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My friends and I are playing a custom quest where our goal is to stop Asmodeus from reaching god hood. However, my problem is that I am playing a Warlock (Lawful Evil) who is evil and worships Asmodeus; he follows all commandments of Asmodeus, and is very loyal.

Should I stop my party from defeating Asmodeus by playing small tricks and misleading them like my character would do? Or should I ignore this because I think stopping them would make the quest less fun for my party? (My DM kind of implied the latter, without saying it outright.)

We haven't started the quest yet. I made the character for this quest. The DM gave my character a special ability for worshiping Asmodeus (we have a house rule were if you are playing a Warlock, you get a special ability depending on your patron). He made the quest, and told us about it after I made my character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Self Please do not answer in comments: Should users refrain from answers (or partial answers) in comments? \$\endgroup\$ May 3 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related from the DM perspective: How can I handle a PC wanting to be a “twist” villain? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    May 4 at 4:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Essentially, you're playing a character who would want the party to fail at their objective. A big part of how to handle this will hinge on how this happened. Did you choose this backstory for your character, or did the DM have input on it? \$\endgroup\$ May 4 at 9:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Obligatory Session Zero drum-beating: if you haven't had one yet, you should. This seems like something you should bring up there. \$\endgroup\$
    – R. Barrett
    May 4 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the current sentiment with the party/how long have you been travelling together? Are you a well trusted member, is everyone still getting to know each other? Depending on how things are at the moment would dictate how jarring/uncomfortable the other players might find this. \$\endgroup\$ May 5 at 11:00
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The Hidden Third Option: Don't Play This Character

Based on information in the main text of the post, as well as answers to questions in the comments, this character:

  1. Has never been played at all,
  2. Was not accidental, but designed in full knowledge of the nature of the adventure you're going on, and
  3. Lacks the typical warlock "easy out" by having the character an enthusiastic, actively loyal supported of Asmodeus
  4. Seems to lack enthusiasm and support of the GM

You've identified the major symptoms of the problem: You as a player face the stark choice of either playing the character true to itself and working against the party, possibly ruining their enjoyment; or remaining true to the group of players and characters but not remaining true to your own character.

This problem has a name, as others have mentioned in other answers, is My Guy Syndrome, named for the refrain most often heard with these characters: "But that's what my guy would do!" where that is inevitably something detrimental or even opposed to the party's general goals and well-being.

But the now-standard response to that is that the character only has those traits because you put them there.

Now, there are ways-- in theory, with support from the right GM and often from the right group of players-- that this sort of character can work. Other answers outline the general path to that, which involves a lot of coordination with the GM and possibly the players.

This isn't that answer

This is the answer that is very skeptical that you can square the circle inherent in your character, and get support from the GM and the players. It's not impossible, but I am skeptical.

This is the answer that strongly encourages you to meditate on why you created a character that, by definition and if played straight, must be in conflict with the rest of the group, and to consider if the fun you have in playing this character will come directly at the expense of the fun of the rest of the table. (Mostly because your character's goals and the party's goals seem to be completely against each other.)

This is the answer that strongly encourages you to modify the character enough that it can be on board with the general goal of the campaign. Whether that means just changing the nature of the Warlock pact or scrapping the character and starting over is something no one can answer but you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Items 2 and 4 seem to be contradicted by OP's recent comment "he gave my character a special a ability for worshiping Asmodeus... he made the quest & told us about it after I made my character". This answer is excellent advice for the general case of characters with motivation to betray the party, but I don't think it actually applies in this specific scenario. \$\endgroup\$ May 3 at 17:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ +100. I mean, just scratch off Asmodeus's name, and write in a different evil deity to be loyal to, and everything gels again. Warlocks don't even require deities to do this, merely a disgruntled arch-devil would suffice \$\endgroup\$
    – Gus
    May 3 at 17:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TimSparkles That comment came along after the answer. The answer is based on the comment: "We haven't started the quest yet. I made the character for this quest, so I haven't played it at all," which along with the GM's knowledge of and implied dislike for the concept led me to believe that the character was designed with full knowledge. I will ponder how to update this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    May 3 at 18:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gus Even better, the patron can even be one of Asmodeus's lieutenants or something who uses the spirit (and letter, these are devils) of Asmodeus's own commandments to justify overthrowing him when given the chance. \$\endgroup\$
    – raithyn
    May 3 at 18:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think they also have to ask why the party would want this character to journey with them. Having a Warlock who worships the "big bad guy" of the quest tag along doesn't seem like a logical conclusion, and is bound to cause numerous issues throughout. \$\endgroup\$
    – App-Devon
    May 4 at 20:08
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Ask your DM and fellow players for their advice.

