The RPG Scrollbars: memories of evil and wickedness

So, a confession. My plan for this week was to talk about Obsidian’s Tyranny [official site] – the game, not any rumours of Feargus Urquhart openly stealing puddings from the company fridge no matter how well labelled! Unfortunately, that plan hit a tiny snag… I haven’t had a chance to play much of it yet. A shame, simply because the genre is well overdue a game that, to quote, Kakos Industries, Does Evil Better.

This week then, a tribute to and call out for the games that at least did evil interesting.

Ultima VII: Baking Horror

Honestly, the whole of this game is a psychopath’s toybox. Exploding barrels, endless magic spells, poor jail construction and of course the Armageddon spell equal good times had by all. However, the most infamous act of evil – unless a shared hallucination, since it doesn’t work in the Exult engine that everyone uses to play this game now – involves a certain bucket of blood found at a grisly murder scene at the start of the game. That blood comes straight from the arteries of the town blacksmith, whose son Sparks joins the party for both comfort and revenge-seeking.

Where’s the evil? Here’s the evil. Ultima VII lets you make your own bread and isn’t too fussy about what liquid you use. Cue the Avatar of the Eight Virtues, paragon of righteousness, hero of the realm, part time Space Ace and future Titan of Ether… feeding a kid bread baked with his own father’s blood.

Tsk. Whatever happened to the noble hero who both saved the day and spent ages juggling the party after meeting up with a prostitute so that Sherry the Mouse could finally get laid?

Vampire: Bloodlines: Heather Poe

Vampire: Bloodlines generally does evil very well. You may not have a huge complicated scheme going, but you’ve only just been Embraced, and everyone around you has at least five to be getting on with. Typical quests involve hiding knowledge of the supernatural world from the mundanes, handling monsters less for ethical reasons as convenient ones, and of course, getting your own ghoul, Heather.

Generally, Heather gets brought up to talk about the dark relationship between the two of you – how trying to push her away is deliberately difficult, and it doesn’t take long to realise she won’t have a happy ending whatever you do. But, if you prefer, you can go the complete opposite way too, ordering her into slutty outfits and praising acts like kidnapping a guy for your dinner instead of being the most easily shocked vampire this side of NosferatOOOH!

Fallout 3: Megaton

A modern classic, I think, if one that the rest of the game struggles to live up to. It’s not simply that you’re asked to destroy an entire town. It’s the fact that you’re asked to destroy an entire town because it gets in the way of an old rich man’s view.

Other great Fallout 3 examples include sabotaging a woman called Moira’s dreams of creating the ultimate wasteland survival guide by completely bullshitting everything she asks you to research, with the possibility after that of doing the nuke and leaving her a radioactive ghoul – an eternity of broken dreams in the wreckage.

Knights Of The Old Republic: Mission: Kill Mission

Mission Vao is a young Twi’lek girl recruited early in the game, along with her Wookie companion Zaalbaar. Not too shockingly, he owes her a Wookie life-debt. But here’s the thing. You can press him into your service in much the sane way, and then order him to murder his former ward. True, it requires a little Force Persuasion to get him over his moral problems and persuade him that the life debt is more important than silly little feelings… and later, he regrets it and betrays the party… but hey. The Dark Side doesn’t need quitters.

Undertale: Killing Papyrus

…you dick. An act second only to making the aquatic warrior Undyne chase you into the lava and fire of Hotland until she collapses, then going to get her a cup of water from a handy nearby water dispenser, and pouring it out on the ground in front of her face.

The downside of all of these of course is that aside from personal amusement, none of them exactly benefit your character long-term. That’s obviously the draw for Tyranny – that while you might be a bad guy for the sake of order or a bad guy for, well, the sake of it, you’re in a situation where bad guys rule. It’s an ongoing challenge for the genre to find stories where, say, a Neutral Evil mage can be as free to express themselves as the more typical Chaotic Good fighter, without just coming across as a crazed psychopath or the Joker without the sense of humour.

Personally, I’d prefer we just not think in those terms. It’s what leads to the other kind of necessary evil path – the path that’s deemed necessary, just to give the player choices. But it makes no sense for many games. The Witcher 3 for instance is no worse for the fact that there’s some stuff Geralt simply won’t do.

I far prefer Mass Effect’s approach to morality – where Shepard is always a hero, but one who favours diplomacy or fists – to BioWare’s early karma systems in Knights of the Old Republic, where falling to the dark side was mostly about coveting the cool powers and black underpants rather than a philosophical matter, or the attempt at something more subtle in Jade Empire’s open-palm and closed-fist system, which was an interesting attempt at providing moral equivalence until you realised that the designers kept forgetting.

Quite a few designers currently favour a similar but slightly different spin on things, with the idea that for every decision, it’s good to have the safe path, the refusal path, and the wackier path, catering to that desire to be a bit odd or deal with an obnoxious character in a fun way, without going all the way evil. It’s probably a better model for most RPGs too, being a good middle ground between the goodie-goodie traditional party and the classic “So You Recruited An Axe Murderer”.

