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CaptainSabutai

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

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Good or evil doesn't really matter in 40k; the conflict is between order and disorder, in a very Moorcockian fashion. Each side sees the other as 'evil.' To make Chaos look good, make Order look bad.

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Do you really need to show you rivals as evil (it's not like you can't or it is hard)? Whether uncovering forbidden lore or craving apotheosis, if you sided with chaos chances are you will do anything to acheive it. There are no good or evil deeds for a heretic - only those which bring him closer to his destiny and those earning him enmity from his unholy patrons.

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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'.

 

I understand, a lot of times when players (even in more traditional RPGs such and D&D) play villians they tend to lean towards playing the standard cut out bad guy. Many can't get into their mind. In the case of the cut out bad guy this is a good thing as the main motivator is usually just blatant power or mindless destruction. It's the reason even in other games where GMs don't let players play evil. Black Crusade we're told to be evil. On the flip side to this GMs may also because they are worried about the bad guy cut out will try and 'lead' or just blatantly force their players to be good guys despite it being black crusade. Now while the concept of playing super heroes of the chaos gods is funny it's not fun when the players want to do something and are restricted by the Good Guy GM not wanting them to be evil.

 

While I can't do much to help the GMs change the players I can only say this, (since I even in other games tend to play the villianus good guy) is that in the eyes of every (but the most insane IE the Joker) villian they are the hero. Give your bad guys a goal aside from just 'power' or becoming a deamon. It fleshes them out and allows them to become more. In addition if your character has a twisted sense of honor (ie my game had a khorne berserker who refused to kill an unarmed man. He would give them a weapon and then kill them.) or has their limits it's interesting seeing what lengths they go to and what they endure before finally breaking that limit or becoming something worse.

 

I have rambled long enough on just a small part from someone else's comment. Feel free to continue this if anyone else wants. I've said my two cents.

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Can you play a moraly good character? 

 

Yes, but only to a certain degree.  There's a Death Guard sorcerer in a campaign I'm currently in.  He's more a renegade than Chaos at this point - as he left his legion when they devoted to nurgle.  He and my Iron Warrior are very much in tune - no slaves, we fight for freedom from the hated imperium and the corpse-emperor.  This, among other factors.  You can say the no slaves thing is "morally good" - but buttress that against the wanton death, destruction and worse that we inflict against loyalists and chaos worshippers alike.  That makes it rather difficult to call us morally good under any stretch of the word.

 

At the end of the day, good and Black Crusade done mix.  You can have a "good" quality/belief - maybe 2 - but that's it.  Any more than that and you're better served not playing Black Crusade.

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I think the real problem with portraying a Black Crusade PC as a compelling villain is that certain assumptions that come with being a PC in a roleplaying game inherently clash with our notions of proper villainy.

 

Basically, the narrative role of a villain is to foster conflict with the protagonist, throw obstacles in their way and convince the audience that the protagonist can fail. The latter is often objectively untrue, as story tropes and cliches tend to work in hero's favor, but even if we assume the protagonist will triumph in the end, creating this illusion of risk is what differentiates good stories from horrible Mary Sue stories. We know Batman always wins, but we don't want to see Batman effortlessly punching ineffectual mobsters - we want to see Batman go against Joker, who planted bombs all over the city and tortures Batman with his past failures and oh my god, he managed to get a drop on Batman, how will he survive this and defuse the bombs in time?

 

The problem is, the structure of a roleplaying game is much better suited to playing Batman than Joker. The classic D&D formula (from which 40kRPG draws heavily, design-wise) puts all the classic villain tools in the hands of the GM, to be pitted against the players.

 

A good villain often holds immense political power, whereas PCs tend to start with meager resources, because it's generally more fun to fight tooth and nail for everything than starting off as President of the Universe.

 

A good villain is often ridiculously deadly in single combat, be him warrior or mage, whereas PCs have to work for every small bit of personal power, and often the game withholds entire categories of advantages from them entirely (like Traits in 40k - they're basically a set of standardized "cheats" enemies get to use to make life tougher for the PCs, who get extremely restricted access to them, if at all).