You are currently facing an all-too-common conflict that is sometimes called "my guy syndrome", where your character has in-game motives for doing something that could make the game unfun for the real players. What's important is that you and your friends have fun, and that is entirely up to how they feel about your character and your actions. Unfortunately, internet strangers can't predict the outcome of that.

It also sounds like you aren't sure what the DM wants. The best way to clarify that is to ask the DM themselves. Nobody else can tell you what your DM is thinking.

If you work against the party, it is possible that the DM and your fellow players will find that clever, and appreciate the betrayal. Or maybe they'll see you as "that guy" who tried to ruin their campaign. Either way, this route will involve creating a lot of inter-party tension and lying to your friends. This could make the game stressful for you and for them in the long-term, and may even risk players dropping out. And if your warlock successfully helps Asmodeus, then everyone else loses, and D&D campaigns tend to fall apart when the players turn against each other.

Cooperating with the party would be a much safer approach, and probably more socially fun, since D&D systems generally assume that all players are on the same team. Maybe you and the DM come up with some lore to justify this. For example, Asmodeus is all about deception and betrayal, so perhaps acting against the devil god could be seen as some twisted method of worship. Warlocks in D&D 5e don't need to be loyal to their patrons anyway, and may even oppose their patron. The other players could appreciate some sort of character development as the warlock's loyalties change. They may even consider it advantageous to have an ally with insider knowledge about Asmodeus and the enemies they are facing.

Based on similar experiences, I strongly suggest you discuss this out-of-game with the other players and DM. Explain where your character currently is, and what choices they may be facing. Ask how they feel about this. Maybe they'll think the evil double-agent route is exciting because it adds intrigue. Maybe they'll want to play it safe and have everyone work together. Maybe some of the players have been in similar situations, and they'll have better advice than what internet strangers can provide.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 Indeed. Thanks for mentioning "my-guy syndrome". Exactly my thoughts. So many lives of great PCs have been lost at our tables due to this syndrome. If I am DMing, I explain this at session zero now. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Thank-Glob
    May 2 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ In my experience this has worked well. We have always been completely upfront with other players, which is key.. Also from my experience (in a game 30 years ago) a player surprised the rest of the party with betrayal. One player's (not character) response was "you've been lying to us for the past year? That's unforgivable!". It ended ended the game and ended their freindship. \$\endgroup\$ May 5 at 3:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would not talk about it with the other players. talk to the DM only. But have a second character rolled with you at all times. you cannot prevent the PC from killing/banning your Character if they find out. thus needing a new character. \$\endgroup\$ May 5 at 19:42
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Figure out why your character is with the party.

What is his reason to go along with them, if the party's goal is so directly counter to his personal goals?

  • Does he have a personal connection to one or more of the other party members? Maybe he's more loyal to that party member (e.g. a sibling or lover) than to his own patron and religious beliefs.

  • Does he want the party as temporary allies against some other, greater threat? Maybe both the good party members and your evil warlock both seek to overthrow a particular king, though for different reasons.

  • Does he think that sticking close to a party of his patron's enemies will allow him to mitigate or obstruct their plans? This could be tricky to play, as you'd essentially be working against the party at a strategic level, while helping them in day to day stuff like surviving random encounters. You'd definitely want your DM's approval before playing in this way (and at least the general concept of PC betrayal should have been discussed with the whole group in a session zero). Expect your character to become an NPC at some point (maybe only the end of the campaign, but maybe much sooner) after you can no longer maintain the ruse of cooperation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely this. It's not "figure out whether your character is loyal to the party"; by you choosing to play this game with your friends, it's a given that your character is loyal to the party, even to the extent of defeating his patron. Your job is to come up with your favourite narrative justification for this, which can be a very interesting arc or seed for character development. \$\endgroup\$ May 4 at 11:20
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A Warlock's relationship with his/her patron can be one of the most varied and interesting parts of the character.

A Warlock is not necessarily a devout follower of their patron. You could be very reluctant about being a Warlock to begin with, see it as a curse, or as a means to an end.

Generally, it's very hard to play a character that has the complete opposite goals to the party, so I would recommend that your character does not want to have Asmodeus as a patron, and part of his quest is to end the contract that made him a Warlock in the first place.

You can roleplay that leveling up and gaining more power from your patron is a way to fight fire with fire. It's a common trope/archetype for a character to dabble with evil forces to stop the evil forces.

Or, you could also play like a sort of Star Wars sith rule of two situation, where there is a mutual understanding that you wish to overthrow Asmodeus, and at the same time Asmodeus is always looking for a better pawn/apprentice.

