Roles and Reasons

AkaryuterraAkaryuterra Member Posts: 63 ✭✭✭
edited August 2016 in Harpy's Head Tavern
So, I've played Aetolia for a while, as some of forum goers and veteran players might know.

I've mostly played the grey area as a sometimes ethically questionable research obsessed cabalist. Never played a REAL villainous sort, but I've contemplated it and thought it might be fun.

Lately, it seems like there haven't been a lot of player villains of note in Aetolia. Admittedly, this could be partly a matter of social circles, and me just not being aware of said villains - maybe they're lurking properly in shadows or such.

On that subject, a couple questions come to mind, which might be helpful to other new players, or players looking to try on a role.

1) If you have played both a villain and a hero (in the sense of playing 'good' and 'bad' aligned characters) which did you enjoy more, and why? If it is hard to tell which was more enjoyable to play, maybe list a couple pros and cons to each role?

2) What kind of villain or hero do you like most? Scheming or principled, physically strong or mentally overpowering, direct or subtle, morally rigid or flexible within a set of limits? Got any examples from movies, comics, or first hand RP?

3) With the 2nd question in mind, which provides you the greatest challenge as a player when portraying a character? Any particular reason?

I might expand on this with a few more questions later, but I think the responses here might provide valuable insight for new players trying to find a role to play, and offer some guidance on motive.

Then again, maybe I'm overthinking this and looking for too much depth. The questions are more of a 'guide' to inspire responses, feel free to waffle about on any other aspects of character portrayal that make things engaging.

(Additionally, if there is a discussion somewhere already that covers this topic, sorry for the duplicate, point me to it and I'll go read some of that.)


  • ZsadistZsadist Member Posts: 815 ✭✭✭✭
    I've played both sides of the coin.

    When it comes to the 'hero' side, it was very taxing on me. You're always watching what you do/say because you want to be the good guy in every scenario. Not only that, but the optimism and amount of roleplay I did really burned me out. That said, it was somewhat fun to play the hero, because so many people looked up to me.... not just to get stuff done, but to do things right and for the city/citizens.

    When it came to the 'villian' side, it was so much easier to play. I'm an unicorns by nature, so being an unicorns in the game was really easy. Being the guy who would kill someone for almost nothing was rather fun, up until a group of people got together to kill me. And even then, that was fun. The downside to being the villian, was that it became really difficult to change sides if I ever wanted to, let alone pick up new classes.
    (Oasis): Benedicto says, "There was like 0.5 seconds between "Oh hey, they're in area. That was quick." and "OMFG THEY'RE IN THE AREA STAHP STAHP!""

  • AkaryuterraAkaryuterra Member Posts: 63 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Thanks @Jensen, I've thought about that on several occasions, and it has been some of the reason I've occasionally dabbled in PvP (very occasionally).

    I have never made it far in practice, and as such I've thought that playing the role of a villain might be hampered to a degree by being a noncombatant. It's not very scary for your opponent when they know you're making what amount to empty threats. Likewise, it can be hard to play a more cerebral foe without a player to rise to the challenge of being your foil.
  • JensenJensen Corruption's Butcher Member Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭
    There are a slew of combatants who would join up behind RP (they may not participate in that part actively) and a solid plan.  If you provide the reason and the event, they would turn up
  • JensenJensen Corruption's Butcher Member Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Last minute shout out, I took inspiration from Christopher Walkens character in seven psychopaths
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    I've also done both, and someone in between and I agree 100% that it is a lot more challenging to play the good guy. You've got a game that's stacked against you, because of course it is, Midnight Age says it all, you know? It can be hard to deal with situations and always take the moral high road, but I find it much easier to -behave- that way because I try to be as nice as I can IRL.

    That said? There is something downright therapeutic about playing even a morally grey character, let alone a 'bad guy'. When Rasani becomes a lot for me to handle, be it stress or just exhausting, it's really freeing to have a character I can hop onto and just not give a single unicorns about what I'm going to say or do. If someone's being an unicorns, it feels nice to not have to try and take the high road because, even if that's how I try to behave it's taxing!