 

A good villain is often unbelievably cunning, and weaves stupid elaborate plots that almost always work - something that in an RPG is much easier to do for a GM, who is the final arbiter of every action's success or failure, controls every actor in the game except for PCs, and acts as the PCs' interface for interacting with the world, knowing everything they want to do before it's attempted and having total control over what they know in return.

 

A good villain often plays the long game, slowly but surely getting closer to his ultimate goal, whereas the PCs are often forced to deal with having their plans derailed by more immediate events (i.e. whatever the GM chose to throw their way).

 

Granted, these problems aren't insurmountable, and can be worked around to an extent if the GM is down with that (and he well should be, especially in a game that has "playing as villains" as it's main selling point), but still, there's something inherently off about playing a grand villain, but having to negotiate and compromise with the GM to make it happen without blowing up the game in the process. The Joker doesn't negotiate, he doesn't compromise - he just does whatever he **** pleases, in a way that's hard to recreate in a roleplaying game from the player's position.

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Actually, yes. You can be a good guy in Black Crusade, if you ask me. 

 

The reason is simple: Each Chaos God have their nice side. Khorne has martial skill - how the battle is used matters not to the god of blood. All that matters is the battle. Tzneetch is change and progress - that progress doesn't have to come at the expense of others. That kind of thing. 

 

The only thing that the Gods cannot abide is weakness and betrayal. Betrayal is clear - a Slaaneshi cannot turn away from experiences - but weakness? Too many (even now a days) think strength is violence and cruelty and wickedness. 

 

That's not necessarily true. It is very very difficult to DO in the war torn future of the 41st millennium, but if good was easy, everyone would do it. 

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To add my half a throne:

 

- You can play a good character who is a chaos cultist in Black Crusade. Same way you can also play a humane imperial itizen in Dark Heresy. However, do you wish to play something bland?

 

Instead player characters in Black Crusade are the ones on the barricades or the ones formenting revolution. Sometimes for gain, for reasons of personal fear (the "or else" clause of your benefactor), for loyalty, and so forth.

 

They can be good in a judeo-christian way, they can be the ones who run an underground railroad for psykers and mutants, they can be the ones who oppose the oppression of the imperium. However, they are not beholden to chaos. They are the punks and anarchists of the 41st millenium.

 

However, equally there can be the truly evil, where power is for the taking, where their visions of empire are about carving it out in the body of the Imperium. These are the ones who follow chaos and seek out its favour. They seek power to rise up the heap of corpses that is their ambition.

 

Black Crusade though is not geared to playing Robin Hood, but that of Guy of Gisbourne.

 

-C

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Guess I'll toss my favorite 'bad guy' into the ring.  Having played a variety of games (RPG and video type) since 1977; I've had the fun of tossing and refining various nefarious types to toss them at a group of player characters.

 

Then a couple years ago I found what I consider to be the 'ultimate' fun, witty bad guy.  Put him into BC and I could see him honestly as a Pirate Prince of the Ragged Helix with no trouble whatsoever; either that or a fallen Rogue Trader.

 

What's his name?  I know a lot of you have heard of him before.  His name is Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 (a video game); and I've put him into my own campaign to taunt and foil the PC's plans.  Oh, he's a ass-hat from day one; but you can never meet a better 'good guy (in his mind, he's good)' in your life!

 

If you don't know who he is; just hit up a video site and search for Handsome Jack; you'll be laughing and getting ideas nonstop!  Here's one to get you started; my personal favorite story of his.

 

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Of course, much of the Imperium would be considered followers of one Dark God or another (usually Khorne) if GW hadn't arbitrarily defined them as being anti-Chaos. Carcharodons are pretty Khorne. A lot of imperial commanders are tricky enough that they might qualify as Tzeentch. Whether or not you fall to Chaos seems to have more to do with what side the authors want you on than your actual actions or behaviors.

