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 Is this PC evil?

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Galstaff
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PostSubject: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:20 am

So I'm playing my first 4E game in a while this Sunday (part of the reason I joined this forum, this site is like therapy - IT'S OKAY TO PLAY 4E) and for irrelevant reasons I can't contact my DM, probably won't talk to her until the game.  That's why I have no idea what role I should be fulfilling.  Partially to cover all my bases and partially because WHY NOT I'm making a character for every role, I'll just choose the appropriate character sheet at the last minute.  I have a few questions about my striker...
He's a halfling rogue, and most people would not consider him socially acceptable.  I thought it would be fun to have a character who's just completely irrational, and this is him.  He acts nice, but he's super manipulative (16 CHA - doin' 3d6+7 dmg with Sly Flourish + Sneak Attack, baby!).  He's very greedy for no reason (Character background: Comes from a healthy family.  Wants to get rich quick... and FAST!).  He steals from perfectly decent people... no Robin Hood mentality here.
However, he objects to gratuitous violence.  Perhaps not so much as a Lawful Good paladin would, but he sees no reason to kill people.  Just, you know, borrow from them.  He sees everyone as one big family, and that's why it's not wrong to take money from them.

Is this guy evil?  I listed his alignment as Chaotic Neutral (Chaotic for clarity's sake, just like I put him as a Trickster Rogue).  He worships Avandra, though.  He also perfectly fits the first paragraph of the Evil alignment (PHB1 p20):
Evil characters don't necessarily go out of their way to hurt people, but they're perfectly willing to take advantage of the weakness of others to acquire what they want.
He doesn't fit the full 3 paragraphs on the good alignment, but despite his questionable moral practices he definitely stands for "freedom and kindness," which is the basic description for Good on PHB1 p19.  Kindness, because he is compassionate, he just doesn't apply the rules to himself.  If he thinks he genuinely hurt someone, he might not return what he stole, but he would try to make it up to them somehow or protect them from further harm.  However, most of the time he won't put himself in real danger unless there was good reason (such as pretty much any D&D campaign).
Edit: also, I felt the need to make this post when I saw the post by chaosfang on the "Things that don't make sense" thread giving his description of alignments. Evil was "self serving b@sterd" which fits this guy pretty well a lot of the time.

So WHAT IS THIS GUY?

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Last edited by Galstaff on Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:24 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : felt the need to change some adjectives, clarify something)
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Headhunter Jones
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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:46 pm

This guy is a potentially disruptive player character is what he is, regardless of alignment (which doesn't matter much at all in 4e). He's a Kender from Dragonlance essentially. If I were the DM or another player in the game, alarm bells would be sounding.

It's a shame your DM hasn't told you what the campaign or adventure will be about so that you can build a character that has motivations tied to that. Because that's what good roleplayers do. Bad roleplayers say "nuts" to that and start thieving and killing and otherwise walking away from or disrupting the adventure everyone else is trying to do. If that's the route you're going with this particular concept, I urge you to reconsider.

Some resources to check out:

11 Ways to be a Better Roleplayer
You are Not Your Character
Six Questions That Will Help You Make a Better Character
Would You Pay Money to Watch Your Character Fight?

Is he evil in alignment terms? By definition, probably. But that's he least of your concerns with this concept.
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Galstaff
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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:14 pm

What if he had some motivation for sticking with the party other than pure greed? Something that would also keep him from stealing from the other PCs/intentionally screwing up their plans?

For example, let's say it was a "save the princess" plot. Despite his bad actions, he secretly would love to be nobility king , and thinks he can not only redeem himself but also can be knighted by doing something so huge for royalty. Part of the way to redeeming himself involves ending his bad habits, and so he must not steal from the PCs... but when he gets really aggravated, he might revert to manipulating/stealing from NPCs even if there are other, albeit more difficult, solutions. Once I know a little more about the campaign, I'll adjust it to something along those lines.

Does that keep him from being a bad party member?

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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:24 pm

It's advisable to start from the metagame position of "I'm going to stick with my allies/party no matter what to make for a better game," then come up with a reason why that's true in the fiction of the game for your character. Same goes for stealing from them and screwing up their plans. If, however, you think stealing from them or screwing up their plans might lead to a fun complication, just ask the other players if it's cool with them and tell them how you think it might turn out. If they're interested, then they'll consent to it and then you guys can play to find out what happens. If they're not cool with it, don't do it. There are all sorts of monsters and villains who don't get upset when you steal from or kill them - ply your trade on them before you turn on your fellow PCs.

The point here is - take full control of your character. It's nothing more than a story construct and regardless of whatever reasons you give him for what he does, you're still in control of him and you are responsible for whether or not he's disruptive to the game or annoying to the other players and DM. "It's just what my character would do" or "My character wouldn't do that" is just somebody being a jerk and then hiding behind a made-up thing. The positive game experience of the actual players at the table is always more important than the motivations and actions of the characters in play. Always.

Ultimately, I don't know your group and what their tolerance level for this sort of thing is. They may be totally cool with it and, if so, hey go nuts. But it's safe to assume people aren't until you ask, so best to err on the side of a character that gets along with his allies and sticks it to enemies however he likes. If you can tie him to specific elements of the upcoming adventure that give him strong reasons to pursue it, so much the better. It's a gift to the DM and allows for the game to move forward. So is tying your character to other PCs in a positive and interesting way. It gives you some history to work with and additional context on why you trust each other and work together on dangerous tasks.
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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:35 pm

I would never try to kill the other PCs/steal from them. Once, I DMed a game where there was this one guy who was to killing things as Captain Kirk is to seducing them. I just need to come up with a viable excuse for why he WOULDN'T do that, so that it doesn't seem out of character - I just wanted a PC who didn't feel that bad about being a jerk to NPCs. But I have to make sure that doesn't interfere with the party's plans... I'll keep all this in mind as I develop his character.

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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:39 pm

Good man. If you haven't already done so, read those links I put above. They're fun to read and might give you some good ideas on how to get what you want while making the game fun for everyone. In RPGs, we're both an audience member and an entertainer. It can be hard to master both roles but when you do the game is better for it!
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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:48 pm

I think the best way to learn how to be a good D&D player is feel what it's like to lose at Munchkin.
When you play as a munchkin (lowercase "m"), everybody loses.
Except for one guy.
One guy totally wins tabletop roleplaying games.

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PostSubject: Re: Is this PC evil?   Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:15 pm

Even if your character begins from a position of child-like innocence about personal property, he should learn real quick that most people get very angry (and possibly screwed over in life-threatening ways) when he 'borrows' their stuff.

Unless he's a total nitwit. As in a mentally-handicapped nitwit. But that's why people hate kender.

And for all that alignment matters, yeah, I'd place him as evil. I personally ascribe to the lowest-common-denominator rule when it comes to "Part good, part evil" characters. Your character's not a murdering psychopath, but evil comes in all shapes and forms.

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