That being said, I think we can all agree that there’s no better playground than the neutral worlds of somewhere like Britannia or Skyrim or Divinity: Original Sin, where it’s not the designer’s idea of how to have fun on the dark side of the alignment chart that allows for psychopathic good-times, but your own ability to break the system as well as breaking faces. The discovery that you can put a pot on someone’s head to prevent them seeing, then walk off with all their stuff, beats any official design option to try and take over the world instead of saving it. Sure, you might spend a little time in jail now and then, but I hear even Arkham can be quite relaxing for its inmates.

And so, to finish off – what are your favourite evil acts committed in games, from the scripted ones above to anything crazy you might have set up for yourself. A long line of exploding barrels for Chuckles the Jester for instance, or – and please pardon the link to The Other Place – cutting loose with the power of the God of Madness or the great rat plague. Mods are acceptable! It might be cheating, but if evil can’t cheat, who can?


  1. Zekiel says:

    The second time I played Baldur’s Gate I played a Chaotic Evil character who was basically psychotic. She murdered Jaheria, gleefully killed Dynaheir on Edwin’s instruction and inflicted Imoen with feeblemind before abandoning her, along with killing various innocent townspeople. I ended up getting hunted by bounty hunters and Flaming Fist guards wherever I went.

    Baldur’s Gate 2 had some great opportunities for evilness as well, like being mean to Aerie about her wings, deliberately giving Anomen bad advice so he failed his knighthood test, blackmailing a noblewoman, putting down the slave rebellion in the Copper Coronet…

    None of that is as bad as persuading Zaalbar to kill Mission though!

    These days I don’t have the stomach for killing innocents though and I much prefer the Mass Effect idealist/pragmatist divide to the moustache-twirling-evil thing.

    Very interested by Tyranny though.

  2. Masked Dave says:

    I remember in Skyrim the quest for one of the evil gods where it ends up with you becoming a cannibal as the final task to prove you are really evil.

    Except I was playing as a lizard dude and it was only humans on the menu. Tasty mammals.

    Of course, the game neglected to notice this or change it’s dialogue in any way.

  3. malkav11 says:

    I don’t think we can agree that at all. Part of the fun of being evil in games is for the game to notice and react to that evil, so stuff like feeding a kid bread that’s systemically no different than any other bread is ultimately unsatisfying.

  4. acoff001 says:

    The “Beyond the Beef” quest in Fallout New Vegas has some really twisted options, particularly if you are a cannibal. And the murder mystery assassination quest in Oblivion where you are the killer is pretty great.

  5. Premium User Badge

    james.hancox says:

    Ultima VII

    Time to reset the clock again!

  6. blainemono says:

    My main problem with how Heather was handled it VtM is that there is no option to make a proper familiar out of her. You can try and push her away, or you can encourage her ridiculous goth wannabe posturing but no way of giving her direct instructions to be useful, or at least not to attract any extra attention to yourself.

    As for Tyranny, granted, I’m only three hours in, but so far it seems to me not like a game about evil but a game about woeful incompetence of the regular military. Maan, if I was the Overlord, after the war is over I would edict the shit out of those people, disfavored and scarlet chorus alike.

    • GDwarf says:

      That’s what the game opens with. The overlord giving his armies one last chance to stop their petty infighting before the overlord just destroy everything they just spent 4+ years capturing.

      I’ve finally devised a character background and personality that I both like and which fits with the choices given to you in the conquest setup, so I’m starting to dig into the game, and what I quite like is that it’s very much not about evil for evil’s sake. It’s evil for its practicality. The overlord is so much more powerful than everyone else that they have no need to treat them like people, for good or ill. If you aren’t in their way then they’ll ignore you, if you are they’ll crush you. It’s that simple.

      • Rizlar says:

        Yeah I’m enjoying Tyranny. The banality of evil is there. Talking to someone in the court of Tunon, explaining to them that the law is not what they think is fair, it’s what Kyros dictates.

      • Conradamber says:

        Even better to me is how the feel of “nobody thinks of themselves as evil” works in Tyranny. My character acts from the conviction that the rule of Kyros is actually the greater good for the people. As a fatebinder I do bring them justice and if they would just accept Kyros and his laws, all will be well. works surprisingly good. No cartoonish right or wrong but meaningfull choice. Horrible things, sure, but all for the greater good. I love Tyranny. :-)

  7. Rizlar says:

    Glad Mass Effect was mentioned, it may not be the greatest but it’s the one that’s stuck with me, the moment I realised that playing evil is so much more fun. Having played through the game before as a decent chap I played ME2 again as renegade ladyshep, at one point you kick a guy through the window of a semi-constructed skyscraper mid-sentence. Then quip. Amazing.

    • theblazeuk says:

      I think of Paragon/Renegade as mostly being Patience vs No-Time-For-Your-Shit, rather than good vs evil.

