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CaptainSabutai

Good portrayals of the Bad guy...roleplaying the forces of darkness...

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 In another thread, Lynata said 

'Also, doesn't everyone want to play the bad guy sometime ;)'

Which immediately made me think of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface's line: 'Say hello to the bad guy!' And that made me think 'What chaos god would Tony Montana worship: Slaanesh blatantly!' : Montana is a character who is an illustration of the tag line for this game, a man on a personal quest for wealth, power and happiness (in the context of the American dream in the 80s), but loses his humanity  in a deluge of drugs, betrayal and violence. This character driven portrayal of greed and cruelty seems like a perfect fit to the types of character I'd want to see portrayed in my  Black Crusade game! So lets have a list of film, novel, comic , anime, history, current affairs or other sources for intelligent portrayals of morally ruined protagonists to inform our approach to playing the bad guy...

some ideas, please add to/criticise:

-Tamerlane/Timur the lame (seems he'd fit right in in the Black Legion)

-Macbeth (Thats an interesting approach for a chaos character: Hes not really into it himself, but is driven to it by a family member or loved one)

-Hannibal Lecter ( a Khornate characater doesn't have to be a frothing axe-wielding berserker, he could be an intelligent, witty, sophisticated type with an unfortunate penchant for dismembering and consuming)

The hardest one is Nurgle worshippers I feel, I'm struggling for an example!

And I'd like to be the first to say: 'In the screaming vortex, first you get the mutations, then you get the Daemonic gifts, THEN you get the women!' ;-)

 

 

 

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CaptainSabutai said:

The hardest one is Nurgle worshippers I feel, I'm struggling for an example!

 

The ponytail guy in 12 monkeys: killing the human race wiht some bio virus..could ahave been Nurgle's rot for all we know...

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The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions.

I'm not saying I only allow whiter than white hero-types, but setting out to play only villains ... I've never seen it work well - unless all you're after is a no-holds barred hack 'em up. In which case, yeah it can work - but it's pretty basic and quickly tiresome fare imo. YMMV I suppose.

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Adam France said:

The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions.

I'm not saying I only allow whiter than white hero-types, but setting out to play only villains ... I've never seen it work well - unless all you're after is a no-holds barred hack 'em up. In which case, yeah it can work - but it's pretty basic and quickly tiresome fare imo. YMMV I suppose.

 

Well, thats inherently and clearly the purpose of making such a thread-to provide examples of believable bad guys in other sources that can inform roleplaying of such characters in Black crusade. By commenting on a Black Crusade topic, surely its indicative of 'buying-into' the concept of playing Black crusade, and understanding your group of players are mature and intelligent enough (My group are aged 28-35, so maybe that colours my perception, might be harder with kids) for it not to degenerate into a bizarre public airing of adolescent power fantasies.  Why is being locked in internecine warfare amongst the group a bad thing? Why would 'evil' characters be unable to work as a team, plenty of violent conquerors and vicious criminals in real life have managed that. Why do we want to railroad our characters into following planned missions? Surely a sandbox approach of creating an area to play in, and letting the characters actions be motivated by their personalities rather then plot requirements would be more rewarding and long-lasting. I've played many an enjoyable Vampire campaign full of utter skulduggery and PC-infighting, and this model of play works...YMMV though, as always...

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Starscream, sorry you wanted belivable didn't you! :) Yep i started a thread i a round about way that was getting to the point of what is a belivable bad guy. Looking through movies they tend to be very 2d, however i'm going to put forward a couple that are intreasting, well to me anyway!

John Smith from Se7en i would suggest tezzetch for him as a clever manipulator, shame there was no real back story for other than OCD goes off the deap end!

Magnito for chaos undivided and he has a cool back story.

The Maque De Sade, not a bad guy as such, but cosidered so by his contempories - Slannesh

I'm having problems with Khorne other than the fella in Apocolylipse Now enough War pushes you over the edge.

I think this is the thing when creating bad guys the looking at the list above i think that the last two have a lot of subtlty and grey area which would be fun to play. For me i think undivided has the most appeal as there is more wiggle room without an godly Archtype almost over riding any personality you want to play.

 

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jesusjohn said:

Starscream, sorry you wanted belivable didn't you! :) Yep i started a thread i a round about way that was getting to the point of what is a belivable bad guy. Looking through movies they tend to be very 2d, however i'm going to put forward a couple that are intreasting, well to me anyway!

John Smith from Se7en i would suggest tezzetch for him as a clever manipulator, shame there was no real back story for other than OCD goes off the deap end!

Magnito for chaos undivided and he has a cool back story.

The Maque De Sade, not a bad guy as such, but cosidered so by his contempories - Slannesh

I'm having problems with Khorne other than the fella in Apocolylipse Now enough War pushes you over the edge.

