Thought Experiment: EW with bad guy PCs

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Knight of the Lady
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This is something that I've been thinking a little about. I am currently playing EW for the first time with my group and so haven't read the whole campaign. But I still wanted to discuss the following scenario of playing this, and possibly other, campaigns from a bad guy perspective. I have no current plans to run a campaign like that but I thought it could be interesting to air the idea.

The basic idea is thus that you essentially the same metaplot in stoping the Purple Hand and all that stuff. But instead of being a band of heroes from the order-aligned factions of the Old World, you play as members of those who are traditional villains. Such as Chaos cultists (from other cults), cultists to Khaine and Ahalt, Chaos Dwarfs, Chaos worshipping Northmen, Beastmen and Chaos aligned mutants and so on. Only Skaven and Orcs might be unplayable since I've gotten the view that they don't make for good team players, with possible exceptions of Black Orcs, and might prove to be more problem than benefit to the campaign.

Now I understand that many of these choices makes for difficult interaction with conventional society but I think that might be possible to fix through interaction with morally bankrupt, deranged and corrupt members of said society and moving about with stealth or aid from Chaos cults, deranged criminals and so on.
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Hyarion
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To the members of the Honorable and Fraternal Order of the Extremely Irate Water Buffalo, a very sophisticated Chaos cult, the Purple Hand is nothing but a bunch of amateurish hacks who risk too much. If they succeed, they risk bringing more witch hunters to the area (who might accidentally find/expose other members of the Water Buffalo Lodge), so they must be stopped. Or perhaps someone is selling information, and the PCs are in a race against the Purple Hand. I'll think about this one some more.
I hold the glaive of Law against the Earth.
Knight of the Lady
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Hyarion wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:12 pm
To the members of the Honorable and Fraternal Order of the Extremely Irate Water Buffalo, a very sophisticated Chaos cult, the Purple Hand is nothing but a bunch of amateurish hacks who risk too much. If they succeed, they risk bringing more witch hunters to the area (who might accidentally find/expose other members of the Water Buffalo Lodge), so they must be stopped. Or perhaps someone is selling information, and the PCs are in a race against the Purple Hand. I'll think about this one some more.
Not really true if I understand you.

Most Chaos cults are happy to stab each other in the back and in the Purple Hand brings home the bacon for the Chaos gods, then the other cults will not do so and get no benefit for not having been the one who brought down the Empire.

In my view the different Chaos cults are always at each other's throats and that's a significent reason as to why the Old World hasn't been thrown down. And to be honest, for those who have played the Black Crusade RPG, Chaos infighting can be pretty entertaining and make for very different games from fighting for the forces of order.
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totsuzenheni
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You seem to have divided the Empire into 'forces of Order' and 'forces of Chaos', of which i'd say (even in fourth edition) the majority of the Empire's populace, including the sample PCs given in the original TEW, do not belong to. Further, in so far as they exist, the 'forces of Order' (aka Solkan, Alluminas, et al, and their servants), in the first edition at any rate, weren't exactly the 'good guys'. Also, i don't think that belonging to a cult (of Khaine, or Slaanesh, or Solkan) in and of itself means that it will be difficult for the PCs to interact with normal society, otherwise i doubt the Purple Hand could exist at all.

I think playing as cultists, belonging to a Law or a Chaos cult (such as those in the vain Hyarion gave a sample piece of writing on) could be interesting. I think the most interesting part might be the PCs being able to draw on the resources of their cult, whilst at the same time adhering to their cult's strictures and hierarchy.
Knight of the Lady
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totsuzenheni wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:46 pm
You seem to have divided the Empire into 'forces of Order' and 'forces of Chaos', of which i'd say (even in fourth edition) the majority of the Empire's populace, including the sample PCs given in the original TEW, do not belong to. Further, in so far as they exist, the 'forces of Order' (aka Solkan, Alluminas, et al, and their servants), in the first edition at any rate, weren't exactly the 'good guys'. Also, i don't think that belonging to a cult (of Khaine, or Slaanesh, or Solkan) in and of itself means that it will be difficult for the PCs to interact with normal society, otherwise i doubt the Purple Hand could exist at all.

I think playing as cultists, belonging to a Law or a Chaos cult (such as those in the vain Hyarion gave a sample piece of writing on) could be interesting. I think the most interesting part might be the PCs being able to draw on the resources of their cult, whilst at the same time adhering to their cult's strictures and hierarchy.
The comment on the "forces of order" was meant as a shorthand for everyone who opposes Chaos, or just want to uphold the orthodox status quo in the Old World. I didn't really think about the Law forces as I came into the Warhammer hobby long after the Law parts had been pretty much disbanded from the fluff. In fact I think that I first encountered it as a concept back in the "Strike to Stun" days.

