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So I've been running in a Shadowrun group for a while now and my character served as the group's only moral compass. He got killed in a rather dissatisfying string of events, but now it's time to whip up a new runner.

What I'm picturing is a Chaotic Evil counterpart to my former character's (mostly-)Lawful Good sort of character. I recognize that Shadowrun doesn't use the alignment system, but there's really no other way to describe the character otherwise, since I'll intentionally be playing him as edgy and amoral (and more than a little bit nihilistic), where the rest of the runners don't really care so long as they get their paycheck.

Is there any way for me to work in the over-the-top violence and wanton destruction of a Chaotic Evil character with a group that more veers for a pragmatic approach? Basically, I don't want the rest of the group turning the guy in to Knights Errant for the bounty, because he's useful, but I want him to be the sort of guy who everyone's trying to keep from kicking the puppy off a rooftop to calculate its falling speed (and humorous value).

Note that this isn't a system-specific question, alignments listed are used for reference and not because of any mechanical constraints.

EDIT: Do note that this is not a Stupid Evil character, merely a Chaotic Evil one. He's manipulative and greedy, and he will intentionally harm others just because he can get away with it, but he won't risk himself to do so, nor does he feel the need to intentionally violate moral codes just because they're there if doing so presents a risk to him, though if nobody's watching or if he can "get away with it" he will.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Check out Belkar, from the Order of the Stick. A chaotic evil character in a mostly-good-aligned party. See this quote:

Despite his kill-first who-cares-about-asking-questions attitude and lack of party loyalty causing the occasional problem, Belkar has proven to be generally effective as a party member [...] but, with carefully applied threats, the rest of the group have generally been able to keep the halfling under control and they consider him to be one of their own.

Note, though, that the OOTS keeping Belkar around has always been a bit of a stretch for willing suspension of disbelief, allowed mostly for narrative purposes, and often lampshaded by the characters themselves, so it might be a bit of a problem getting the rest of your party behind the idea of sheltering a psycho killer, but if you're fun and over-the-top enough, they might appreciate your dramatic value.

Another option that some might not like is getting explicit buy-in from the players, or at least some you think will be into it. Some might see it as a form of meta-gaming that takes away from the real roleplaying, but others might see it as a social contract that allows the party to play the roles they like and build the narratives they like.

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Actually, Belkar is one of the inspirations for this character. I don't want to explicitly get an OOC buy-in, since that has the negative of the other players feeling obliged to put up with anything my character does. –  Kyle Willey May 5 '13 at 19:37

Sounds like it’s less what you do, and more how you do it

When given the chance to kill or hurt someone, go over the top. Describe the character as making his opponents hurt as much as possible within the constraints of practicality, and have him exult in the pain and destruction he does succeed in causing. In fact, I’d probably have the guy take on the “challenge” of working these kinds of activities into his pragmatic schedule: he doesn’t risk the mission for these things, because part of the point is being clever/skilled enough to work them into his mission so that it benefits everyone. And make sure his allies know it.

Also make sure your fellow players are on board with that

This could easily head into uncomfortable territory for other players. Most players probably won’t mind the character in concept, but you need to figure out exactly what sorts of descriptions add to the terrifying feel of the character and improve the game, and which descriptions only creep people out and should be described in less detail, “off-screen” so to speak. Done well, you can even use that to your advantage: a properly-timed fade to black can leave people imagining things more vividly than a description would have.

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This is with a group I've known a while, and my character won't go that much worse than any of their characters from my first campaign at their darkest. –  Kyle Willey May 5 '13 at 4:27

If you're following the Tao of Bitterleaf route, there are two obvious options:

  1. As a player, assume your inevitable demise when you go too far, and don't get annoyed when it happens. As a character, do what you like, but don't actively sabotage your own group for no good reason (only when it benefits you).
  2. As a player, limit yourself in order to play a maintainable character. As a character, at least at surface level, conform merely for the sake of keeping with a group as long as it's in your own best interests aka Tao of Hallucinatory Shojo.

Critically, in terms of party acceptance, it comes down to "is your behaviour enhancing or detracting from the enjoyment of the game". If your character's behaviour continually breaks their plans and messes with them as players, that's an issue, and you'll probably need OOC agreement. If he's just annoying their characters, that should normally be fine.

At the end of the day, start playing him, but be prepared to hand him over to the DM if it turns out he's not a good fit. If he's a thorn in your group's side, have them kick him out, and then deal with him as a spurned, bitter psychopath with a grudge against them.

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The phrase "assume your inevitable demise" is well applicable here. One of the personality traits of Chaotic individuals would be "does not play well with others". My personal poster-child for CE alignment is The Joker from Batman (especially Mark Hamill's one). –  Greenstone Walker May 6 '13 at 21:27

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