How bad would you allow the player to be in your game?

In some games, Hosted Games and Choice of Games alike, the player character can take actions that are morally wrong (not necessarily unlawful in the game world) by our values (and sometimes morally wrong by the in-game world’s values), and get off without any punishment from the narrative. They may also choose to support value and government systems in the game world that are outdated at best in our world, and actively oppressive at worst. However, the option to do so is what I am wondering about.

How bad (morally wrong both in and out of game) do you feel that players should be allowed to be in a CoG/HG game? If you have published a game, have you written paths wherein the MC is unrepentantly morally repugnant by our standards and receives no punishment in-universe for it?

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This has sorta been talked about before in the #adult-content section of the forum, specifically in this thread.

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You can think of this as a PG version of that thread?

This thread may also offer useful context too: In which CoG games can I play a very evil or violent character?

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Yes.

No point in being a villain if there isn’t the possibility of actually winning.

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You can get up to some pretty reprehensible business in my game KDAFR.

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Oh yes. Will be interesting to see if people will be able to outrun the consequences to the end.

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In my WIP (That I have since submitted to HG), the PC is a soldier in a semi-dictatorship. As part of your duties it’s possible to be pretty evil (Worse action is probably throwing a grenade into a enemy tunnel, it’s heavily implied that the enemy would surrender if given the option).

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As bad as they wanna be. Just like Dennis Rodman.

Actually, I would probably only have evil options if the story was known to be standalone or designed with evil in mind, to avoid retcons on future installments because the evil and good endings are too disparate. Nuclear Powered Toaster allowed you to align yourself with the villain, but evil is a bit of a stretch being that the GloPAc government wasn’t all that altruistic either. Had a sequel come about, it would have offered opportunities for some rough stuff to achieve her ends, but with corresponding negative outcomes with most of your party members and, you know, the human race as a whole.

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Depends. Evil for evil’s sake is, in my opinion, just bad writing. I think there should/must be motive. I’ve been playing around with my own wip in letting MC “join” the evil side under the guise of “destiny” or saving someone they care about. So if they player wanted to be evil, there’s a reasoning behind it other than destruction and death, which makes me squeamish to think people want to kill for fun. Idk, it’s about personal preference. There are readers out there who will eat up evil routes and try to do as much bad as possible just because there’s the option to, so it’s really up to how much you can stand to let MC be evil

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It is an interesting question. I think that one thing is allow characters to be evil and another to not have consequences. I mean, being good has a cost and being evil has a diferent cost and outcome.

Sure, you might allow the character to kill, but has the MC bothered to destroid evidence? If not, the MC might be investigated and maybe found our as a murderer. Could the MC run away? Maybe. Depends on still, resources, etc. The cost this time might be to go into exile and never being able to retutn to that country.

Which might not be a bad outcome. But some cost and outcome should happen. And if you go around being a bastard, chances are that your enemy list grow, while your friends reduce. Sons of anarchy or Peaky blinders are a good example about this. Even when they win, they pay a price.

It is not so much about morals, but about world building.

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The level of “badness” would depend on the game’s genre, tone, theme, and so on.

A protagonist gallivanting around a post-apocalyptic world should probably have the option of getting up to some pretty awful things. It’d make sense–the breakdown of society probably led to a lot of change for humanity, some of it not good.

I can get the MC facing consequences for idiocy, tactical mistakes, or arrogance, that’s just realistic. If choices impact how the MC is seen, that makes sense. But being punished by the narrative itself for choices based purely on their morality…

Meh, not a fan of that.

Escapism comes in many forms. Just like when actors play villains while being perfectly normal irl, I find it fun to sometimes play evil characters. It’s something alien to me, and therefore interesting. Same thing goes for writing such characters.

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What is the difference between a character facing negative consequences and “being punished by the narrative”? I’m not sure if a distinction is being drawn there or what it would mean.

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For me it is a question of tone. Facing negative consequences is something that to me makes sense, and is dependent on the players choices. Say that a player cheats on a spouse, facing negative consequences might be being found out because they were sloppy hiding it. On the other hand, if they were punished by the narrative, they would always be found out no matter what, and maybe the path they take through the story won’t be as interesting or fleshed out, to push them onto the ‘right’ path.

