Morally-Challenged Characters

In a previous post I created a few new characters that I might use in an upcoming campaign. However they were do-gooders, so I thought it might be an interesting exercise to create characters who were slightly lower on the alignment chart.

Creating evil (or even neutral) characters is always difficult – you can end up objecting to the majority of quests or adventures on the basis of “what do I care?”. And I think every RPG group has had that one player who decides to murder the princess (“because I’m eeeevil…”) rather than rescue her and thus ruins the game for everyone.

So I’ve tried to create characters who are selfish, or downright nasty, but who aren’t completely irredeemable and have some kind of bond with the party to keep the game together.

Ondir – Undine (Water Genasi) Storm Cleric of Umberlee

Str 14 Dex 9 Con 14 Int 12 Wis 16 Cha 10

Proficiencies: Athletics, Insight, Medicine, and Perception (sailor background)

Equipment: Splint mail (heavy armour), trident and shield

Accept the blessing of the sea.
Accept the blessing of the sea.

Ondir always used to say he ‘had the sea in his veins’ but he was born human, to an ordinary family in a fishing village north of Baldur’s Gate. It was too small for him, and he thirsted for adventure on the open sea -not just fish guts- so as soon as he was old enough he skipped town and joined the crew of the first ship that would take him. Although he worked his way from cabin boy to a fully-fledged member of the crew, it still wasn’t enough for him. It was too much work for too little pay and glory.

Worship of Umberlee is common on all sailing vessels, although more out of fear than anything else. Ondir knew the rites from childhood, and became almost a cleric aboard the ships, preaching and carrying out the sacrifices, to avoid the Bitch-Queen’s wrath.

A chance encounter in a shady tavern saw Ondir life change. There was a drinking game, a fistfight, a bargain struck, and he was a member of a pirate crew, now preying on the ships he used to work aboard. For three years they were the terror of the sword coast, somehow always one step ahead of the law, and there was gold (and a certain kind of glory) aplenty. Ondir was sure it was Umberlee’s blessing that gave them such good fortune, although the rest of crew would mock him for his beliefs.

It was all too good to last, and eventually a navy ship caught up to destroyed the pirate vessel, executing whoever survived the wreckage. Ondir went overboard during the attack, and sank with the jetsam. Fading from conciousness, and deep below the waves, Ondir was reborn…

Washing ashore in [place where campaign will take place] Ondir was rescued, and nursed back to health by [party member]. Something had changed in him, and he would never fear the sea again. Umberlee had blessed him, and so he would devote his life to demonstrating her power … right after he repaid [party member] the favour he owed him/her.

How great is the Storm Cleric?! You can just electrocute anyone who dares hit you, and you get a load of attacking power in both spells and equipment. Healing people is overrated anyway…

As there aren’t any ‘good’ gods with the storm domain, I tried to create a character who could be a little bit evil and unhinged, but still with a bond to the party that would keep them working together.

Also: I know that’s not how Genasi are created, and I don’t care.

Gallium – High Elf Assassin (Rogue)

Str 8 Dex 16 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 12 Cha 14

Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, History, Perception, and Persuasion; Expertise: Stealth, and Deception. (noble background)

Equipment: Studded leather (light armour), Rapier, Longbow, daggers (several)

You'll feel much better after a glass of wine...
You’ll feel much better after a glass of wine…

It’s not easy growing up in one of the noble houses of Waterdeep. Gallium’s father was second in line in a fairly minor house, but his family moved higher up the order when his uncle’s wagon caught fire, which also unfortunately locked from the outside, trapping him and his children in the fire.

Gallium himself was thrust into the world of courtly intrigue when his parents suffered a ‘hunting accident’, which was most suspicious in that his family were vegans and had never previously gone hunting. Now head of his family, most were expecting the quick demise of his name, either by submission to a greater house or…other means. However through persuasion, plotting and a little poison Gallium earned the respect of the other houses and his family thrived.

But respect is always fleeting, and turns quickly into jealously or fear. Gallium was on the rise, which meant someone else was falling, and that spelt trouble.

In a series of brilliant manoeuvres (Gallium himself admired their use, even against him), Gallium found himself suspected of a murder he didn’t commit…which was ironic given all the murders he had committed. The city guard were closing in on him, and all that he had worked towards was coming down around him. Swearing he would return to reclaim what was his, he fled the city, and earned a living on the road, putting his particular talents to use.

Rogues are always fun to play, so long as you don’t go full chaotic neutral, and ruin the game by robbing and killing everyone. I mean, that’s still fun, it just doesn’t always fit in with what the rest of the party are trying to do.

I like the idea of a gentleman assassin. After all, the easiest way into someone’s house is to have them invite you in…

I’d see Gallium joining a party as a stepping stone to better things. Perhaps he intends to use them to his own ends once the job is done, maybe he’s just in need of some money after another scheme went wrong.

Darrak – Mountain Dwarf Warlock (Fiend – Pact of the Blade)

Str 15 Dex 12 Con 14 Int 12 Wis 9 Cha 15

Proficiencies: Athletics, History, Religion and Intimidation (soldier background)

Equipment: Half Plate (medium armour) Maul (pact weapon), handaxes

Spells: Eldritch blast, Prestidigitation, Armour of Agathys, Hex, Darkness, Spider Climb

Invocations: Agonising Blast, Devil’s Sight

War, war never changes. Especially when that war is fought between dwarves and orcs and blood has been shed for generations. It was almost routine for Darrak’s clan by now, with constant skirmishes between the orc tribes. Neither side wanted anything from the other side, there was no reason for the fighting other than hatred, with each death leading to a revenge attack, which in turn justified a response, and so it went.

Darrak was a perfectly mediocre dwarf, part of his town’s militia. He had a family, a clan, and a profession. No mountain dwarf would ever admit to happiness, but he had the life he wanted, even if glory through battle was probably beyond him.

Everything changed when his clan started winning the war. Or so they thought. In every battle, in every direction, his clan droves the orcs back and destroyed their settlements. The dwarves stretched further, hunting their enemy through the mountains and valleys. They would sometimes be gone for days at a time, searching for the remnants of the tribes to put them down. Just as the orcs thought they would.

Darrak the vengeful.
My patron and I demand your blood.

A new leader had emerged in the orc tribes. Less strong, and less concerned with constant destruction, but with a brilliant tactical mind. Her plan was for one decisive strike against the clan’s home while the main force was away, and the dwarves fell into the trap perfectly.

What do you do when you come home and find you’ve lost everything? In Darrak’s case he didn’t weep, didn’t mourn, he sought revenge. And someone, or something, from the lower planes heard him, perhaps felt him, and offered him a deal…

The problem with revenge is that it doesn’t end. No blood shed could bring back what was lost, and Darrak had shed so much. Once he had butchered all the orcs he could find, he turned to his own clan leaders. Those who had ordered him away, to abandon his family, to leave them to die.

And on he went, forever seeking a new target for his burning revenge, each life lost damning him further.

I love the roleplaying potential of the warlock, I’m just not so sure on the mechanics. It feels like a class from a different game that’s been pushed into D&D. The spellcasting, invocations and pacts are just…odd. Although I’d love to play one and get to grips with it in practice.

Getting Darrak to work with a party should be simple – so long as they share a common enemy he’ll fight with them. I see him acting a little like the Punisher – seeking ‘vengeance’, and following his own (warped) morality.

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