You are also right in that many cultists will not have difficulty to interact with the greater society. But I think that can become an issue when characters starts to advance into Chaos Warrior careers or gain mutantions and gifts. And even more so if someone would, for example, want to play as, for example, a Beastman.

But you are right in that the dimension of belonging to an organization can absolutely add a dimension to the campaign that would make it different from "normal" campaigns with adventurers.
Herr Arnulfe
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Based on my experiences playing evil campaigns, TEW would be far too long for a thought experiment. Most of the satisfaction of playing an evil PC comes from entertaining the other players with your interpretation. Players don't tend to derive much enjoyment from committing evil acts in-game.
Knight of the Lady
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:22 pm
Based on my experiences playing evil campaigns, TEW would be far too long for a thought experiment. Most of the satisfaction of playing an evil PC comes from entertaining the other players with your interpretation. Players don't tend to derive much enjoyment from committing evil acts in-game.
Based on my experience there's a value in playing evil campaigns. In fact the best campaigns in, for example, computer RPGs that I've played has been when I went the bad guy route as in Knights of the Old Republic or Baldur's Gate (the part when you masquerade as Drow is in my opinion the best piece in the entire series). Its really a shame there are so few purposefully bad guy RPGs out there. Yes, I know its a niche market but I would still like more of it. :)

EDITED: For those who have played the RPG "Tyranny" you would know how interesting and thought provocative a bad guy campaign can be.
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Toby Pilling
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I think that a party such as you are advocating would collapse fairly quickly, as Herr Arnulfe predicts. Theft, torture and murder pale quite quickly - I believe cartoony type villains have a chance to last longer as PCs, such as Skaven or Goblinoids.
Having said that, one could take each player aside and say at the start of the game that they are secretly a cultist. What they hopefully wouldn't realise is that each of the party is also a secret cultist, but of a different evil/chaotic god. Even then, I suspect it wouldn't take them long to figure it out with the amount of secret messages flowing about.
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Sword of Solkan
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Toby Pilling wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:03 am
I think that a party such as you are advocating would collapse fairly quickly, as Herr Arnulfe predicts. Theft, torture and murder pale quite quickly - I believe cartoony type villains have a chance to last longer as PCs, such as Skaven or Goblinoids.
Having said that, one could take each player aside and say at the start of the game that they are secretly a cultist. What they hopefully wouldn't realise is that each of the party is also a secret cultist, but of a different evil/chaotic god. Even then, I suspect it wouldn't take them long to figure it out with the amount of secret messages flowing about.
I agree that this is probably best treated as a thought experiment (or perhaps a one-shot) as it might be a bit too unstable for a long-term campaign.

That said, running the game online could present a few options for working around the last part. Makes it far easier to exchange secret messages, and to run one-on-one scenes in private.
Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.
Knight of the Lady
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Toby Pilling wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:03 am
I think that a party such as you are advocating would collapse fairly quickly, as Herr Arnulfe predicts. Theft, torture and murder pale quite quickly - I believe cartoony type villains have a chance to last longer as PCs, such as Skaven or Goblinoids.
Having said that, one could take each player aside and say at the start of the game that they are secretly a cultist. What they hopefully wouldn't realise is that each of the party is also a secret cultist, but of a different evil/chaotic god. Even then, I suspect it wouldn't take them long to figure it out with the amount of secret messages flowing about.
I don't know about that. With a common purpose and a greater goal I don't see why it must fall together more than a party with humans from different nations or with more than one species in it.

Cartoonish and over-the-top villainy will get old. Yes. But new things will not get old and for you information we have already played campaigns like "Thousand Thrones" and "Doomstones" and a custom campaign in the northern Empire where we had secret cultists in the party. Even in "Enemy Within" so far we've had one Khorne cultist, one Slaanesh cultist and a Chaos Dwarf and the party didn't fall apart and we didn't indulge in random acts of "Stupid Evil" activity. We did even have the Khorne and Slaanesh cultist in the same party, along with a zealous Sigmarite knight I might point out, and we still moved the campaign ahead and made good progress.