 

Being a good guy in Black Crusade is entirely possible, because the 40k universe is intentionally inconsistent. A take on the setting where Chaos is the lesser evil compared to the Imperium is practically canon (such that 40k even has canon) in the Horus Heresy novels, and someone might be willing to make a deal with Beelzebub to drive out the Devil. Then the Dark Powers will set to work trying to twist his good intentions and slowly wear them away. After all, the Word Bearers, Night Lords, and World Eaters are all convinced they're still doing the right thing, and that it is the Imperium that turned away from the path of justice and betrayed them. But maybe your guy can rise above the influence of Chaos. There's definitely something poetic about a regular human heretic having the strength of will to do what Space Marine primarchs could not, sort of like a simple Hobbit having more strength of will than the great kings of Men.

 

And you could also just say that every text in the 40k universe is written as propaganda from various inquisitors, some of whom happen to be slightly more sympathetic to Chaos as a misguided and tragic threat rather than the sum of all evil, but all of whom are nevertheless writing propaganda, and therefore lies. Slaanesh isn't depraved, he just rejects the Imperium's repressive puritanism. Most of the Eldar he "destroyed" were actually raised up to a new and more fulfilling experience as daemons. The Dark Eldar are a cruel distortion of his philosophy, and the Craftworld and Exodite Eldar are repressive radical cults who seek to force their way of life on all others. Khorne is a god of martial valor and courage, which granted does mean that he's necessarily a fan of war, but his disregard for civilian life and bloody-minded insanity is naught by libel and propaganda. Nurgle doesn't cause disease, but rather gives people the strength to endure it and find happiness in a universe fraught with misery and pestilence. Tzeentch is the god of hope and despite the Imperium desperately trying to reframe that as some kind of bad thing, he's actually exactly as awesome as that sounds. Personally I find this less interesting than the well-intentioned person trying to use horrific powers for the sake of good, playing with fire and hoping he won't get burnt, but it's equally valid.

 

You can also do what they suggest in Black Crusade itself and run a Greek tragedy, where the villain-protagonists have a tragic flaw and a redeeming quality, and ultimately they must choose to either reject their flaw or their redeeming quality, and because the Greeks had a surprisingly depressing theater scene, they always end up rejecting the redeeming quality. But the important thing there is that they have a redeeming quality to reject. Someone who's just pure evil all the time is as boring as your blander interpretations of Superman.

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Movie bad guys

Mr Glass, Unbreakable

Kills hundreds of people to find his destined counter part. Tzeench

The Rock, DOOM (yes I failed on names)

Kills because its nessisary turns into mass murder of civilians. Korn

House, House

Addiction and self destructive nature, risks his life just to get high. Murderous tendencies while high (Chase with the strawberry body butter, swollen guy with robotic surgeon when he gets shot) . slannesh

Jigsaw SAW

Gives people joy to be alive, takes great pride in his work and those he chooses. Nurgle

The last one is a little abstract but I think people will get what I mean

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Movie bad guys

Mr Glass, Unbreakable

Kills hundreds of people to find his destined counter part. Tzeench

The Rock, DOOM (yes I failed on names)

Kills because its nessisary turns into mass murder of civilians. Korn

House, House

Addiction and self destructive nature, risks his life just to get high. Murderous tendencies while high (Chase with the strawberry body butter, swollen guy with robotic surgeon when he gets shot) . slannesh

Jigsaw SAW

Gives people joy to be alive, takes great pride in his work and those he chooses. Nurgle

The last one is a little abstract but I think people will get what I mean

 

The Jigsaw thing makes even more sense when you consider that the original Jigsaw Killer was dying of cancer and that was what inspired him to become the Jigsaw Killer in the first place.

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I haven't seen any since he died so I wasn't aware there was another. But yes the canser occurred to me too =)

 

I won't spoil the whole thing for you, but Jigsaw left a cult like dedication of followers in his wake.

 

In fact, you can look at the Jigsaw Killer as a remarkably awesome Nurgle cult leader. Not so much about disease and decay but more about enduring and overcoming horrific pain for the chance of being reborn as something far stronger and redeemed of the sins of your life.

 

The guy even used his own death as a test of character!

