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New GM looking for advice on wacky idea for D&D-like campaign: bad guys gone good?

Apathygrrl

New member
So, I've been asked by some friends to run a game where they are evil races who are trying to turn good (and thus far are basically failing miserably). It sort of started as a joke, but everyone really likes it and wants to keep it going. The system I'm using is the Everquest RPG. It's quite similar to D&D, so it's not terribly important that anyone here knows the system in order to give me advice. You can just say I'm running D&D or some other fantasy type game. I'm trying to keep the tone a bit on the lighthearted side, not too dramatic because these players get kind of silly.

I have a party of 5 players:
- Dark elf necromancer - Very much hates nearly all other dark elves, wants to be a good guy, hoping to gain the attention of the deity Tunare, who created the high & wood elves. Very earnest.
- Dark elf shadowknight (think evil paladin) - Comrade of necromancer. Same motivations as the necro, but slightly less earnest about the whole plan.
- Iksar (lizard people) beastlord - Runaway princess, actively trying to be good guy, truly believes necromancer's plan will work, really wants to worship Tunare. Does not want to go home.
- Iksar monk - Under orders to bring the princess home unharmed, but since she doesn't want to go home is basically forced to follow her around trying to convince her until she changes her mind. Not actively trying to be a good guy, but follows the princess's orders to be good guy. (Has to follow the Iksar emperor's orders, but also has to follow the princess's orders which is why the monk can't just drag her home kicking & screaming)
- Troll shaman - Really only following the party along because the whole plan amuses the hell out of him & wants to see what will happen. Not actively trying to be a good guy, but technically is probably the least evil troll out of the whole troll race. Has no future plans/goals, focuses solely on the present.

All of these races are inherently evil races, so they started off with evil alignments. I am wondering if it is possible for a dark elf to really change alignment and become a good guy or is this idea just a recipe for disaster? How big of an event would have to happen for a deity to take notice that someone unusual is worshipping you? I'm not sure the necro has thought about how to get his plan to work, or what would happen afterwards. I have no idea what would happen either. His character is pretty much the party leader, but he also seems to kind of be winging it. Right now they're in the biggest city in the world, but underneath it where the evil races live and smuggle goods.

Is this the worst campaign idea ever? Thoughts? Advice? You can laugh at me if you want :)
 

Knaight

Registered User
Validated User
The only problem with this is the use of inherently evil races at all. If you're doing that anyways? Go for it.
 

g33k

Active member
Banned
Validated User
+1 on the caveat that "evil race" as a concept is problematic in so VERY many ways. But it's your game, and the premise of the thread, so we take it as given or we're just threadcrapping.

Next question is frivolous-vs-serious. I kinda get a frivolous vibe? But then the query seems to veer more serious... So I'm unclear how to advise.

One thing to double-check, though, is whether the PLAYERS are all on the same page. Some may be expecting a game of "ooops, I relapsed to evil... for the 13th time... this week;" all silliness, and incompetent do-good'ery, &c. Some may think this is actually the most-inspired role-playing opportunity they've had in years. If there are different expectations, you are likely to end up with differences in how they like the game.

Serious or not, I'll go with "love" -- something altruistic, they care about more than their own self-interest or well-being. Play it campy, with CHA-max'ed catgirls&satyrs, and Bards' lovesongs converting the PCs, and etc; or more serious.

I could see a thing where the Troll grabs some halfling child out of the rubble of a destroyed village, planning to take the kid to the next village ('cos we're trying be good, right? Lemme know if'n I'm doin' it wrong, cos I'm reeeal tired of th' salt-pork & bisky....") but they won't take responsibility... nor the next... nor the next; so the troll figures they have a Party Mascot... And eventually starts saving the Mascot over other mission-objectives... Nothing "amorous," not "romantic" love, closer to parental, just really wanting the best for them.

Maybe the Monk ends up falling in love with the Princess, and -- because it's so important to her -- becomes one of the most-genuinely-Good party members.

Etc etc etc...