    I myself think I enjoy Rasani more than my others, but that may be a mix of it being more natural to me and just the amount of time I've poured into her. I enjoy her because she's, well, caring. She's seen a lot of unicorns and really still tries to do and believe in good. Will it last? Who knows, but that's part of the fun. Part of the fun is facing all kinds of unicorns and still trying to be the kind of person people need.
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Vaskar said:

    Rasani said:

    I've also done both, and someone in between and I agree 100% that it is a lot more challenging to play the good guy. You've got a game that's stacked against you, because of course it is, Midnight Age says it all, you know?

    Hahahaha. No way.

    Villainy is almost always harder in games like this because the good guys always have it easy. You're a good guy so you take the good guy option, and it pays off for you in the end because that's how the event has to end if the game is going to continue. Yeah, sure, maybe it seems rough but everybody knows how things are going to go down.

    Being a villain in these games is always harder because you almost always get handed the short end of the stick. You're handed the most cliche stereotypical evil goal and you're expected to run with it until its inevitable failure. You're never going to get ultimate power, the world is never going to end, they're always going to betray you, and you're never going to destroy the good guys. But you're expected to pick up that crappy storyline and run with it during every single event. You are going to ally with the slavers, burn down the orphanage, and you're going to side with the guy trying to bring about the apocalypse, despite knowing damn well that it will fail, you will be betrayed, and that the good guys will squeeze out the win at the last minute.

    And you will do all that again and again and again, because without you there is no event. You're basically Skeletor jobbing for He-Man every week because there's no cartoon if you back out of it.
    Perhaps I should explain a bit better. I don't mean in a sense like "OH MAN THE GAME HATES THE GOOD GUYS" I mean in the sense that there is clearly lore built up and ever expanding that puts the 'heroes' in an awkward position. A position I've never felt when playing my alts. You're free to be a lot less -concerned- about the unicorns that lore is building up. In a city that's all "light light light" you've got to give a unicorns when the light turns out to be less than you thought it was, you chase after an age that's never coming.

    However, on the other side, you don't -have to care-, at least not what from I've experienced and seen. You don't have to care that Gods from another plane are calling your gods tyrants because who gives a unicorns? Don't get me wrong, it's clearly harder to reconcile with the plots we're given from the bad perspective, it's very "this good thing or this terrible, reprehensible thing" and that's difficult to reconcile, but in the terms of -lore- it's clearly leading to a place where the harder hit is going to be taken by the 'heroes', if only because of the light imposed morality.
    That's just my reading on the direction the lore is taking, anyway. I could be entirely incorrect.
  • VaskarVaskar Member Posts: 57 ✭✭✭
    What? No way.

    The heroic position isn't awkward at all. There's bad unicorns going down and you're opposed to it and you're gonna fight it and stop it. There is nothing awkward about that.

    Where it gets awkward is when you're the nominal villain who learns that that your part in this event is going to be siding with the Chaotic Evil Slavers who are clearly going to betray you as soon as it is convenient and you have to come up with some way to justify such an obviously terrible decision.

    The light has it easy. If the darkside wants to do something, you don't let them do it because it's probably evil. You can pretty much take that to the bank. The darkies, on the other hand, are in a position where they're sitting around going "Okay. This evil mage, Traitor McTreachery, aka Betrayer the Untrue, aka Liar von Fierypants... he has a plot to destroy all civilization and bring about the end of the world. And we've got to help him with it. How are we going to justify this one?"
  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 207 ✭✭✭
    Again, I'm talking about a very specific part of the lore being built right now. Every event has it's own challenges and, as I said, I feel you guys have the harder part of reconciling your involvement in events when, as you said, you've got "evil dink 1, 2 and 3' to choose from, I'm just saying I feel that this -very specific- piece of the lore is building up to a point where it's going to -become- awkward for the lifer side. That's all.
  • XandrenXandren Member Posts: 200 ✭✭✭
    I have played both a shadow character, and a spirit aligned character. I use this terminology because I don't think many of my roles fit distinctly into "hero" and "villain" categories, and the closest one I can think of off the top of my head proved to be my favorite character. He was a Carnifex knight under Moirean's reign, and damn did I enjoy playing him. He was fun, and he was...uncaring. He performed the duties he considered worth his time, and he held to the Carnifex rigidity pretty darn well, considering the fact that he actually thought it was shameful to hit-and-run a mob to death. But I'd say instead of using Hero and Villain Categories, I'll use the "Monster" and the "Citizen" categories, because that's mostly the roles I play.