Edited by Senshuken

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In fact, you can look at the Jigsaw Killer as a remarkably awesome Nurgle cult leader. Not so much about disease and decay but more about enduring and overcoming horrific pain for the chance of being reborn as something far stronger and redeemed of the sins of your life.

 

 

Hm. I wasn't really convinced of the whole Jigsaw = Nurgle cultist, but this really won me over. Well done.

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I've always thought it was interesting to portray Chaos and Chaos worshipers as being reasonable and to some degree moral. Of course, they are unlikely to be good in the D&D alignment sense, but I think that most Chaos worshipers should come to their belief system in much the same way that anyone does - with generally good intentions, with a desire to better themselves or their world, based on their own biases and circumstances. In the shades of dark gray that we see in the 40K galaxy, I see Chaos worshipers as beings shades of gray themselves, just like humans loyal to the Imperium.

 

While the Imperial Cultist might take ruthless or violent actions based on the fear of Chaos, while we might have the worshipers of Chaos undertaking immoral actions for much the same reson - for some greater good or in opposition to the evils of the Imperium.

 

I could certainly see many good arguments that could bring a reasonable or even moral person to Chaos. One is that Chaos is in a very real way a part of humanity, a reflection of human minds and emotions. Our fears, a anger, our pleasures, and hopes and dreams - Chaos personifies these things, it personifies humanity. It would seem bizarre then to demonize and reject Chaos, especially since Chaos is necessary for the existence of humanity. To be at war with Chaos is to be at war with ourselves. Humanity has magical potential based on our emotions and on our very souls which the crazed fanatics of the Imperium reject, the reject while hypocritically skirting the powers of Chaos for practical reasons - such as utilizing the Warp for travel or psykers for communication.

 

There are many apsects of the Chaos gods and many ways to worship them. I could see one Chaos worshiper being a pagan of sorts, believing in a pantheon of gods that exist in balance and create the balance we see in nature. That pagan chaotic could give sacrifices to the respective gods in their given holiday, with Slaanesh as a Bachus-like figure, Tzeentch a god of wisdom and mystery, and so on. You could have a religion much like Christianity, with the belief in a single all powerful deity with many aspects like the trinity, but with 4 instead of 3 aspects to the supreme god.

 

You could have Chaos worshipers who even have more peaceful (maybe not Khorne) outlooks on their religion. Perhaps you could have a cult of pacifist peace loving pleasure worshipers, who believe in universal love, in embracing all that is beautiful and pleasurable - this could be a group of Slaanesh worshipers. You could have a group of scholars and scientists who believe in unlocking all of the mysteries of the universe, who embrace truth and knowledge and dream of creating a better future through greater learning - these could be Tzeentch worshipers. Even Khorne worshipers could have their own moral codes, that while not peaceful, could be appealing to many of us in certain regards. Personally, I'd broaden the interpretation of Khorne worship a bit, to go beyond just rage and fighting, but doing this isn't really that much of a stretch.

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 Personally, I'd broaden the interpretation of Khorne worship a bit, to go beyond just rage and fighting, but doing this isn't really that much of a stretch.

 

Personally, I could see Khorne being considered a god of Revenge or Retribution. Some might even call him a god of justice, if an extremely bloody, brutal and uncompromising one. The first reaction of most humans when violence is committed against them or their people (Be it friends, family, tribe, nation or planet) is to 'even the score' and respond in kind. Considering how such a mind set often creates an unending cycle of acts of aggression and reprisal that can result in bloodshed and war for decades, centuries or even longer depending on circumstances; After a while it isn't strange for the reason new wars and outbreaks of violence spring up or keep going is because 'we've always been fighting those evil bastards and the only way its going to end is when they are all dead'.

 

It seems like the kind of thing that Khorne would encourage.      

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Personally, I could see Khorne being considered a god of Revenge or Retribution. Some might even call him a god of justice, if an extremely bloody, brutal and uncompromising one.

 

I have often thought that Khorne should represent more than just war, but struggle in and of itself. Kind of like the Darwinian struggle or survival of the fittest, the triumph of the strong over the weak and the rightness of this.

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