What you want to avoid is a character that will sabotage or betray the party, because it is extremely easy to be annoying and frustrating, instead of narratively interesting

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Quite apart from the "how do I avoid disaster?" tone of the question, I would actually love to see this idea play out at my table. Legitimately trying to defeat Asmodeus in order to free yourself from his taint is a very different situation. It leaves a lot of room for nuance, too: does your character start out trying to sabotage the group and is moved to support them as a result of his personal journey along the way? Or was he out to defeat Asmodeus from the start? If you must act against the party, having reached for redemption and found yourself outwitted by an archdevil amps up the drama. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mikkel
    May 3 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Good answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 4 at 3:45
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It's your character

As a player, you have a lot of creative control over what your character actually thinks and does. Several years of RPG experience have shown me that this can be a greatly effective tool. As a fellow gamer is fond of saying, you can paint almost anything.

Let me give you a few examples off the top of my head:

  • Maybe Asmodeus's plan to achieve godhood actually requires that he be defeated twice over the span of 144 years. He was thwarted once, in the past, by a party not too dissimilar to yours, and now it's your turn. Sixty-eight years from now, that's when he'll finally succeed.

  • Maybe that's not actually true, but your character is convinced that it is, because someone with high influence posing as another worshiper of Asmodeus "let you in on the secret", and now you're actually working against your patron, but your character has just been duped.

  • Or maybe, Asmodeus doesn't actually want godhood, but he needs to take a convincing stab at it, as part of a power play to gain influence over some other aspect. So he made sure there was a party out there strong enough to "stop" him, and he also made sure one of his trusted followers was in there, so that they actually succeed in stopping him. Devious devil, that guy.

Or maybe it's something else entirely. The point is that, as a player, you need to work with the group, but that is (almost) never incompatible with whatever character framework you want to create. You just have to find the right character motivation that connects that framework to the group agenda.

But it's the table's story

Note that all of this is about how you the player view your own character. The actual fictional truth (so to speak) is largely under the GM's purview and is, in fact, subject to arbitrary change until it is narrated at the table. But even if that narration contradicts what you had imagined, in my experience, it still remains possible to reconcile the character's views with the actual fictional events without any fundamental change to his mental framework.

Naturally, you have nothing to lose in discussing all of this with your GM. It'll make that reconciliation (and his job of managing the flow of the story) that much easier.

A caveat

I have tried this technique myself with great success. Many (most?) times, the motivations I decided internally ended up not clashing with the story at all. The few times that it did, we hashed it out at the table and the story became richer for it.

I have also seen it done by a few other players a few times, and I speculate that it's happened a lot more, but because it's simply a largely internal process, it simply didn't come up.

Once only, I had a player that was unable to reconcile. From what I gathered from the discussion, that was due to them being much too invested in all the minute details they cooked up in their head. That player was left with a dissatisfied feeling about the campaign and his character, and ended up quitting shortly thereafter, even though everyone was more than willing to accommodate them.

So I guess the caveat is, when you (re-)imagine your character's motivations, don't conjure up too much detail, or you may paint yourself into a corner if they happen to clash with the story at the table.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Folding in the GM piece rounds out the answer nicely. 😊 \$\endgroup\$ May 5 at 12:47
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Use the Lawful part of Lawful Evil

Your character is Lawful Evil, and is a devout follower of a Lawful Evil being that is the basis of the infernal contract. Perhaps they have signed a contract that stipulates that they are to help the party. What they get in exchange is a matter of what suits the character best, but the opportunity to defeat demons is an obvious possibility.

Preventing Asmodeus's plans is bad... but so is breaking a contract - in fact, perhaps, in the sect that your Warlock belongs to, breaking a contract is sacrilegious and heretical, akin to the actions of a demon.

Of course, devils love to leverage the subtleties of contracts in their favour. Your warlock might be duty-bound by contract to help the party, perhaps to "prevent disaster" - preventing Asmodeus's rise might be their goal, but yours need not align perfectly, so long as it satisfies the contract.

If the party is aware of the contract, then it becomes a fun tug of war as you look for loopholes in the contract and they look for ways to prevent the loopholes from being used.