    Xandren is a Citizen, his personal experience isn't to jump forth like a hero, and he damn sure doesn't fall into the "lawful good" category you'd see MOST (key word here) heros fall into. He'd be Neutral Good at best, and Chaotic Neutral at worst. He is good as he takes care of himself, he takes care of those he cares about, and he steps onto the battlefield not because its "the right thing to do", but because he finds it holds merit and his attention. He fishes because he finds it relaxing and enjoyable, and a good revenue source. He plays fetch with his minipet air beast, and he makes crossbow designs that often get scrapped before he even gets them prepared enough to requisition a crossbow design to apply them to. These are all things someone who is a neutral focused character really does, because he does what he wants to enjoy himself, and a lot of it involves being out in the sun.

    Lykorn was my Monster. He was the one I played for almost all of my highschool career. He was a true monster. He enjoyed his Carnifex abilities, and I could say that my experience with him was all cathartic at best. I often had RP in crowded rooms involving training my Mastiff from the Siroccian mountains, because he had named her "Scorn", because he died several times beating her into submission, and he "reminded" her of her place every time he decided to train her. He pushed her harder and into the dirt more than any of his other dogs, because he had earned his scorn, and her name in his eyes. He also kept a trophy case of splintered-off soulstones that contained singular souls, with fragments of souls he has captured stored within each stone, enough soul to see the owner's face screaming across the surface. His actions were never really self-motivated, but they never were "for greater evil.". He was Chaotic Evil at worst, and Chaotic Neutral at best. The key for him was the chaotic part, because unless it was a Carnifex officer demanding his attention, he was more than comfortable telling anyone else to screw off.

    and there's my personal view on your question number 1. I find both enjoyable for different reasons, and would say that they each served a unique reason for me. Whether they are just literally someone who lives day to day because he wants to enjoy his life (Xandren), or as someone who is helping me exorcise my inner demons by being the monster those demons want me to be.

    2. You can read the entire thing above to get a feel for either character in my two categories I've fitted to my characters.

    3. and nowadays? I'd say it'd have to be being a true monster, as I don't feel like there are as many mechanically-initiated RP avenues to actually BE a monster. I used to rely on hound training back when we would beat our dogs into submission and then we'd train them, because it was an overly violent thing, nowadays, dog training isn't a thing anymore to my knowledge, and if it is, then it's a rare thing to see anymore. The aggression is more likely to need to focus into pvp, and I just am not good at that. I imagine my next character would likely be like my character from MKO though, who was a crazed berseker with two personalities in his head, and the one in control wasn't the smart, logical one.
    The rushing sound of waves breaking upon a shore fills your mind as Slyphe imparts to you, "Meltas is a bit..special sometimes..."
  • IrruelIrruel Member Posts: 670 ✭✭✭✭
    Vaskar said:

    "Okay. This evil mage, Traitor McTreachery, aka Betrayer the Untrue, aka Liar von Fierypants... he has a plot to destroy all civilization and bring about the end of the world. And we've got to help him with it. How are we going to justify this one?"

    See, if you've actually been in that scenario, it's either a poorly written/designed event, or...

    No one actually intended you to support it. Why do you HAVE to help them and come up with a justification? In my experience the event/RP teams in Aetolia have been really awesome, and in that scenario you just described, if a group of influential evil-doers had simply said:

    "No. Screw you, you backstabbing, insane little psychopath, DIE, and we'll steal your item/research of doom and do something different with it."
    (something not game-breaking, therefore possible to actually succeed at).