What you really need is some mechanical way to represent alignment-shift; D&D used to use it to penalize (default good-aligned) clerics & paladins who got too pragmatic about doing the convenient thing instead of the right thing.

Maybe some sort of "doing good" XP-system, or goal-achievement metric?

We loop back to the issues with "evil races." If these races just have "bad blood," an inborn pull toward evil, no matter what they THINK they want... Then maybe no? Maybe it's doomed to fail? I note the necromancer seems to have hate & rebellion, and spiting the other Dark Elves, as primary motives? so quite a ways from "Good," there!

Oh, almost forgot:
Hello, and welcome!
 
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Apathygrrl

New member
+1 on the caveat that "evil race" as a concept is problematic in so VERY many ways. But it's your game, and the premise of the thread, so we take it as given or we're just threadcrapping.

Next question is frivolous-vs-serious. I kinda get a frivolous vibe? But then the query seems to veer more serious... So I'm unclear how to advise.

One thing to double-check, though, is whether the PLAYERS are all on the same page. Some may be expecting a game of "ooops, I relapsed to evil... for the 13th time... this week;" all silliness, and incompetent do-good'ery, &c. Some may think this is actually the most-inspired role-playing opportunity they've had in years. If there are different expectations, you are likely to end up with differences in how they like the game.

Serious or not, I'll go with "love" -- something altruistic, they care about more than their own self-interest or well-being. Play it campy, with CHA-max'ed catgirls&satyrs, and Bards' lovesongs converting the PCs, and etc; or more serious.

I could see a thing where the Troll grabs some halfling child out of the rubble of a destroyed village, planning to take the kid to the next village ('cos we're trying be good, right? Lemme know if'n I'm doin' it wrong, cos I'm reeeal tired of th' salt-pork & bisky....") but they won't take responsibility... nor the next... nor the next; so the troll figures they have a Party Mascot... And eventually starts saving the Mascot over other mission-objectives... Nothing "amorous," not "romantic" love, closer to parental, just really wanting the best for them.

Maybe the Monk ends up falling in love with the Princess, and -- because it's so important to her -- becomes one of the most-genuinely-Good party members.

Etc etc etc...

What you really need is some mechanical way to represent alignment-shift; D&D used to use it to penalize (default good-aligned) clerics & paladins who got too pragmatic about doing the convenient thing instead of the right thing.

Maybe some sort of "doing good" XP-system, or goal-achievement metric?

We loop back to the issues with "evil races." If these races just have "bad blood," an inborn pull toward evil, no matter what they THINK they want... Then maybe no? Maybe it's doomed to fail? I note the necromancer seems to have hate & rebellion, and spiting the other Dark Elves, as primary motives? so quite a ways from "Good," there!

Oh, almost forgot:
Hello, and welcome!
Thank you very much for your advice.

It started off very frivolous. There have only been 4 sessions so far so it's still a very new game and they're all still kind of getting a feel for their characters & the system. The first two games the group just wandered aimlessly in some grassland area before finally coming to the city. My questions are more thinking into the future in case it starts getting more serious later on (which it probably never will knowing how silly my group can get).

The whole thing was the Necro player's idea initially as a joke, and he is fully aware how ironic it is that he is playing a dark elf necro trying to be a Hero. I mean, it's like super-extra evil. His character sees nothing wrong with necromancy if it is used to help rescue people and promote peace. Of course it's obvious to any good or neutral character that necromancy is evil. His character is completely oblivious to that and views it as more of a tool or superpower to help him become a Hero. Also the Iksar beastlord princess is really getting into being some sort of peace-loving hippie. She wants to give flowers to everyone. Iksar are naturally very vicious and xenophobic. They pretty much hate all races. So, her character is ridiculous and I love it.

I personally think the characters are deluding themselves and the whole thing is doomed to fail in the most hilarious fashion, but players do have a way of surprising a GM when they least expect it. Stranger things have happened. So far they haven't announced to anyone in the city that they're trying to be heroes, which is a good thing. They'd probably get laughed out of the city. The absurdity of it all! LOL.

