One of my buddies in a recently-resurrected Firefly game runs a doctor. He’s called simply The Doctor, and is nothing like That DoctorThis is the sort of character that, with a deadpan expression and nothing behind the eyes, will launch into a dissertation on “sustainable skin farming.” Then, when he notices the room full of horrified expressions, he’ll stare back like, “Oh goodness,  have I said something untoward? How thoughtless of me!” He is an unsettling dude, and a fan-favorite among the group.

Same deal with the garbage pail alchemist that pals around with my megadungeon party. Being an absurd semi-mummy with moth wings and a predilection for drinking his own spue has endeared him to the party like you wouldn’t believe. There’s something oddly compelling about the creepy-but-lovable archetype, and our girl Necromancer is draped elegantly all over that trope. If you think about it though, that makes a certain amount of sense. When you’re an inherently creepy kind of PC, you want to find a way to make others like you.

Take my own necromancer PC. I knew I would spend the campaign with at least one undead minion stinking up the vicinity, so my first act was to name my starter zombie. When I picked up animate dead and added a horrible skeleton demon to the party roster, I immediately asked the others to help christen the monstrosity (we settled on Becky). My thought is that, whether it’s puppies or zombies, it’s a lot harder to turn a critter away when it’s got a name.

There’s a tactical advantage in all this as well. As Neil Gaiman says in Neverwhere, “You must never imagine, that just because something is funny, it is not also dangerous.” They don’t call it a “disarming personality” for nothing! Playing the creepy goofball is a great way to get close to your enemies. If you happen to be a creature of pure malevolence and evil intent, getting your prey to drop its guard is just good policy. 

So what do you think? Have any of you guys ever used a goofy exterior to mask your true maleficence? How’d it work out for you? Let’s hear it in the comments!