Rants against the streamlining of the alignment aside, it is still the prerogative of the Dungeon Master to refuse to let a player make their character have an Evil alignment. Yes, they exist to be played to some extent, but my own experiences with Player versus Player has made me more than somewhat hesitant about allowing this.
Players turning on each other in my games has very strict guidelines outside of Paranoia. It’s either non-lethal and meant to be humourous (swift action to kick him in the nuts), or you are a player-controlled NPC and impersonal and there expendable.
But then, one of my players approached me about creating a Chaotic Evil fire mage for Tomb of Horrors. I still had my reservations, and I told him this. But now, after two sessions I am convinced her can pull it off…and rather spectacularly I may add.
So really, this just invites a closer look at the issue: can a Chaotic Evil character work in a group? How can this be done? I think it can, and here is how it would.
They need a check rein
Even good-aligned characters such as Roy Greenhilt realise vicious little bastards like Belkar Bitterleaf have their uses…as long as having him in the group doesn’t clash with group dynamics. Belkar is good at killing things, and as long as those pointy little daggers of his don’t sink into the back of another member of the Order of the Stick or an NPC helping them, he serves his purpose.
And once in a while, Roy does step in when Belkar goes to far. And pissing off Roy could mean getting kicked out of the party, forgoing all the possibilities for kills, treasure and XP.
So, you need to have that player who is willing to step in and say “No, you can’t burn down the village/kill those orphans/sleep with and poison the sacred virgins…” and the player needs to back down not because of any sort of morality, but for the fact that the entire party may turn on them if they don’t.
They need the same goal
When the fate of the multi-verse rests on the shoulders of a sorry band of adventurers, you sometimes can’t pick or choose what makes up this group. And good, evil or not-applicable, they’re all in it for different reasons.
An exterior quest, orchestrated right, can bind a group together if they care about it. The Chaotic Evil character may just see it as a good way to destroy things or accumulate wealth or fame, but at least they are there.
They need to be the right person
I’ve said this before, there are the right sort of players to give plot points to. These are the sorts of players I would consider letting play Chaotic Evil. However, if I think that they’ll be disruptive and they will just use the alignment to be a complete and utter prick, then I’ll say no. Show me you can play the game with people within your alignment, and then we’ll talk about it.
The strangest thing is, that as a result of recent events that I know I will just have to blog about, we could see a change in this player. Not sure sure yet what it could mean, but it is bound to be interesting.