When Is Someone Evil?

In the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons there is an alignment chart to help you decide what your character cares about and what they will do to chase what they care about. Good versus Evil, Lawful versus Chaotic. Being on the “evil” end of the scale doesn’t mean you have to be a murderous, maniacal psychopath. You can play characters that are “evil” because they don’t follow the law, or because they are willing to do terrible things if the reasons are right. “Good guys” can murder and steal and pillage and “bad guys” can save the town from something far worse than they are.

So where is the line in the sand of what is evil?

Just like in real life, that line gets muddied. Sometimes the ends justifies the means, sometimes they don’t. It was once considered good to sell people to other people. The word retard use to be only a medical or technical term, neither good or bad. No one is born being Hitler. Even Hitler wasn’t born Hitler. He started out wanting to be an artist.

Villains in games and other entertainments are never as clear cut as being evil to the core. That’s how you get mustache-twirling caricatures instead of characters. If any of you are writing villains, ask yourself what are they gaining by doing “evil” to others? Everyone wants something, and it is the rare and broken person who only wants to inflict pain and suffering.

Everyone is the hero of their own story. Most people wouldn’t recognize they’re evil even if a band of heroes showed up to stop them from continuing their evil deeds. Without some objective guidelines on what is good and what is not, the road to being evil is a slippery slope.

Check your thoughts and actions. Without a party of adventurers to stop us we need to stop ourselves first, which unfortunately is much harder.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas