Talon
 member, 387 posts
Thu 7 Mar 2019
at 23:41
Success of Villainous Campaigns
Just wanted to get others opinions on how well they've had game centered around villains worked out. Over the years I've heard a lot about how these games tend to have issues. I was recently feeling inspired by the idea of a sort of Overlord-Dungeon Keeper mashup, but I thought I'd hear other people's experience with such games before diving deep into the idea.

1) Have you run such a game? What were the results?
2) What was the biggest hurdle when it came to the game?
3) What surprised you about the game?
4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?
T.S.
 member, 227 posts
 I stand in noone's shadow
 except my own...
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 02:01
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
Talon:
1) Have you run such a game? What were the results?


Haven't run but played in one. It fell apart.

quote:
2) What was the biggest hurdle when it came to the game?


The player's characters all had very different and very selfish motivations. Everyone pretty much took the idea of it being an evil game as license to do everything they weren't usually supposed to do during most other games.

quote:
3) What surprised you about the game?


I knew my friends were a bit depraved, but that game was an eye-opener.

quote:
4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?


Do not assume the characters will play well together. Be prepared for the worst.
NowhereMan
 member, 290 posts
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 02:25
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
quote:
1) Have you run such a game? What were the results?

I have. It went well enough, and it still gets mentioned by my home group occasionally.
quote:
2) What was the biggest hurdle when it came to the game?

I'd say balancing expectations. The key was to acknowledge that it really wasn't a huge departure. Character motivations were different, but not by as different as you might think. For a traditional dungeon-fantasy game like D&D, almost all characters can be motivated by the right amount of money. Just don't expect them to march off to heroically save the orphanage for nothing more than the warm fuzzy feeling they get from doing good.
quote:
3) What surprised you about the game?

Because they were playing more manipulative, scheming characters, the party was actually more interested in doing very public acts of good. For instance, they volunteered - without pay - to protect a frontier town from a horde of invading orcs, turning them into local heroes. Now, did the mayor of that town die tragically in the attack, far from the front line? Sure. But those orcs can be devious, right? And who were the "heroes" to argue when the town wanted their saviors to take the reins of leadership? It would have been an insult not to accept.
quote:
4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?

Don't let your preconceived notions of "what evil characters do" to take over. Encourage your players to build conniving, scheming little devils, rather than simple murderous psychopaths (Not to say they can't be both!). Also, remind them that working well in a team means there'll be more people between them and those who want to do them harm. Discourage direct PvP, but allow them to screw each other over in little ways if they feel the need.


I also played in a fantastic evil-oriented game a while back, though it was unintentional. It was a Pathfinder game, using the Kingdom Building rules, which is to say, we were in charge of a colony. It just so happened that most of us were from Cheliax, a nation in the thrall of devils, so our colony ended up being a devil-worshiping theocracy. The leader of our colony was the local high priest (a PC), and I played the treasurer. The game was short-lived because of real-life circumstances, but it ended just before my character had the high priest assassinated (by a different PC, an assassin who I had secretly employed quite a while back) and arranged a marriage with a different character in power, who was also a PC.

It was a huge, intricate game of conspiracies and obviously at least a little competitive, but it was a blast for all involved. Playing  the simpering courtier secretly plotting the downfall of his betters was a unique and really fun experience.
Hendell
 member, 167 posts
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 17:14
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
1) Have you run such a game? What were the results?  I have run, and played in many games that fit with this category, although mostly in person rather than online.  Their results are about as mixed as any other game, some were among the best games I have ever played, some among the most uninteresting or shortest.

2) What was the biggest hurdle when it came to the game?  The biggest hurdle is not letting any one character take to much of the focus.  Even more so with villains you see a tendency for mastermind vs minion rather than the leader vs follower problem most games have.

3) What surprised you about the game? Nothing

4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?  I would suggest requiring of the players that they make characters intended to operate cooperatively, and require from the characters that they are not immediately focused on empire building, but instead on a more personal scale of involved villainy.
PCO.Spvnky
 member, 385 posts
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 17:39
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
1) Have you run such a game? What were the results?
I have run and played multiple games like this.  The PBP ones have always disintegrated or I have left them because there is always one person who just doesn't want to make things work.  The tabletop games I have played have been actually quite fun as long as it was with the right people and with the right GM.

2) What was the biggest hurdle when it came to the game?
Making sure the players are all on the same power level and that they know they HAVE to get along in order for the game to work for everyone.

3) What surprised you about the game?
Some of the completely ingenious ideas that came out from the players were far better than other "good" games I have played.  I think that an evil game that people are playing to have fun and make it work becomes far more imaginative than a "normal" game.

4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?
Make sure that everyone is on the exact same page about expectations and what kind of game it is going to be.  In a PBP I would also say that establishing positive background stories between the characters would probably be good too.
Xiane
 member, 353 posts
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 18:16
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
1) Never run an evil game but have taken part in a couple. Sadly they tended to fall apart.