    They'd probably get their way.

    It's really only occasionally that events are truly linear. You might think that because it's the guild tutor, the order priestess, Abhorash - whoever - that it means your side has no choice but to follow along, but (and I say this from experience) the most fun events have been the ones with unpredictable twists and turns in them, with the poor event directors working triple time trying to keep up with the player's deviations.

  • IrruelIrruel Member Posts: 670 ✭✭✭✭
    As for evil vs good - I struggle to play an evil character for long periods when the flavour of evil is the stereotypical psychopath. A few months is okay, and after that it is draining.

    I've played a few 'hero' characters, and I slip into the role easily enough, but after the first one (Shallam/Pentharian in early Achaea) it's been boring each time since.

    I've had the most fun with characters that are a bit of a mix. Characters that are not obviously evil but do some evil things either due to a 'might is right', mentality, or some kind of zealotry. (Imperian's Antioch, at least in the early days, Ithaqua later on, and of course Haern's order here in Aetolia.)

    Does that mean I feel comfortable with evil-order but not chaotic-evil? Or just that I like being more neutral? Not sure.
  • JensenJensen Corruption's Butcher Member Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Difficulties for evil: ambiguous objectives, actions to provoke opponents can be viewed as griefing, your actions can be ignored, everyone has killed thousands of npcs so you don't stand out as a murderer, and everyone is immortal so undeath is lackluster.

    Difficulties for good: being morally good/ honorable/ taking the high road is exhausting, being zealous or standing by high conviction can be viewed as griefy (see Havens feud with Duiran), being on defense most of the time can get tiring (especially when you need a break), and you miss out on events/hunting spots/to angles due to your archetype. 

    Really the harder side is whichever you have a harder time playing, but does not mean that harder is more or less fun for the player.
  • ZailaZaila Pacific TimeMember Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭✭
    1) It just depends on what kind of a mood I'm in, really (do I feel like playing good or bad). I think that generally in most RP lands I've leaned toward more selfish/morally grey characters strictly because it leads to more opportunities to RP.

    2) I like realistic heroes and villains. AKA: ones with motivations that make sense for a person to have. Generally, people don't consider themselves evil. They don't do evil "for the glory of evilness". They have a reason for what they do. Even if the reason is "I'm sadistic and I get off on it". As long as that motivation is clear and played out believably, I like it. Similarly with Heroes.

    3) Probably being really staunchly good is the hardest for me to personally play for the primary reason that it ends up blocking off a lot of potential RP inlets. Additionally, since I don't have any interest in PvP, I can't play a brawny or savior-type character, so I really can't play a typical 'Hero' character anyway.
  • AkaryuterraAkaryuterra Member Posts: 63 ✭✭✭
    @Xandren : The "Citizen" and "Monster" distinction is just as good as the "hero" and "villain" one, it demonstrates the divide well enough to create the contrast I'm looking at, thanks for bringing up the alternative classifications.

    @Vaskar : I am going to look at some points you made here, partly because I feel like there is more to be considered, and the wording of the arguments made them seem contrary. If I'm misreading your tone or intent, let me know.

    I am going to point to what @tedrunai and @irruel said here, villains can succeed in Aetolia, and I have seen it on multiple occasions. A while back now (can't remember the year) there was an invasion that presented the inhabitants with a threat that could change Sapience for the foreseeable future. The Dreikathi invasion was such a big threat that the cities of Sapience DID work together to combat the invading forces.

