[RPG] How to roleplay the evil character properly


I have started playing as an evil character in a group of neutral and good characters. We are traveling in a caravan through an undead-ridden world. No teleportation or plane traveling possible.

We travel from city to city (fortresses, really) to do trade, but we specifically handle protection.

My character is a human gish specialized on taking out mooks. Lots of low level monsters in encounters though we are level 12 now.

Now, I have decided to try a very evil character. We don't keep track of alignment but I consider her between LE and NE. My problem is that either I don't act evil or I'm Dick Dastardly in the "twists mustache while laughing maniacally" which is kinda ruining my character. Due to the setting, my character has reasons NOT to kill the people in the caravan, especially the PCs (paladin is twin brother, for the lulz).

I have searched for a guide on playing an evil character but I could not find decent direction save for stereotypical "kidnapping a princess and locking her in the tower". The most I have thought of was to Prestidigitation some rocks into gold coins and lacing them with contact poison to punish street urchins that kept stealing gold from us. Lots of undead have poison or disease to repeat this process.

I have seen D&D movie "Book of Vile Darkness" and the Vermin Lord was a bad example. More of that, enjoying the suffering of peasants I am trying to steer away from.

There are plenty of opportunities to commit evil deeds. There is always friction with new traders in the caravan (they come and leave the caravan depending on where we are headed and in which city we drop off/pick off traders) as well as old traders, but since they pay for food, my character has swallowed his pride. "Accidents" have happened to these hated fellows, my character can't be EVERYWHERE at once and some undead "slip" through the defenses. But this is not enough.

I don't have access to the Book of Vile Darkness nor the other one. I think its called Champions of Horror or something of the sorts. Any guidance to a good resource or even an example of your own character might give me the framework to base my character's behavior.

More about her, she was born in a city that got overrun by ghosts. Not many know she is a she because of clothing and sometimes a little magic and I sometimes refer to her as him to throw off pncs and pcs alike. She and some of the pcs (the original cast, some died and rerolled) escaped and found the first caravan, where they grew up in a diverse environment of skills and practices. Most of us have a mix of prestiges. As a child, many attempts to rape her came along but her brother came to her rescue. She got a distaste for men ever since. Constant threat of monsters as well as nightmares have made her dark and bitter inside. She can't sleep without magic anymore though she has gotten over screaming in her sleep. She is extremely pragmatic and self-disciplined. She has a level in barbarian and sometimes goes into a Rage on low health to show her trauma and constant anger.

In her party, there is her twin brother, a paladin. He is most often the highest ranking officer in the defense team, but still takes orders from the caravan leader(s). We also have a shapeshifter druid without an animal companion, a wizard with little spells and a bard. All humans.

If there is anything else you require to know and I haven't mentioned in this book of a question, feel free to ask.

Best Answer

There's no such thing as senseless violence, according to the one who commits it. Characters who kill or torture without at least an internal justification are crazy, not evil. You don't have a reason to kill people in the party or at random, so you don't. This doesn't make you nonevil.

Also remember that just because you're Evil doesn't mean you're a villain. Many Evil characters have no ambitions higher than their own survival and/or comfort; they don't aspire to great power, nor to purge the world of the target of their hate. They're just trying to get by, not so different from the rest of us.

The traditional list of Seven Deadly Sins was originally compiled not so much as a list of inherent sins, but a list of reasons that people sin. This makes it a great source of motives for Evil characters. I prefer to expand the list to nine, adding Fear as Wrath's twin in the fight-or-flight reflex, and Despair because it was actually in the original list; Sloth replaced it later.

Avarice: The key to happiness is having things. I will have it all.

Envy: I deserve it, not them. I will have it from them.

Gluttony: Pity those not at the top of the food chain. I will never be in that position.

Lust: I want to do it all, and I will let nothing get in my way.

Pride: I must be better then them: so much so that my superiority is never even questioned.

Sloth: I just don't want to do it. Let them do it for me. If they refuse, make them do it for me.

Wrath: They will never hurt me again. I will punish them for what they did, and leave them unable to do it to anyone else.

Fear: They must not be allowed to hurt me. (Note the lack of an again here: this is one of the big differentiators between Fear and Wrath, but it can make a huge difference in the character).

Despair: I just want the pain to end. Giving it to others helps.

Also keep in mind that these are core motivations. Any one of them will need to be elaborated upon. What is it? Who are they? How does the character plan to achieve this goal? Also worth noting is the lengths that your character goes to to hide her motives. Evil characters often prey upon one another's weaknesses, and while Wrath-type characters might not worry about seeming weak due to their motives, Sloth-type and Fear-type characters likely would. These folks are likely to construct a facade, often but not always based on Wrath, as a matter of posturing.

Your character sounds like a Wrath-type, with a focus on the undead. Because her main focus is on something that is not so amenable to the survival of humanity in general, she can get along decently well in society, and even be a very useful sort of person to have around. Some might even mistake her for heroic. But she has a twisted fight-or-flight reflex: any slight or injury, real or imagined, runs the risk of touching on that trauma, for reasons that make sense only to your character (if they even make sense to her). She might lash out disproportionately at small threats, or even against things she mistakenly believes to be threats, but are not.

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