The nice thing about this solution is that you can always tweak as needed - get the other players and the DM to give feedback, and if people aren't enjoying it, just retcon a bit to tighten the contract so that your character more closely sticks with following the party's activities - they just find little opportunities to do things that progress their own goals and sometimes choosing methods of achieving team goals that the rest of the team might disapprove of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While it can work out well, it can also work out as the rest of the party getting fed up and telling the player "Ya know, it's not all about you" - your ideas are not bad, per se, but they require buy in from the rest of the table to work for the whole play group. Seen it go both ways. (no vote either way) \$\endgroup\$ May 5 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast - if it starts looking like the rest of the party get frustrated with it, just make the contract tighter, so there aren't really substantial loopholes, and now you have a character who will go along with the broader plans more directly, but may choose methods the rest disapprove of, or finding opportunities to advance their own goals along the way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glen O
    May 7 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Glen, not sure if you want to add that amplification into the answer or not; it's a good way to deal with that "and if this is what happens" for this kind of situation. \$\endgroup\$ May 7 at 17:29
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Talk to your DM first... alone...

Actually as a DM I really really love such ideas. A character seemingly loyal to the group in fact plotted against them all the time. It's such a great twist and is an opportunity for great role-play. I know many DMs that love that idea as well and heard of and experienced many awesome stories that this interesting dynamic can create. But not every DM is ready for/willing to do that because it needs additional preparation and some effort out-of-game (plus secret meetups between "spy" and DM). It can be awesome but isn't that easy to work out if it's spanned over the course of a whole campaign.

If you want to do that and if your DM is okay with it to walk that extra mile with you... maybe consider not to talk to your party about it... maybe conceal the fact who your true patron is... because everything else would spoil the surprise. But have an intense talk with your DM and if he or she is not okay with it... maybe consider option 2...

Don't play this character

Seriously. You know that the campaign is against Asmodeus. Maybe don't play one of his henchmen. If I was your DM and not okay with traitor characters I wouldn't allow you to play a warlock of Asmodeus. There are plenty of other classes/subclasses to pick from. Does it really have to be Asmodeus, couldn't it be a rivaled fiend? Orcus? Mephistopheles? Asmodeus is not the only possible patron for a fiend warlock.

Whatever you do...

Don't plot against the group without a clear OKAY from your DM. If you plot against the group you basically play a NPC or a hidden Co-DM. You just act as a player but for you it's not like playing the game. For that you have to work closely together with the DM in secret. It does work, but it's a lot of effort for both you and your DM. But honestly what you told us doesn't sound like your DM is pretty much into that idea... And in case you already talked to your group about playing a warlock of Asmodeus, there's really no point in playing a traitor character anymore. Because the whole point of a taitor is that no-one knows about their true nature.

Again: An experienced DM can make that work. I did it a couple of times and it worked out nicely. Once I had two players plotting against the group at once without knowing from each other. That reveal was awesome^^ It kinda broke the immersion because everyone was laughing, but it was a super fun moment.

And immediately after the reveal you practically die as a player character. Because once revealed you turn hostile and lose your character sheet. So if you want to do that at my table have one character in reserve. It's just a NPC that returns to my NPC box and maybe returns as a mini-boss.

But up to this point of final revelation you play your character like an ordinary party member. Maybe they have a couple of ambushes... coincidentally during your shift. But apart from that you shouldn't be an obvious hindrance. When the reveal comes, your character is just another minion played by the DM. If you're okay with that, it can work, otherwise play something else...

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If you really want to do this, you need to be prepared. Playing a character at odds with the party, or even outright against them can create amazing moments or it can ruin entire campaigns.

Is the GM on board with this? If the answer is anything less than an emphatic "yes", do not do this. This can be difficult and awkward for the GM and they're the one that has to work through the fallout if this goes wrong.

Have you and your group played games with disparate goals before? If your default assumption is that everyone in the party wants the same thing, do not do this, at least not without explicitly discussing this. Even then, I'd advise against going straight into a game with a traitor.

If your group is ok with this, great. Now, are you?

If your first thought is how you're going to outsmart all the other players and win, sorry to burst your bubble here. You will fail your goals or at the very least be forced to compromise. Even if you succeed- despite being outnumbered by players at least as dastardly as you, you will have to throw it away. Are you willing to play, knowing that is the case? If your answer to this isn't yes, stop reading.

I lied- things may not be 100% hopeless. You needed to think about that eventuality though. Ultimately, you may have to decide between victory and the rest of the group's enjoyment. This is the same struggle GMs go through, though you're far more invested.

There's a high chance that you will be forced to abandon your character. Chances are, the party may decide they don't want your character around. In this case, accept that. Do not use "but I'm a PC" or "don't split the party" as an excuse. Players innately know that and have a high tolerance for insane/evil/useless/traitorous characters- don't push it.

Once that occurs, you are an NPC. Don't demand the GM splits focus during the game- make a more conducive character. You will not hold this against the party, nor will you get a second chance and screwing them over.

If what I described sounds bleak, that's probably for the best. Go make a character that's part of the party.

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