• Kerby posted this in another thread and I thought it was perfect to place it here where all the bad boys and "girls" can see.


    Philosophies of evil
    Evil characters offer a rich diversity of opportunities for roleplaying. They can be complex people tormented by failure to live up to good ideals, although some evil characters never bother to analyze whether their actions are good or evil. Others believe that the end justifies the means, and that good can ultimately come from evil acts; some are opportunists who serve no higher purpose than personal advancement.

    When playing an evil character, some people have a tendency to view evil in black-and-white terms and to assume that the evil character in the party is looking for any opportunity to betray, rob or murder his companions. This is an extreme viewpoint.

    Evil can manifest itself in many ways, not all of them so overt as stabbing the party's paladin in the back or tossing victims into the fiery belly of a brazen idol. While assault and murder are obvious manifestations of an evil character's behavior, ruthless selfishness can often be more potent expression of evil that the psychotic thief who murders his companions in their sleep.

    A character can be evil and yet not seem to be evil; he can be evil yet consider himself to be the epitome of goodness; or his evil might only show itself under certain conditions. A character who has contracted lycanthropy, for example, might donate treasure to widows and orphans, build temples, slay dragons, and help old ladies across the street - but on the night of the full moon, he will hunt down and slaughter those widows and orphans and feeds the same old ladies to the dragon. Most of the time he is good, but his curse wipes out all the good he does.

    A naturally good or neutral character might be driven to evil through the need to seek revenge, finding evil acts an easy way to accomplish her goals. Another might stray from righteousness and goodness by using evil means to justify good ends.

    Of course, evil can be self-evident. No one is going to question whether the priest of Cyric is really a good guy at heart; he isn't - if he were, Cyric wouldn't grant him any spells. But just because he is evil doesn't mean he is going to slaughter his companions and steal their treasure at the first opportunity. If evil were really that self-destructive, good wouldn't have nearly as hard a time combating it.

    At the same time, it can be hard to understand what would motivate a person to become evil. It is the rare individual who admits - much less embraces - being evil, and most people consider themselves, if not wholly good, certainly not irredeemably evil. Yet Faerûn is filled with irredeemably evil antiheroes, gods, and monsters.

    So what is evil?

    If you wish to play an evil character, you might act exactly as you would play a good character concept, except in reverse. Instead of going out to slay the red dragon that has been terrorizing the elf village, you go out to slay the gold dragon that has been terrorizing the orc village. However, if you are going to interact and perhaps adventure wit a party of good and neutral characters, you might need to explore your character's evil nature a little more deeply and try to find out what it is that defines the evil alignment you have chosen for him.

    Various philosophies of evil are briefly discussed below. Each section provides tips for what sort of religion each philosophy follows; examples of organizations, deities, character types, or creatures that embody a particular philosophy; and the alignment or alignments commonly held by those who practice the philosophy.

    Tradition / There is no evil
    One potential cause for evil is simply following the norms and standards of your ancestors and society. Evil is defined by society, not by the inherent laws of gods or nature. What might be considered darkest taboo in one place might be perfectly acceptable practice somewhere else. For example, slavery is illegal in many parts of Faerûn but is fairly common in that, where even a good person might keep a slave or two simply because it is a societal norm. In some regions, the use of narcotics and hallucinogenic drugs is strongly discouraged, while in others it is an integral part of daily spiritual lives of the people.

    Other situations are not so obvious. Sorcery, for example, is forbidden in some regions for no other reason than that the people distrust it. Anyone practicing sorcery in such a place might well be called evil by the region's judges and sheriffs, while just across the border, sorcery is an honored profession. In civilized lands, violent retribution or revenge is the exclusive domain of the civil or religious authorities. The rule of law is meant to protect the innocent from hasty judgment by a grieving father or angry mob. If you are harmed and you lash out in retaliation, your actions might be seen to be as evil as the crime you are avenging. But in border regions and lawless areas where a person has to rely on his own devices, personal acts of revenge are the norm and are considered no more evil than an act of self-defense. Evil can often be defined not by an individual's acts or personal philosophy, but by the culture in which he is acting at the time.

    Characters might use this philosophy to justify their actions, and they could very well be correct, depending on their individual circumstances. A half-orc from the Spine of the World or a drow character from the Underdark might have a much more liberal interpretation of what constitutes evil compared to someone from Silverymoon or Cormyr.

    In any case, either the player or the DM must assign an alignment to the character, if for no other reason than the fact that alignment plays a critical role in how certain magic works - forbiddance spells, or damage reduction that is overcome by a certain kind of aligned weapon, for example. Morally, ambiguous characters can be assigned the same alignment as their patron deity, if no other solution presents itself.

    Religion: Characters holding this philosophy are attracted to small regional or cultural religions and cults.
    Example: Cult of the Dragon
    Common Alignments: Neutral evil, chaotic evil.

    I am not evil
    Some people recognize that evil exists in the world, but they do not in any way think of themselves as evil, no matter how depraved their actions might be. The Eldreth Veluuthra (discussed on page 78 and further detailed in Lord of Darkness) is a perfect example of an evil organization that thinks its every action is in the service of good.

    A character with this philosophy must still be assigned his correct alignment, no matter what he thinks of himself, for the same reasons as characters who believe in the Tradition/There is not Evil philosophy. Either the player or the DM should assign alignment according to the preponderance of the character's actions. If he occasionally does good things but most often resorts to evil ends to justify his evil means, he should be given an evil alignment, no matter his objections.

    Religions: Characters with this philosophy often worship gods of good.
    Example: Eldreth Veluuthra [An elven organization that believes the humanrace is a plague to be wiped out].
    Common Alignment: Lawful evil.

