There they are in all their full-color glory, folks! The Evil Party have set out to perpetrate unspeakable acts of nefariousness, and first on their list is ruining Paladin’s night out.

This one comes courtesy of our latest Patreon poll, which asked readers to choose the Evil Party’s first evil mission. Choices were “Usurping the Throne” and “Talking at the Movie Theater.” I think it’s clear which one won. It was a landslide too, coming away with a full 70% of the vote. I have some theories on why that might be.

Running an evil game can sometimes be mistaken for running a grimdark game. You’ve got your tortured antiheroes and your black-leather-loving sociopaths. They serve dark masters and do dark deeds, and all of them are eager to throw out gritty one-liners about the futility of do-gooding: Only the strong deserve life! Your god cannot save you! I wasn’t hugged enough as a child! I don’t want to dog on the style too much, because those kinds of games can be rewarding in the right kind of group. There is another kind of evil though, and to my mind it has a major advantage over its grimdark rival. Cartoon villainy is straight up fun. 

Back when we introduced Antipaladin we talked about sneering caricatures and kicked puppies. Today I’d like to defend those things, because I happen to think they’re funny. Just look at Darth Vader. Everyone remembers the badass theme music and the intimidating presence, but torturing Han was never my favorite Vader scene. This was. Those hapless imperials choking and mugging in the background are hilarious. We get the same effect with the “choke on your aspirations” line from Rogue One. The dude is scary, but he’s clearly enjoying his work. I think that’s instructive when it comes to evil PCs.

There’s obviously a vast continuum between Darth Vader and Dark Helmet. Choking vice admirals is a bit different than talking at the movies, which probably won’t be an actual plot outside of Toon. I’m not saying you should embrace cartoon villainy if you want to be a black-hearted bastard, but I would ask all you evil characters out there to pause to consider the merits of comic relief. If Joker, Jack Torrance, Freddy Krueger, and The Punisher can get away with a few laughs, chances are that you can too. You may even find yourself twirling your mustaches and laughing maniacally, and that mess is a time-honored tradition.

Question of the day then. Have you ever enjoyed a less-than-serious evil game? What about the flip side of the screen, with comic villains taking on the standard bunch of goody two-shoes PCs? Did the tone shift work, or did you find yourself pining for more serious forms of villainy? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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