I think this is the thing when creating bad guys the looking at the list above i think that the last two have a lot of subtlty and grey area which would be fun to play. For me i think undivided has the most appeal as there is more wiggle room without an godly Archtype almost over riding any personality you want to play.

 

 

Starscream, LOL! I had a vision of a clone of Horus striding into the bridge of the Vengeful Spirit: 'Coronation Abaddon? This is bad comedy!'  

Two great points raised there- one with the marquis de sade- is your character only evil from the point of view of the majority of society? who defines evil, the imperium with its love of genocide and oppression? Maybe he just thought he was having a good time! And with Chaos Undivided, you have far greater room for maneuver then with other Chaos Gods, which is why I put in Tamerlane as a Black Legion archetype, your character could be obsessed with committing genocide, he merely wants to do so in an efficient, focused way, rather then random axe-murder, which leads us unto 'Banality of evil' archetypes like Himmler or Reinhard Heydrich...

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 @Adam

The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions.

If noone can play a believable villain... how do you create a convincing antagonist for a classical goody-two-shoes campaign? I think most of us have played in a game where the Big Bad wasn't overburdened with cliches and doing things For The Evulz - how did the GM manage to portray him? And why would he lose that skill when playing a character in Black Crusade?

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Cifer said:

 @Adam

The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions.

If noone can play a believable villain... how do you create a convincing antagonist for a classical goody-two-shoes campaign? I think most of us have played in a game where the Big Bad wasn't overburdened with cliches and doing things For The Evulz - how did the GM manage to portray him? And why would he lose that skill when playing a character in Black Crusade?

 

No kidding.  Saying that is no different from claiming that Dwarves and Elves and such are un'gettable' in D&D.

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I think there will be two types of characters, with one switching into the other the more he or she progresses on the path of corruption.

Most villains do not see themselves as such - they simply have specific goals and motivations that are at odds with what their society preaches, and they lack the morality to consider the suffering they cause by sticking to their plan. At the end of this spiral into madness, of course, we do get to the somewhat cliché point where people "do evil things for evil's sake" - though even this can be explained as a show of force or simple enjoyment in watching others suffer, which are all valid character motivations as well.

Many roleplaying games that allow the portrayal of villains include a dedicated chapter on how to do it right, and I do hope/believe Black Crusade will be no exception. Regardless of whether we will get such a "manual", there are already lots of sources where we can draw inspiration from.

I've already named the drow as one example of relatively popular and fun to play evil character types. Here is one of the many websites trying to explain how they work (at least the basics - there are books which dedicate a dozen and more pages to this), and although it seems to be programmed a bit crappy it does contain some good info that can easily transplanted into the 40k setting if you change a few details (though some of the paragraphs such as the ones about Lust and Gluttony likely only apply to Slaaneshi ones, whereas others are prevalent themes for all Chaos gods but appear stronger in some than others, such as Deceit and Betrayal for Tzeentch). Also worth of mentioning is WHFRP's Tome of Corruption which already deals with playing evil characters for Warhammer Fantasy, and though it doesn't explore the psyche as detailed as some books about drow do it contains a lot of very interesting aspects and ideas about the four major Chaos Gods that apply to 40k just as much as they do to Warhammer Fantasy.

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A lot of Chaos cultists, in my mind, are akin to the terrorists we have today.

Do you think that they think they are evil? That they are doing evil things because they are evil?

It's all a matter of your point of view. To us, terrorists threaten our lives, our culture, our nations and stability. To them, we are the aggressors, and they are fighting the good fight in the only way they are able in order to try to make what they perceive to be a better life for themselves and their families.

In 40k, the Imperium sees Chaos Cultists as threats to the stability of the Imperium, traitors to the Throne, heretics and disbelievers, and rebel elements that need to be crushed so that their corruption doesn't spread. The cultists see themselves as freedom fighters, fighting against a tyrannical theocratic dictatorship that forces it's beliefs on it's citizens, strangling freedoms, creativity, and the ability for people to make their own way in the world without being forced into what is, in many cases, endentured servitude to the Imperium.

Looking at it that way, it's very easy to play a Chaos character.

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Who says Chaos are the bad guys? They are the dissidents fighting for freedom against a tyrannical fascist regime hellbent on enslaving mankind for some nefarious purpose.

Yes I know about the human sacrifices but I assure you that they are usually entirely voluntary and being sacrificed is considered to be a great honour that brings us closer to our gods. You ought to try it some time.

 

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guest469 said:

Who says Chaos are the bad guys? They are the dissidents fighting for freedom against a tyrannical fascist regime hellbent on enslaving mankind for some nefarious purpose.