Now I did suggest the idea of playing Goblinoids who lives in a fallen Dwarf fortress and contends with each other, the Skaven in the lower parts of the karak, and various events that just kind of happens. But while we have played a Skaven adventure I didn't really get that much enthusiasm for the game with Greenskins. But I might raise the issue again and see what they say. :)
Sword of Solkan wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:07 am
Toby Pilling wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:03 am
I think that a party such as you are advocating would collapse fairly quickly, as Herr Arnulfe predicts. Theft, torture and murder pale quite quickly - I believe cartoony type villains have a chance to last longer as PCs, such as Skaven or Goblinoids.
Having said that, one could take each player aside and say at the start of the game that they are secretly a cultist. What they hopefully wouldn't realise is that each of the party is also a secret cultist, but of a different evil/chaotic god. Even then, I suspect it wouldn't take them long to figure it out with the amount of secret messages flowing about.
I agree that this is probably best treated as a thought experiment (or perhaps a one-shot) as it might be a bit too unstable for a long-term campaign.

That said, running the game online could present a few options for working around the last part. Makes it far easier to exchange secret messages, and to run one-on-one scenes in private.
I disagree but please see my comments above.
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Sword of Solkan
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Fair enough, you know your group a lot better than we do. 🙂

If I were to go this route myself, I’d be inclined to have all the PCs be members of one specific Cult (e.g. you’re all Yellow Fang, or all worshippers of Ahalt) to bind them more closely together, but YMMV.
Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.
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Sword of Solkan
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Knight of the Lady wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:03 am
[Even in "Enemy Within" so far we've had one Khorne cultist, one Slaanesh cultist and a Chaos Dwarf and the party didn't fall apart and we didn't indulge in random acts of "Stupid Evil" activity. We did even have the Khorne and Slaanesh cultist in the same party, along with a zealous Sigmarite knight I might point out, and we still moved the campaign ahead and made good progress.
Out of interest, how did your Sigmarite manage to work with a Khorne and a Slaanesh cultist? Did he know what they were?
Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.
Knight of the Lady
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Sword of Solkan wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:47 am
Knight of the Lady wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:03 am
[Even in "Enemy Within" so far we've had one Khorne cultist, one Slaanesh cultist and a Chaos Dwarf and the party didn't fall apart and we didn't indulge in random acts of "Stupid Evil" activity. We did even have the Khorne and Slaanesh cultist in the same party, along with a zealous Sigmarite knight I might point out, and we still moved the campaign ahead and made good progress.
Out of interest, how did your Sigmarite manage to work with a Khorne and a Slaanesh cultist? Did he know what they were?
The knight didn't know about the others and the cultists didn't know of the other cultist. And since both cultists didn't draw attention to themselves and didn't flash mutations and such openly (as well as rolled for stuff that could be concealed without drawing attention to themselves). So since they played it smart, got some luck with mutations and gifts, and in the Khorne cultist's case managed to corner and quickly, and quietly, murder a person who was on to her, they kept their covers.
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Gideon
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If the PCs were, say, members of rival cults hostile to the Purple Hand, I think most of the campaign would not require major surgery, at least up to Power Behind the Throne. You would need to change Shadows Over Bögenhafen to provide the PCs with incentives to investigate Johannes Teugen. You would also need to provide more motivation to investigate the taxes in Middenheim (though you probably need to do that, anyway).

Something Rotten in Kislev and Empire in Flames might pose more challenges, but there are good reasons to ditch those adventures, anyway.
Knight of the Lady
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Sword of Solkan wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:19 pm
Fair enough, you know your group a lot better than we do. 🙂

If I were to go this route myself, I’d be inclined to have all the PCs be members of one specific Cult (e.g. you’re all Yellow Fang, or all worshippers of Ahalt) to bind them more closely together, but YMMV.
This is certainly a possibility. Like if you let each have their own cult or god they each got their own thunder but characters will probably be pretty stereotype. If everyone's part of the same cult then the players must diversify concepts from the same cult. But at the loss of choice for the players and risk of somewhat less diversified skill set in the party.

When I think about it, it can become a very important part of the campaign set-up in how the GM handles it.
Gideon wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:58 pm
If the PCs were, say, members of rival cults hostile to the Purple Hand, I think most of the campaign would not require major surgery, at least up to Power Behind the Throne. You would need to change Shadows Over Bögenhafen to provide the PCs with incentives to investigate Johannes Teugen. You would also need to provide more motivation to investigate the taxes in Middenheim (though you probably need to do that, anyway).

Something Rotten in Kislev and Empire in Flames might pose more challenges, but there are good reasons to ditch those adventures, anyway.
One idea I had for Johannes Teugen in SoB is that perhaps the characters' cult, or a cult involving one of the characters, could be active in Bögenhafen but almost everything they try they find themselves essentially hindered indirectly by various "events" that just seem to happen. The local cult has some loose hints and stuff on Johannes Teugen or the city council but since they are certain their own identities are compromissed they can't investigate themselves. The player characters however are new and so can have a chance to look into these things and see who is messing with the cult.
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