I had an interesting conversation with my GM last week. We somehow got onto the topic of how evil he was as a gamemaster. Honestly I don’t see him as evil, but I ran with it for the sake of ignoring some other things I really didn’t want to work on. :)

yinyangBetween the alignments of Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, or Chaotic Evil, we decided that he was a Neutral Evil GM with some Chaotic tendencies.

A Lawful Evil GM is a rules lawyer and typically more interested in enforcing the letter of the law as spelled out in whatever game he is entranced with at the time. Mike definitely doesn’t fall into this category. I don’t think I even fell into this category when I was GMing either – I’m far more likely to either make a ruling and go with it on the spot or stop the game to get into a philosophical debate about why it was phrased the way it was. (Occupational hazard when you’re the one who wrote the game.)

A Neutral Evil GM is more interested in game balance than the rules persay. Mike tries to be very balanced and err on the side of roleplaying and story more than focusing on either making sure the PCs get their butts handed to them regularly. I’d like to think I fall into this category myself, but I know better.

And then there’s the Chaotic Evil GM. These are the guys who sometimes roll dice for no reason but to increase his players’ blood pressure. (Mike’s been guilty of doing this from time to time.) These are the GMs who decide one session they want to really teach the PCs a lesson and beat up on them and then in the next session be really nice to make up for it… And then there’s my type of chaos, where I end up GMing a sandbox game and watching the fireworks.

Each of these types of GMs should be observed in their natural habitat and not removed through the use of force, or that might backfire.

Why Evil you might ask? Honestly good and evil are in the eyes of the players most of the time, not in the eyes of the GM. So the night that your GM springs an encounter with an invisible flying creature in a cave and nearly kills all the PCs (one actually did die in that case and was raised later), he might be evil. The night he just happens to leave a magical crystal sword in a pile of loot just so your character can use it, he might be good.

Just don’t anger your GM without good reason. Then you’ll see True Evil raise its ugly head. ;)

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This article has 9 comments

  1. forged Reply

    I think in our hearts, most GMs start out to run a fair and balanced campaign. Some do that following the rules more closely than others because it is the common element for the game.

    Due to the nature of the fact that you are trying to tell an awesome story with your players, the players’ characters have to overcome conflict to truly tell stories worth remembering.

    After all, when was the last time you read a story where there was no conflict in it?

    Conflict and devices used by the GM to heighten the emotion of the moment (of which random dice rolling can be sometimes be effective) can come off as evil … but that usually isn’t the goal.

    Granted I’m the same guy who had the bright idea of trying to corrupt a player character from good actions. I also starting a different campaign by having the players wake up to find that everyone else in the inn died during the night. (Which some day I’ll get around to posting about. I promise.)

    Come to think of it those are only some of my most recent ideas to cause trouble. :D

    • Fitz

      @forged – You are absolutely right about conflict and other devices used to heighten the emotional connection of the players to the game. I’m always looking for that hook, that thing to connect me more to my characters and keep me in the moment and enjoy the journey. Some of it comes from the player and some comes from the GM. It’s a symbiotic relationship. :)

      Evil is as evil does, to paraphrase Mr. Gump. But I don’t think your GMing style is evil. Vindictive maybe at times… But not evil. :)

  2. yongkyosunim Reply

    I’m not an evil GM. I’m a real rules stickler though so I would say that I’m definitely Lawful. I don’t ban anything for the sake of “balance” or because like others, too lazy to run things like a lot of spells or high level campaigns.

    I don’t go for the kill and the players know their risk/reward. For example, they know that the next adventure they are going on is a very tough one, but they chose it. I don’t consider TPKs fun to run unless the players do it to themselves or there is a run of bad luck on the dice.

    However, I don’t believe in “everyone gets a prize for trying” so there is a lot of challenge. Again with the other adventure if the players know that they are going to take on a really tough adventure, the reward is there, but they know the risk is a lot higher.

    So in the end, I would say I’m Lawful Neutral.

  3. Anarkeith Reply

    I had to chuckle as I read this, which is probably proof that I’m an evil GM. I think of myself as Neutral. But I know I’ve rolled the dice just to freak out the party, and I’ve thrown the occasional unwinnable encounter at them to see if they’d run away. They most often do, with lots of grumbling about unhittable enemies. C’mon, y’all! It’s not Disneyland. You don’t get a sign in front of each encounter saying, “You must be 5th level to participate in this fight.”

    Players are whiny and deserve what they get. Evil it is then. Heh.

    • Fitz

      @Anarkeith – Evil is in the eye of the beholder… Pick an eye… I always liked the Disintegrating Ray. ;)

  4. Wimwick Reply

    I’m a lawful evil DM, I enforce the rules or my rulings with an iron fist (they can be debated later). I also kill PCs when able, though I won’t go out of my way to do it. I think of it as providing more of a challenge. Overall a great look at alignment as it pertains to DMs. We ran a similiar article a while back that took more of a humours approach.

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