Yes I know about the human sacrifices but I assure you that they are usually entirely voluntary and being sacrificed is considered to be a great honour that brings us closer to our gods. You ought to try it some time.

 

 

Both sides have, by the standards of the early 21st century (easy for us to be sanctimonious with our comfortable, unthreatened  first world existence) horrific methods, but then you can't say either Chaos or the Imperium are more moral then the other based on their similar methods, its their motivation that matters.  The ultimate chaos goal of dissolving the entire f*cking universe usually tips the moral balance against them in my book (though obviously, chaos worshippers may not understand their masters true plans-like an honourable german soldier who ended up serving the nazis)...whilst the eternal oppressiveness of the Imperium's authoritarian theocracy (it is neither totalitarian nor fascist) would suck to live in, it beats dissolving into a blob of protoplasm whilst a daemonette ***** your soul forever...

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When you talk of Chaos' sacrifices...

 

remember 1000 people are sacrificed to the Emperor every single day to keep his corpse alive.  Though I will agree Chaos is a bit worse in their ultimate goal... probably.  There's always the way of looking at it that they are proof of a place after death and continued existence in a much changed state.  Very much out of mortal kenning style stuff though.

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In the 41st Millenium, anyone considered a recidivist let's say by the incredibly harsh legal doctrines of the time may well fit into this category.  It is a very short step for some to be considered an 'outsider' by the Imperium to then be considered a 'heretic' by the Imperium.  I can imagine this role-play game exploring that tenuous divide as much as actual screaming cultists and such.

Other systems, perhaps most obviously to my mind, Call of Cthulhu have been exploring this area of moral abiguity and 'shade of grey' for some time - often a cultist becomes that through a particular obsession with a person or situation which can only be resolved through selling their soul and gaining the power to change their fate - a little Faustian perhaps.  Sometimes the original reasons are noble, but the subversion to a lost servant of chaos can take many years or centuries even - the chaos gods have eternity, after all, to claim what's theirs.  In the same way that a radical Inquisitor (i.e like Gregor Eisenhorn) can cross the divide and end up utilising, if not openly trucking with the Ruinous Powers through originally noble reasons, so can space marines (i.e. Alpharius / Omegon of the Alpha Legion) too.

I think that this game will have a lot of playability.  It's not as simple as just playing the bad guy - it's playing with a whole new system of values if you like - by the standards of normal humans warped and depraved, but I guess not if seen from the other side perhaps.  Life, no matter how warped, surely becomes 'normal' to you if you live it all the time?

Incidentally - how about a villain like Kaiser Söze?  Wouldn't he be cool to play in this style of game? 

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If you step back form good and evil for a moment, because lets face it at the very least both sides are amoral. At it's essence it is stasis vs chaos. The empire is in stasis, not moving forward always staying the same. Chaos is pure change or potential as lets face it the warp is shaped by emtions etc, so Chaos it's self is the chance for pure potential....however the big 4 gods are almost fixed and form a stasis of their own (other than maybe Tezentch) they have become fixed concepts. Yes they have the ability to change and mutate etc, however their core concepts are in fact fixed and are almost anathma to the warp itself.

The Chaos gods could be discribed a a pervertion or corruption of the warp. So theoreticly the warp is not a problem, the problems always start when people interact with it and their own selfish emotions and thoughts are made manifest in them through madness or mutation. Eventually leading to that persons downfall (be it death, madness, turning into a mewling chaos spawn or becoming a parody of it's self in daemonhood.) I think that most of the problem is that static beings of the real world can't comprehend the warp without going nuts.

So really our chaos worshipping 'hero' is very much shaped by his own desires and emotions that are then amplified by the warp. I think there is where we can find our realistic 'evil'

Imagine if you are a freedom fighter trying to take down an opressive empire, you get followers and will do anything to change thigs for the better. You turn to Chaos... slowly you become more and more to follow the ends justify the means and you enjoy the bossing people around. Slowly but surly you become a characature of your self you demand obedience and worship, you start to destroy all humanity as they still follow the empire and if they don't see things your way they are obviously lackies or the empire and you become a monster. All the time you have corrupted yourself, the warp dosn't care it's just supercharging you, your flaws and your strengths. Your daemonhood is your own ego raising you, unless of course you devote yourself to a god then you are the kind of person that needs approval/to worship/belive in somthing bigger.

Hows that?

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Pretty good I'd say!

I liked your points about the Chaos gods themselves - very true that they have become quite static in their own right, but that essentially chaos is impossible for humans to comprehend - a cosmic truth too twisted to fully realise.  I think your analogy about 'freedom fighters' as opposed to 'terrorists' reveals the way in which a chaos cultist would most likely see themselves. 

