The Temptations of Evil Part One: Seven Sins

August 4th, 2008 by TheLemming (2) english,Roleplaying Games

Inspiration is everything. And rpgbloggers.com as blog-network is a great resource for inspiration it seems. With the feed online only a few hours, the mere stumbling through it – … – ah you better see it yourself.

Over at Gnome-Stew, Walt posted an interesting question in his latest posting – Hot Button: A Touch of Evil. And I have to admit, I thought about writing a mere comment on it, but then again it is a topic that accompanies me ever since I’ve switched (for a time) from D&D and other “hero” rpgs to the old World of Darkness – Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse,… (You probably know these games).

Back then it was the ultimate and absolute feeling of power – playing someone from the other side. But we all played characters that in the d20 alignment system would have been defined as “Chaotic Evil“. So we were pretty selfish and roleplaying was getting more of a competition than actual gaming together. It is a time now that I look back at with mixed feelings. A part of my rpg experience I do not want to have missed, but I’m really glad that I got back on track.

But enough on the introduction – let’s get on with the Temptations of Evil.

First Temptation – Pride

Pride makes a very good aspect of what I woud call lesser evil in a character concept. I think one of its best uses was demonstrated by Paul S. Kemp in his latest books – a Paladin tested by his faith, fighting his pride – challenged to the last bit of belief… but you best read it yourself in Shadowbred – the Paladin is named Abelar (but he is really hard to miss).

Second Temptation – Avarice

Avarice, defines dwarves. Of course not all and not only dwarves are greedy, but classic fiction shows so many examples and I think it’s of great use for role-playing archetypical dwarves, merchants and other classic concepts. It makes a good motivation, especially to avoid the classical tavern start of adventurers.

Third Temptation – Envy

Envy is more of a challenge in a concept. It makes a great approach for the single-evil character in a campaign. Ever had the chance to invite a player for a few or a single session? You know he’s a bit experienced in acting? You want to give your players a really special surprise? Introduce the adventurer as you would do with every other as well, but give the concept the envy template. He’s more than meets the eye and poses as a paladin that merely has heard of the party, but in fact he’s been an adventurer for years himself. He’s tried a lot and utterly failed in the past, then he heard of these adventurers… And they are famous – they got all the fame – his – fame. Everything he had worked so hard in the past and they snatched the big prize from him (when they last time rescued the princess or…. whatever else they recently achieved). So he plans on finding them and destroy their spirit from within. To attack them by night, once they trust him… It makes a great surprise (though you probably should not give the 1/2-NPC real assassin skills – this flavour element should be used cautious, as you might not want to kill the whole group – but still it makes a great ending).

Fourth Temptation – Wrath

Wrath is a strong driver of villains and heroes alike. It makes for great concepts – it’s a perfect driving force for a wholly evil group. It combines seemlessly with other sins – for whatever you have taken from one of the characters or whatever he could not achieve in the past might have invoked his hate and drives him now – madly towards that one target.

Fifth Temptation – Lust

Lust, probably only a subject in a-bit-more mature gaming groups… It tends to be the most problematic since strong emotions on the gaming table – and lust is probably one of the strongest emotions out there, can harm the game when the players are not working together well – and one player picked a “lust” motivation without proper consultation with his victim (just an example from one gaming group I’ve been part of years ago). On the other hand, it’s a great motivation and makes not only for a perfect villain theme, but for a great character concept with a touch (or more) of evil.

Sixth Temptation – Gluttony

I think gluttony is probably the worst of the seven sins to be incorporated into a game. Maybe a good approach for a villain theme. (Remember the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King scene with the Steward of Gondor – eating while his people suffer? It’s one of my favorites for ruthlessness and comes very close (imho) to gluttony). If you have an idea here, please tell me – I might be looking into an actual adventure concept that needs an idea here.

Seventh Temptation – Sloth

Use with caution. Absolute and utter laziness can be great – a wizard, cleric or psion that specializes in mental control – using mental slaves and summoned creatures to do his every bidding is my favorite concept here. It is one of the rare occassions that I would play a wizard casting a lot of spells without showing signs of exhaustion, while focussing on usage of summoned, bound and dominated individuals to serve his every bidding. It’s a great concept when properly used  – and – might have quite some “evil” in it – when you start using simple townsman to do your tasks in the beginning and later on???

Preview: Part 2 Other Temptations

or the different aspects of single evil characters vs. evil player campaigns

In the next article I will try to describe the advantages, challenges and disadvantages of evil in a roleplaying game from a different angle. A single character who is commiting evil acts versus a whole group that is part of an evil campaign (the typical drow party is a great example her).

2 Responses to “The Temptations of Evil Part One: Seven Sins”

  1. Wavatar Donny_the_DM Says:

    Another excellent article! Good work dude!

    As to your gluttony, and sloth oddly enough.

    …The beast lays about his throne, rheumy eyes surveying the terrified wretches below. Once the only son of a god, now an immobile mountain of flesh…

    Just because a BBEG is obese and lazy doesn’t make him any less dangerous. In fact, it makes him easy to underestimate!

    …Little did Sir Roderick know, the beast had no need of defenders. “You great bloated pusbag! I will…erk” The proud knight found himself lifted bodily from the ground. An irresistable force holding him as easily as a child would an insect.
    “Silly human” came the wet gurgling voice. “You thought to defeat me with what? This?” At that Roderick’s sword flew from it’s scabbard. It was enchanted, and had been in his family for 4 generations. That mattered little, as it snapped into a dozen pieces, and clattered to the floor.
    “Now, fool…It is time to do the same to you”…

    So the BBEG cannot move any longer, so what! He has a legion of thralls, and has the power to crush them into paste with a few moments of thought.

    3.5’s complete warrior had a great PrC for this, the master of the unseen hand. Just one little idea.

    Oh! And add lust if you want a truly, ahem – disturbing scene to play out.

  2. Wavatar TheLemming Says:

    Thanks for the idea Donny, great stuff!

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