking at those chaotic characters. I think, and on the Total Party Thrill podcast they talk about this, chaotic good should be the default position for most adventurers. When you think about it, most adventurers don’t…
Yes, I’m a bad guy, and I don’t have much reason for being a bad guy, but I wanted to be evil. That’s what Neutral Evil is.
A Neutral Evil character is going to be hard to fit into a party, unless the game is an evil game. While a lawful evil character is going to go along with the party if it helps their goal and a chaotic evil character is going to mess with everything, a neutral evil character just wants to be evil. So the second the rest of the party does anything altruistic the neutral evil character is just going to be out or going to stab them in the back and hand them over to the BBEG.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the Neutral Evil alignment isn’t one that you can’t play in a game. But they are going to have a desire to be the BBEG themselves and that would be their goal. And they would just focus on that versus anything else that the players are doing. So, even if the players are going to destroy the artifact that the BBEG needs for his power and our neutral evil character wants to claim it as their own, they aren’t going to be apt to step in and help on a side quest that is good. And while they might put up with it once in a while, they are going to leave the party, at least with normal motivations for a neutral evil character, and find their own evil party.
So, if you do want to play a neutral evil character, it’s going to be a lot of work for you, in a mixed party. You are going to have to come up with the reasons why your character is going to stick around, because it’s going to be hard for the DM to throw consistent hooks for you. Because the hooks are going to be basically the opposite for any good character. Whether that means your character sits back and stays out of combat as long as they can in a good cause, or don’t help negotiate the release of kidnapped children, or it means that your character just goes off to further their evil goals while those things happen, that’s going to be up to you.
For me, I think the way that I would make this work is to have my neutral evil character to be the researcher. So if I’m there, I can join the party on stuff, but otherwise, I’d send them away from the party during times of the party doing good to research what is needed to find that artifact or whatever the BBEG needs, so that we can further that line of the quest, because that’s what I would care about. It would also lead closer to the moment when I stab the party in the back so that I can enact the same plot.
As for what classes work? A fallen Paladin or a Paladin of an evil deity would make a lot of sense, someone who has been corrupted. The thief rogue who is in it just for themselves. But someone like an assassin rogue would work, and it could be that they just assassinate for fun or to get more money for their evil plan. But being an assassin in and of itself is more of a lawful role. Like all D&D alignments, all of them are going to be possible to use, even if some of them, like Cleric, don’t work as well.
Finally, just to drive home the point. A neutral evil character is all about the evil. They are going to have their evil goals, but the evil goals aren’t tied into some other thing, it is just about being evil. A lawful evil character might want to take over the lands because they think that they can get rich and revenge on someone who did them wrong, but a lawful evil character isn’t going to care about the end goal, they are going to care about being evil, so even if they don’t end up ruling the lands, if they get a sufficient amount of suffering into the world, that’s what they wanted anyways.
Would you allow a neutral evil character into your game with other characters who aren’t evil? Have you played a neutral evil character in a game with non-evil characters? What did you have to do to make that work?
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Final topic for things to think about with a party. We’re going to try and figure out what alignments you should have in your adventuring party. Probably a trickier subject because some people really don’t want an evil character with their good character, or they…