Principles like freedom from oppressive laws, freedom of speech, even freedom of worship are things we take for granted - in the 41st Millenium desiring these things will pretty quickly get you labelled a heretic - so, from here it is easy to see why humans get lured into worshipping chaos, and descend in the way you have suggested.  In that sense you are also right to say there is no simple good / evil here - and that creating that uncertainty is key to playing and enjoying this role-play game (well, maybe not the only reason!).

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I actually think that Tzeentch has become quite static himself. He has the ability to see everyt possible strands of future except his own. And he is consumed with knowing his own future, since he doesn't know his role in it. This leads to his attempts of manipulating said future, which in turn mutates them into something he did not foresee.

So maybe he can't really know the future since he's incapable of looking beyond his own involvement.

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Adam France said:


The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions.


I'm not saying I only allow whiter than white hero-types, but setting out to play only villains ... I've never seen it work well - unless all you're after is a no-holds barred hack 'em up. In which case, yeah it can work - but it's pretty basic and quickly tiresome fare imo. YMMV I suppose.



None of us? You sure? Because sometimes I wrap my head around the logic of people like Hitler, Stalin or Mengele just to be able to piss people off by arguing why what they did where completely justifiable and morally right. So chaos shouldn’t be a problem for me then. So clearly not all of us have that problem.

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We all have the capacity to become "bad guys" - what's keeping us away from that is our individual sense of morality. Many people are able to theoretically "rescind" it for the purpose of writing or playing in novels/movies/theatre pieces or, of course, for roleplaying, simply by pondering about "what if" situations and trying to peek into a different mindset than their own rather than playing themselves. Though this somehow makes it sound more complicated than it really is, I guess. Either way, I had lots of fun playing my drow, and look forward of getting into a vaguely similar mindset again with Black Crusade.

When you think about it, 40k has no "good guys" anyways. Only evil and the lesser evil. The few good souls that exist usually further the goal of one of the aforementioned evils and generally don't live long as their environment doesn't really value it.

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Good portrayal of bad guys huh...

Elric from the Elric novels...for sorcerer of chaos archetypes.

Similarly Jagreen Lern, the theocrat of Chaos in the series could be used for a base for a maniacal Word Bearer or Thousand sons sorcerer.

Ozymandias from the Watchmen, the enemy within with the razor sharp intellect and puppet master who has established a web of influence and covered all his bases quite well, quite the Kaiser Sozé. Inspiration for a cult magus who has devoted one self to the changer of ways.

Moriarty - the professor of crime and Sherlock Homes' counter

V from V for Vendetta -an antihero determined to bring down the establishment. Imagine the WH40K equivalent with the equivalent of influence/resources of an inquisitor.

Nemesis  the Warlock from the 2000AD comic series which kind of riffed on the Moorcockian theme anyway.

Historically,

King John - possibly one of the worst kings from English history (lost English territories in the north of France to the French, excommunicated by the Papal States, amongst others), recently protrayed in the Robin Hood movie. Easily inspiration for a power mad warlord who has the aspirations of a petty tyrant, the moral scruples of a rodent and who has given self over to the ruinous powers.

Richard the Lionheart - A king who although epitomised as courageous and wise was overlooked for being ruthless, cold-blooded and for lack of a better word a psychopath who really didn't like his subjects. How about a renegade astartes who was revered as such a wise and courageous saviour of the people he comes to liberate, but behind the scenes is an absolute fiend - pick any chapter/legion who fled from the bastion of the Imperium.

 

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All the 'heros' from the Joe Abacombe books. Glocta is The Inquisitors Inquisitor. The mage the swords man in fact the whole lot of them, i think the only characters that come out in any way decent people are Shivers and the Bloody Nine, thats a barbarian merc and a frothing bezerker, in fact the Bloody Nine would be a very good archtype for a Khornite who you could actualy play and have fun roleplaying. If you havn't read The Blade Itself, Then they will hang or the last argument of kings, shame on you! :)

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Good portrayals of the Bad Guy...

I like Christopher Walken as Frank White in King of New York. He gets out of jail, goes back into town and starts crushing all the competition, then he starts funding hospitals and whatnot. Maybe Slaanesh?

And how about Al Pacino in The Godfather? There's a story of a guy who was basically a decent man but one born into a twisted family, and he spends his entire life trying to get out of it, and along the way he does plenty of bad things. Most people feel a fair amount of sympathy for the character of Michael Corleone, who is of course, a mobster.

And while I'm on the mafia thing, how about Tony Soprano? These are iconic characters, cemented in our imagination, and they are the bad guys. They kill, they take advantage of others, they manipulate, but they have their reasons which, on the face of things, people can identify with even if they might never imagine themselves in those situations.

Finally, one of my favorite villains, the Joker in The Dark Knight. There's a follower of Tzeentch right there.

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