I’ve been spending more time than is healthy lately watching Magic: The Gathering let’s plays on YouTube. I’ve learned a couple of things from the experience. One is that Zenith Flare is straight up busted in Ikoria draft. But perhaps more germane to today’s discussion is this guy, General Kudro. Just look at him. I mean seriously, look at him! That walrusy fucker is just itching to throw his men’s lives away while shouting something maniacal about “the greater good.” I don’t think it’s an accident that there’s black mana in his casting cost. But more importantly, I don’t think that the color of death is necessary to make General Kudro a villain.

When I sat down to write out today’s blog post, I wanted to dig up a series of old articles about the colors of Magic and what they represent. It’s no coincidence that I found them copy-pasted onto somebody’s Obsidian Portal site. The colors of magic symbolize extreme archetypal forces, and that’s useful stuff when you’re a GM looking to whip up a villain. Imagining manipulative or destructive antagonists is easy. But in terms of today’s comic, with the forces of Good lined up to ROFL-stomp a hapless opponent in ‘honorable’ combat, the big takeaway line is this:

At their best, white mages are self-sacrificing and moral. At their worst, they are uncreative and even authoritarian.

Just think about all those stories of treacherous angels and well-meaning servants of tyranny. Think of Neil Gaiman’s sympathetic Lucifer (a black mana character if ever there was one) struggling against an unjust (white mana) cosmos. If you construct your story carefully, it’s possible to set up the white hats as the bad guys and the black hats as the good guys. And if you can reconcile yourself with that, then you suddenly gain access to a wider range of stories.

So for today’s discussion, why don’t we trade tales of nefarious do-gooders? What monomaniacal paladins and overzealous witch hunters have graced your games? Sound off with your tale of do-gooding done badly down in the comments!


EARN BONUS LOOT! Check out the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a bimonthly NSFW Handbook of Erotic Fantasy comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!