    Regarding playing a lighter, sure you could be expected to thwart any foul plot or support the downtrodden for the greater good, and that might seem simple and straight forward, but it sounds like you've completely overlooked the aspect of how a character should react when they fail, because they certainly can in Aetolia. I think the Three Widows conflict would be an example of that potential for failure, as well as an example of a section of the playbase not simply being railroaded into the role of 'saturday morning cartoon villain'. Spinesreach is technically shadow tethered, but I think we contributed to the freedom of the dwarves, rather than going all-in on slavery, which you might expect from a villain stereotype. (if my recollection of the conflict resolution is wrong, someone feel free to correct me)

    I haven't been railroaded into supporting a world ending plot, though tentative allies in Bloodloch may have expected as much at one time or another, but I suppose that is largely a benefit of inhabiting the gray area, so there's a few grains of salt to go with that.

    @Zaila : I'm in agreement with you on what makes a more engaging villain or hero. I was trying to figure out how to word that for my initial post, and I came to 'merely human' or 'force of nature'. The prior would be characters with human motivations: power, protection of friends, crushing enemies, upholding an ideology, etc. The latter is something I consider a bit more difficult to portray, and that is the sort of character that embodies a concept.
    The quickest example I can point to here is the Joker, as he is presented as an embodiment of chaos in some renditions, and he is not specifically out for his own motivations, so much as he is out to force others to face the futility and their convictions or actions.

    As has come up several times in the comments already made, being essentially immortal can present its own challenges for being a villain, as deaths and murders lose impact, and a large portion of Aetolia is full of what amounts to nearly genocidal player characters when you take into consideration bashing and endgame.

    Short of mental scarring and trauma of a lasting nature, real consequences to actions are of a social nature, which is why, personally, I find the 'mere human' type of character to be the most engaging. Should I play a villain, it would likely end up being an intensely personal sort of villain I think, which might require me to toe comfort boundaries.

    That isn't to say I can't appreciate a force of nature, but I don't know that I have ever dealt with one in Aetolia
    It would require a bit of forethought to take a stab at too, so I'm not sure how much I would want to take one on.
  • ZailaZaila Pacific TimeMember Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭✭
    OH! Another point I had wanted to make but forgot by the time I got typing:

    In Aetolia, you don't need to be spirit-aligned to be a hero, or shadow-aligned to be a villain. You can play a hero within the bounds of shadow, or be a villain for spirit causes.

    It seems like some people are framing the roles as mutually exclusive to the 'sides' of the game, and I think that's a bad way to look at it.
  • JulesJules Member Posts: 55 ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    Vaskar, what they mean is that a really traditional "good" char can be fairly stifling in some ways. If you are "ethical and honorable" even to enemies, you then have to honor that.

    I think it is actually a poor choice over the long haul, in a conflict driven game for exactly that reason (see Shallam in Achaea) but that is what they mean. Rabid "Good" that is more like "white evil" works better.

    The points are both valid, but sort of totally different aspects of the thing.

    EDIT: and that actually seems to be one of the huge challenges of running a "Good" organization in particular. Historically, I think the games/orgs didn't want to infringe on each player's desire to choose their own role, and many, many players associate "Good" with outright pacifism in some cases, or at best, the "honorable warrior" who has a heck of a lot of limits on when and how he can actually get down and dirty in a fight. So you had all of these different versions of Good, plus the people who just wanted to be militant rabid Good rawr in a single org and it was a gd mess.
  • XeniaXenia Member Posts: 1,083 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Whenever I attempt to portray an archetype I will create a rule to be used as a baseline on all RP decisions. For heroes it's be the angel on the scene's shoulder because villains do whatever it takes to win. It's easier to play the hero because the hero doesn't always win; if at the end of the day you were true blue, you did your part. Villains, though, they have to be notable. To be notable one must prevail more often than not and have power over the environment. It's really hard to be that notable, and more often than not when you try you'll end up as @Vaskar put it, "Skeletor".

  • IshinIshin Retired Lurker VirginiaMember Posts: 1,765 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I really enjoy playing a villain, to be honest. Some of the Midkemians coming here might know me as Gorvai there. I've never minded the stigma that comes from playing a bad character, but sometimes it can be a little annoying to deal with the ooc drama that comes with it.