I think that I will try to do what you said about the "doing good" XP system. I hadn't thought of that and it just might help me figure out just how "good" they actually are in relation to how good they think they are. :)

Thank you again for your help, and for not shouting "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE I CAN'T EVEN!!"
 

Myth

Southern Mane
RPGnet Member
Validated User
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE I CAN'T EVEN!!"

Also, cool idea. It might be that the races aren't inherently Evil after all, it's just that the cultures have bought into all the bad press those Snooty Elves have been putting out ever since Dark King Umbra took Wood King Maple's sister to the Elf Prom when High King Alto was totally gonna ask her, eight thousand years ago.

An NPC who believes that they are good might support this; some orphan child they accidentally saved from a fire or a cart crash. Could be anything from the equivalent of Cindy Lou Who to an ernest kid who wants to grow up to be a hero like them, to an avatar of a good god who is intrigued by them and wants to see how their quest turns out (maybe revealing himself when they're high-level and sending them on a final quest to prove themselves.)
 

Jonathan Lewis

Retired User
There are some interesting possibilities with this kind of story. There is an RPG for the Savage Worlds rules called Necessary Evil. It's in the superhero genre. All the super powered good guys have been killed. But now an alien force threatens the Earth. who will save them? The only ones left are the super villains. They must fight for good even though they're evil.
 

Occam's Spork

be seeing you.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It really depends on how evil they are. I mean, that's the real issue, because in fiction, redeemed villains are not just evil. They have specific traits that we qualify as evil. Are they evil because they are psychopathic and sadistic? Then it's pretty unlikely. Anyone who derives reward from causing others pain are not motivated to do much else, except maybe to pretend to be good so they get the social reward, while still privately doing bad things.

If they are just selfish, xenophobic, and otherwise misled, then they have a character arc available that is done in fiction and real life all the time. See the stories about former white supremacist, gang members, etc.

Generally, the thing that sets a person on the path of good actions is empathy. Giving them a group of people to connect with, and become invested in. A single kid. That's more likely to just corrupt the poor kid. But how sbout a village? Or some other community who maybe takes them in, is kind to them, and gives them a connection that replaces the ones of their upbringing.

That's usually how the arc goes in fiction and RL.
 

Gorilla Zod

I can see for miles and miles
Validated User
I think you can have your evil cake and eat it. Even if the setting has "inherently evil species" it seems that your PCs definitely ain't that! Whether they're unique or part of a "cultural do-good-drift/diaspora", they're special and that's what makes the story worth playing through. Perhaps the Turane link isn't a coincidence...perhaps Turane occasionally attracts evil-race individuals who carry some redemptive spark in their not-so-dark-hearts. It's not part of Turane's bread and butter portfolio, sure, but it's nice when it happens. This would suggest a strong possibility of the PCs meeting their long-term goal of eventually turning good.

Even if you don't want to go the metaphysical route, you should consider the power of gratitude. No one cares that they just got saved from cannibal brigands or intelligent spiders by dark elves, lizard-princessess and a troll. They just care that they got saved. And as "The Tale of the Time We Got Saved By That Smirking Troll and His Creepy Friends" is one that the average peasant could probably swap for a hot meal once a week for the rest of their lives, then the party's heroic reputation will start to spread. And once it spreads they'll have to contend with the power of reputation, expectation and peer pressure, of how to deal with "requests", of what to do when a (brave!) human bard wants to hang around for a bit and sing songs about them, that sort of thing.

And of course, there's always mirroring. Perhaps a similarly levelled party of human adventurers who are just bad people need dealing with, and in the actions of these depraved mercs the party sees a reflection of their worst selves, making them resolve to be better persons. Or other evil-race a-holes that show the worst traits of their kind, leading to the PCs having to take them out "for great do-goodness", and to save all the villagers and puppies and kittens and such.

Main thing is your game sounds great, and if everyone's having fun, then more power to your slightly-less-than-evil elbows!
 
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