On Pretending to be Evil
Posted by Brian Armitage
Distant Silence is a bad, bad man. And so are his friends.
A Deathknight in the service of the First and Forsaken Lion, he was ordered to overthrow and corrupt one of the great cities of the world. He gladly accepted the mission.
He groomed an elderly couple of miners to lead a revolution against their oppressors. He then quietly assassinated them, blamed their deaths on the local government, and whipped the rest of the miners into a bloodthirsty mob.
He kidnapped people for his co-conspirators to turn into undead monsters. Or just to eat.
He’s a roleplaying character. Played by me.
I debated with myself when my friend offered me a spot in the game. We’d be playing as Abyssal Exalted — arguably the worst kind of people in the Exalted setting. They’re beings with a corrupted essence. Evil by nature, driven to destroy Creation. Not for pastors, right?
I decided to play for a few reasons.
One, I have a clear boundary in my head between fantasy and reality. I can play a character with horrid motivations without living vicariously through him. Side note: if it’s hard for you to separate yourself from your character, it’s probably a bad idea for you to play an evil character.
There’s a certain comedy to fake evil. We can laugh at how awful pretend people are, especially when it’s ridiculously over-the-top (as it was in this game). I can’t laugh like that at the real thing. My conscience was paying attention to this game, but wasn’t offended at the idea.
Two, I hadn’t spent much time with that group of friends in far too long. Mind you, if it weren’t for reason one, this reason wouldn’t be valid.
Third, I wanted to try something. It’s easy to think of an evil character as a cackling madman, bent on doing every bad thing he can think of doing. Burn down the orphanage. Kick a puppy. Have a light snack, then overthrow the government. Mwahahaha.
I wanted to try a more realistic route. I wanted to demonstrate how evil actually works.
So, I tried to play Distant Silence thus: I had him operate solely on his own agenda. I never let him question the morality of his choices; I didn’t let him care.
If he appeared humble and loyal, it was to avoid punishment. If he appeared self-sacrificing, it was because it suited his desires. And if he told the truth, it was only because lying would be less convenient.
I think it worked.
As I think about it, one of my real struggles slipped into the character. Distant Silence loved proving he was better than someone else. He did it by manipulating them. I often do it with scorn.
The difference between him and me is that I’m fighting that pride. He revels in it. I pray it will always be so.
Gamers, do you ever play evil characters? How do you play them? Do you ever stray across that line between fantasy and reality?
Gamers and non-gamers alike, what do you think of my take on portraying evil?
About Brian ArmitageStruggling to live like Jesus, celebrating mild successes.
Posted on March 3, 2011, in Christianity, Gaming, Geekery, Holiness and tagged Abyssal Exalted, evil, Exalted, gaming, morality, pen-and-paper, reality, roleplaying, tabletop, White-Wolf. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.