    I've found that playing a bad or evil or whatever character is much more...fulfilling. For example, you never know what twisted and unicorns up thing an evil person might do, but when it comes to good guys, they're fairly predictable.

    Tell me and I forget, teach me and
    I remember, involve me and I
    -Benjamin Franklin
  • TozToz Member Posts: 2,497 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Having tried to play villain recently, I burned out fast. I guess I don't have the temperament for it, but the sheer amount of awful things said about me when I hit a shrine (solo) or raided Enorian (solo, for a reason) was enough to turn me off entirely from dealing with that half of the game in any respect. Maybe I'm bitter, but it's hard not to be when people are telling everyone you 'teamed them' when you fought a 1v4 (and managed a kill), or raid solo/skirmish and then you start getting snippets of people insulting you over Frontline.

    Currently, or last I played, numbers were also stacked hard - you go show up with 4 to take a lesser/do something, you run into 10 lifers all running high damage classes. You can't balance numbers, so it's fine, but when paired with the previous experiences, I just don't feel like giving the 'good guys' someone to beat up on. And that's a strong part of the reason I'm no longer playing much at all, I genuinely do not enjoy playing against the good guys.

    Arbre-Today at 7:27 PM

    You're a vindictive lil unicorn

    Lartus-Today at 7:16 PM

    oh wait, toz is famous

    Karhast-Today at 7:01 PM

    You're a singularity of unicorns awfulness Toz
  • TozToz Member Posts: 2,497 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Draiman said:

    Uhhhhhhhhhhhh just going to chime in here just so we don't possibly derail this thread with another side split argument thing that could maybe possibly potentially spawn from Toz's post:

    That type of whining is present on -both- sides of the game. I hear darkies all the time say 'wish they'd bring fair numbers' and then will instantly drag every friend they have to squash a lesser being contested by 2 lifers, etc etc. Applicable in almost every mirrored situation. Who did what first and where and who's right/wrong is an argument that'll never be settled and doesn't belong in this thread.

    Please continue with the very civil and intelligent discussion I have enjoyed reading all day.

    Yeah you can't balance numbers and it's stupid to try. Org v org is probably better than side v side for that.

    I'm just not feeling any sort of incentive to show up to a roll and have some *shakefist* I'll get you next time my pretties RP with lifers after the way certain people (loudly, I guess?) treated me - I'd rather just give a miss on interacting with them at all. If I show up with 100 to their 2, at least I got some xp.

    Arbre-Today at 7:27 PM

    You're a vindictive lil unicorn

    Lartus-Today at 7:16 PM

    oh wait, toz is famous

    Karhast-Today at 7:01 PM

    You're a singularity of unicorns awfulness Toz
  • JulesJules Member Posts: 55 ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    I don't think it's stupid to try.

    If you have a couple of strong leaders and you sort of train your players to not ALL just show up to every fight, you can definitely get better matched teams (which would be partly, but certainly not entirely based on sheer numbers). If the other side is lame, and you have the peeps on standby, THEN you launch your nuclear strike.

    I have noticed that a lot of times, people just show up after the first spate of deathsights - even when their side was already whomping. There is little to no "let's see if I'm actually needed right now", and the corollary to that "let's try to make sure everyone gets a shot at being on the team from time to time" (which becomes a consideration when you're not just bringing EVERYONE every time).

    I think part of the problem is that several orgs have quotas for lessers, and various rewards associated, which incentivizes box ticking (double-edged sword, very possibly, has pros and cons).

    Another edit: and you don't do it because you're such a wonderful guy, you do it because that's the best way to (if you're lucky) get multiple rounds of decent fights.
  • JensenJensen Corruption's Butcher Member Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭
    really hope this doesn't spiral into a talk about match disparity at foci
  • JulesJules Member Posts: 55 ✭✭
    Yeah, there is pretty much never any point to yelling back and forth on forums that the other side is bringing too much firepower. You can really only try to build in some sanity checks (hey, what does the other side actually have right now? Are they getting their asses kicked?) on your own side (with the selfish goal of getting more great fights).
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