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This sounds like a morality play tone, one that “preaches” instead of explores.

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As an evil role player, If I smell that the writer is trying to make a morality run towards the character based on their own personal way of play and not in the storyline or the personality of the character and the world. The only morality in a fictional work would be based on the world-building and the own character with the cooperation via choices of the player.

Preaching the choir only achieve lessening the importance of the writing, anger the player and destroying the choice impact.

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I say give only the necessary “evil” choices for the story if they have an impact but on the story. Don’t let them do it only because you feel is a good impact on the player (like “Oh great I could implode a planet!” and leave it a that no better “I decide I’m pissed off at that people and I knew the story will take notice of my decision”

And by the way it could be true in the other way too…How Good would you allow a player to be?..I see sometimes that some titles force you in the role of the paragon of justice

I think is nice to see good qualities in MC even if in the story he’s the “villain” (an assassin, A dragon eating princessess, a mad scientist and so on, you understand what I mean :wink: because it humanize them, make them more appealing, I think nobody want to play a total jackass…If everyone fear you in the story and hate you is just power without reasons what’s the point? but sometimes the writer force you in telling to the reader:
This is wrong
This is right

Example: Rent a Vice there you play a detective who investigate a case around this people renting experience/emotions and on the market is gone viral the “suicidal” kind of experiences. Now that game for me was a good read but the writer put the MC in front a distinctive truth for them: Whoever allowed the selling of the vices is bad whoever is forced to do extreme experiences is misunderstood (because they register a vice and do so only for get some dough for their poor family, dying in the process). Is like an advocate for: “fight the system!”
and the player is let know if they took the money to keep “his mouth shut” they are Bad…they are the worst and that decision will haunt them for life (that is the ending)… and as the player you need the money to pay your debt and keep costudy of your child… Is a forced dilemma. And the game tell you “well done jackass you saved your family but you are a prick”

That defeats the point of a choice of game doesn’t it? You can choose to be evil, but not really, you must really be good all along. If that’s the case, then the story shouldn’t include the choices to begin with, they’d just be hollow.

I prefer options that come across as more morally gray myself, as you mentioned I’m pretty sure nobody wants to be evil just because they can without any real reason, but a lot of stuff does just that. The evil options are often a little over the top. Done well though the MC in a story could be as evil as they liked, but the writing would have to back that up, and as long as there is or will be consequences of the players actions so it’s not just a power fantasy.

I haven’t read Rent A Vice, so can’t comment on the actual wording, so I’ll just have to take your word for it haha. But In my opinion though a game should never do this, make decisions on behalf of the reader I mean, the story should allow you to choose the options but make no comment on it from a fourth wall perspective or from the point of view of the MC, the MC may do something awful but that should be up to the reader how they feel about it, maybe give the player the option directly if choosing how they feel about said option.

@Snowflower
Me again, hoping my post is better than my last, and sorry, supposed to be replying to your question :sweat_smile: I’d say allow the character in the story to be as awful as you are comfortable with writing so long as there is justification for their actions, as I mentioned earlier in the post evil for the sake of it doesn’t really go down well. Also consequences are a must, or the choices are hollow, but don’t let the player know what they are doing is wrong, unless that warning fits within the narrative, from another character for example. The player should really be able to judge for themselves that what they are doing is wrong, or very well could be.

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One would be the logical consequences of the player’s actions, while the other would be authorial moralizing.

If no such distinction was made in @Snowflower’s original post, then it’s my fault for seeing one that didn’t exist, and my apologies for that. But the wording of these

seemed to suggest that there was such a distinction, or at least ties morality to suffering consequences. (Things being repugnant to our standards doesn’t mean they are repugnant to standards in-game, so why should a character receive punishment for a moral system that doesn’t exist for them?)

Of course, it could very well be just the “can’t see the forest for the trees” mode that my autistic brain often defaults to. Mea culpa, in that case.

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I came here expecting “bad” as in “how dumb would you allow the players to be”, about silly and stupid choices, and generally how deep are you going to let the player spiral into ridiculousness.

I guess my expectation was… too bad.

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