    Evil curse
    The character has become evil through some magical agent - a curse from a god, a disease such as lycanthropy, through contact with an artifact or another form of powerful magic. In some cases, his outlook with respect to law and chaos does not change. The curse is usually resisted at first, but the longer it is in effect, the more likely it is that the character will give in to the curse's evil characteristics.

    Religion: The character might attempt to retain his former religion, but will gradually gravitate towards a religion that most closely matches his alignment or that welcomes him for what he is now.
    Example: Malar
    Special: Good paladins and clerics under an evil curse usually lose their divine abilities.
    Common Alignments: All.

    The character has been lured with promises of power, glory, wealth or pleasure into performing evil acts. He is not proud of his actions, but his desire for these rewards outweighs his dislikes of what he has become. He might even come to accept his evil nature and relish it. A character can be magically seduced through powerful enchantment spells or by being awed in the presence of an evil god. Seduction differs from an evil curse in that the character is not opposed to what is happening to him. He might not at first even realize it, he doesn't seek to change his ways.

    Religion: The character is usually active within an evil religion, since it is most often the religion, or his association with it, that has seduced him.
    Example: Shar.
    Common Alignments: All.

    Driven to evil
    A character could be driven to evil in several ways. His life or circumstances might have been so harsh that he had to commit evil acts just to survive. He might be seeking retribution for some unimaginable wrong done to him or those he loved. He might be fighting fire with fire, so to speak, driven to evil just to keep worse evil at bay.

    Unlike the character who doesn't accept that he is evil, this type of character often doesn't see himself as truly evil - but he doesn't deny that what he has done in the past could be taken that way. Often, he has some grandiose intention to make up for what he has done; of course, by that time it might be too late for him to change his ways.

    Religion: Any. This sort of evil is not associated with a particular religion.
    Examples: Many a thieves' guild is filled with these types of character.
    Common Alignment: Neutral evil.

    Just plain mean
    The character is incapable of controlling his violent or anti-social impulses. He might be kind, intelligent, and perfectly capable of completing a task, holding a conversation, and working successfully at a craft. But when something sets him off, there is no telling what he'll do. There is no way of knowing from one day to the next what will ignite his fury; he usually blames his outbursts on others and doesn't accept that he has done anything wrong, nor does he feel and regret or remorse.

    Religion: Any. This sort of evil is not associated with a particular religion.
    Examples: Fighters, thieves, and barbarians.
    Common Alignment: Chaotic evil.

    Natural born evil
    The character has been brought up in a society in which evil is the rule of thumb, and he knows no other way of life. He was born on the battlefield or in an orc den, learned to deceive almost before he learned to talk, and probably committed his first truly vile act before he was ten years old.

    This type of evil character is the most likely to undergo an alignment shift once exposed to other cultures. He is also the most likely to hate and fear anything that is different from himself.

    Religion: The character prefers the shamanistic religion or cult in which he was raised.
    Examples: Monster societies
    Common Alignment: Chaotic evil, lawful evil.

    Mad, I tell you
    Because of some psychosis, obsession or overpowering phobia, the character is driven to perform acts of incomprehensible evil. Even characters dedicated to the philosophies of evil or evil gods often find this character's actions beyond the pale of acceptable behavior. Depending on the nature of the madness, the character could feel remorse for the things he does, but he cannot stop himself from repeating them. Another character might delight in the things he does, or might not even be aware of what he is doing.

    Religion: Depending on the madness and how it manifests, the character might be incapable of participating in organized religion of any type, or he might be a leader of an evil religion or cult. He might even be a patron of a good religion. But underneath he hides a terrible secret, and impulse that drives him to do things that would horrify a demon. On the other hand, some evil religions and organizations could welcome him after discovering his madness so that they can manipulate him and make use of his particular talents.
    Examples: Bane, Cyric.
    Common Alignment: All, especially those with chaotic tendencies.

    Inherently evil
    The character's race dictates that he is evil. This is usually only the case with certain monster races, especially undead and outsiders.

    Religion: Monster religions, if any.
    Examples: Night Masks.
    Common Alignment: Any evil.

    Evil choice
    For some reason, the character has chosen to act in an evil manner, one that he admits is evil and for which he feels no remorse. His reasons might be selfish, he might be bent on revenge by any means possible, or he might be driven to complete a task or achieve a goal, and will let nothing stand in his way. On the other hand, he could simply be a sociopath equally capable of acts of extreme good or extreme evil, neither of which move him emotionally or spiritually, and in which he is incapable of seeing any contradiction. Characters of this bent find it easy to conceal their alignment and move about in polite society.

    Religion: Any religion that serves his selfish purpose, including good-aligned ones.
    Examples: Iron Throne, Arcane Brotherhood
    Common Alignment: Lawful evil, neutral evil.

    Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven
    This character is actively opposed to good, finds goodness to be repellent in every form, and thinks being good is a sign of weakness of character. He is driven by hate and lust and revels in thwarting of goodness as every turn.

    Religion: The most active and radical evil religions and organization attract this type of character.
    Examples: Cyric, Bane, Shar.
    Common Alignment: Any evil.

    The end justify the means
    This path follows a slippery slope. The character seeks some greater good, perhaps the overthrow of a heinous villain or the establishment of a good church or organization in the face of adversity; nothing will stop her from achieving this goal, even if she must do evil to accomplish it.

    Religion: The character might belong to any religion, but good-aligned deities rarely look with favor upon evil acts.
    Examples: Mystra, Shaundakul, Oghma.
    Common Alignments: All.