2) Biggest hurtles I've found are actually three fold:

a) GM participation. A lot of evil game GMs seem to go with the belief it should be player driven even if the group is a bunch of fresh recruits for an evil overlord. Doesn't work that way, an evil group, even more so than a good one, needs a motivational direction be it reward or simply a bigger evil to thump them if they wanna do their own thing too soon there has to be some guidelines to keep from being Chaotic Stupid.

b) Chaotic Stupid players. As priorly mentioned there needs to be some bracing from the GM to keep evil players more or less moving towards their dastardly goals. Sadly GMs also have to make sure to weed out Chaotic Stupid players. Even if the monster manual depicts a drow elf as CE and filled with debauchery they are not beyond plans and calculations, in fact the race is reknown for planning in the midst of just killing everything. An evil parties initial action should never be 'charge in and kill everything with a heartbeat'. If that's your groups initial take to every scenario dump the group and find players with more than rocks between their ears.

c) While giving a guideline don't try to railroad the group into your story. My most recent evil game fell apart because the GM wanted to shove his narrative down our throats, even after we lost players due to normal RPOL attrition he tried to get the remaining couple of players to complete a fight that would have been rough even if everyone was present. And refused to bring in others until this 'encounter' was done. It essentially killed the game since no one wants to throw their character into a blender just cause his game didn't go his way. RPOL attrition happens as does PCs doing something other than your storyline may desire be FLEXIBLE or don't bother.

3) What surprises me about evil games is that when you do get a good group it'll be some of the most innovative roleplayers you can meet. Evil characters played well will actually plan things out and come up with inventive ways to give the forces of good a run for their money.

4) My base suggestions would be give guidance not railroads, expect the game to go in radically different directions than you thought of (unless you're a successful drow game runner in which case you should be fine here), let the group be evil but curb stupidity early. There's nothing wrong with bruiser characters just don't let them make the plans 99 times out of one hundred, fighting will occur but it should be on the characters terms not on the forces of good much like how a DM would plan an encounter only this time its the players planning for you to throw their adversaries against.
12th Doctor
 member, 75 posts
 Laugh Hard. Run Fast.
 Be kind.
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 21:06
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
Talon:
4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?


Use PM or private threads a LOT. I know this from running a tabletop version of this idea. Instead of saying things out loud that would give players metagame information and cause them to distrust the others IC because of what they learned OOC, we passed notes. Lots of notes. Some of them only said things like "Hi," or "How's the pizza?" The players don't need to know who's writing what to whom. This way no one can accuse anyone of acting on information they shouldn't know. And if someone does seem to learn more than they should, who's backstabbing them becomes a roleplaying opportunity.
pawndream
 member, 176 posts
Sun 10 Mar 2019
at 12:13
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
Talon:
Just wanted to get others opinions on how well they've had game centered around villains worked out. Over the years I've heard a lot about how these games tend to have issues. I was recently feeling inspired by the idea of a sort of Overlord-Dungeon Keeper mashup, but I thought I'd hear other people's experience with such games before diving deep into the idea.

1) Have you run such a game? What were the results?
2) What was the biggest hurdle when it came to the game?
3) What surprised you about the game?
4) What advice would you give on putting together a similar game?


1. I ran a New World of Darkness mortals game several years ago that began as an exploration of paranormal activity but morphed into a game where some characters ended up pursuing their own evil schemes. It didn't start as evil-themed game, but definitely ended up that way. We completed that campaign and it worked out reasonably well, but did require a lot of private threads trying to resolve individual character's schemes.

2. The fact the game turned into several mini-games while still trying to achieve the original game's objective. In my case, one of the characters tried to supress his serial killing impulses and was not always successful. When he went off to do his naughty deeds, I had to run those threads separately so the other characters would not know what he was up to.

3. Probably the biggest surprise was the fact anyone wanted to play a serial killer and somewhat less of a surprise, I did not enjoy facilitating evil intents. To the player's credit, he did a really good job of coming into the fold to work on the original game concept, but he did have "excursions" along the way.

4. Have an overarching objective and make it clear to the players what you hope to achieve in the game. If the game becomes purely about evil characters doing evil stuff, you will end up finding them often at odds with one another and it will require a lot of work on your part to run separate games for several different characters.
brother_1
 member, 171 posts
 Knowing is 1/2 the battle
 the other 1/2 is violence
Mon 11 Mar 2019
at 05:06
Re: Success of Villainous Campaigns
quote:
centered around villains


I was in an M&M villain redemption game a while back that produced some very interesting characters. I think understanding the motivations for these characters is probably the most important element of such a game. This includes what brings such creatures together. Player communication was a tremendous asset.