    • Nauallis says:

      Yeah, this. Bioware’s done it pretty well, although the “Evil” or “Renegade” is more about convenience and deal with the consequences / who cares. KotOR 2 and the Mass Effect trilogy enabled being a dick by allowing you to streamline gameplay with it. And it was hilarious/glorious. As you say, don’t want to hear what that NPC is saying, but you don’t want to skip the dialogue? Kick him through a window. Don’t want to put up with whiny shit from the boss you just defeated? Execute them. Consequences? I guess we’ll just find out.

      Same goes with your party members, allowing in some cases you to kill them if they disagree with your actions. This was especially satisfying with Alistair in Dragon Age: Origins.

      I swear I’m not a sociopath.

  8. Haplo says:

    Crusader Kings 2, Old Gods scenario. Duke of Anjou and Chancellor to the King of France. The King of France has, for an heir, a boy of about four years old. I want the throne of France because let’s face it, I can do a better job.

    In this scenario, the southern half of modern France is an independent realm (Aquitaine), but the French king wants it a lot. Even better the Aquitainean realm fragments to an extent early on and the French king goes to down, attacking weak isolated parts of it. The French king isn’t hugely popular to begin with it seems, and furthermore the king levying the troops has pushed a few juuust over the line where they’re willing to support a conspiracy to bump him off (some need a bribe).

    The conspiracy gets together. The poor ol’ King has a terrible accident, and then his son inherits- with me as regent. At this point, the King of Aquitaine manages to reform most of his kingdom and declares war to get back the parts of it that were lost to France. Unfortunately the king of Aquitaine has help in the form of Lotharingia. Our dear boy King loses the war, but not before expending most of his levies+reserves, which will regenerate but not for awhile.

    During all of this I’ve been fighting with a few neighbours- IIRC, Brittany to my west starts off as a pagan region, and I’ve taken it out. I have a fairly sizeable realm and a good deal of money and men- right now a lot, lot more than the boy king.

    I put together a demand that the boy king step aside and I be made King. The boy king has zero chance of winning -that- fight due to his weak armies- and so he agrees. I become King of France and the boy king is relegated to a small county by himself.

    He lives there quietly until the age of 10 or so, when he developed a combo of traits that I just don’t like. So I remove him- just to be safe.

    • Dunbine says:

      I’ve done things in CK2 that were so shameful and depraved (ie, imprisoning and murdering his whole family, due to some messed up succession lines), I actually had my character commit suicide afterward (which he could do because he had the “depressed” trait).

      • Lacessit says:

        This game man. This game. I myself once murdered 2 Norwegian children after I’d murdered their father to keep my push for the throne going. I got remorseful when I was about the whack the third kid. Just couldn’t do it anymore. She subjugated me as a 12 year old.

        I rebelled when she was in her twenties and off fighting some distant war with all her troops though. Never killed her. She was a testament to all what my character was capable of, and he/I wanted to be reminded of that.

  9. Jekadu says:

    Tyranny is really great at how it deals with evil. You’re the arbitrator of a conflict where every party is terrible, so nobody is shocked when you are terrible in turn.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I think it works best because you are not the one making the rules, merely the one enforcing either the Overlord’s laws and edicts or choosing between the policies of the Disfavoured or the Chorus. There is no option to kill the bad guy and save the kids. I have a much harder time playing the bad guy when it’s clearly my own whim and in so many games the ‘evil’ option is to be a total dick.

  10. Tom89 says:

    No Black and White? Always love that the Good/Evil dynamic was complicated by the fact that Evil wasn’t just about screwing up tasks, but screwing them up creatively.

    Sure you can just kill the atheist to prove your might. But a better solution is to go and find his sick brother, drop the brother in front of him, let the brother die, then have your creature devour his family in front of him, then crush his house with a handful of your creature’s poo. Then kill him. I think I’m mangling things together but it was something like that.

    • Volftooms says:

      The only way I found B&W fun to play was to be an evil deity with a nice monster; that way I could focus on tossing fireballs at distant settlements, depopulating them to the point that conversion was a cinch, whilst my gentle monkey took care of all the “keeping the extant populance alive” micromanagement shite I couldn’t be bothered with.

      Let me tell you, I’ve burnt plenty of people alive in my gaming day, but I’ve never lied so consistently and heartbreakingly before or since.

    • Jeremy says:

      My experience with B&W wasn’t exactly evil, but it did kill a whole group of villagers in the process. I was training my tiger to … relieve itself away from the village, since it was a bit of an unsightly mess. Unfortunately, it decided to climb to the top of the hill next to the village and relieve itself behind a highly unstable boulder. The force of the expulsion knocked the boulder from its perch, and sent it careening down the hill and onto the unsuspecting villagers below. Soon after that, I began to train my tiger to use the water like a civilized beastie.

  11. Tom89 says:

    Also- never personally liked the Mass Effect take. I think sometimes this morality lark needs a bit of a blunt force approach- I like the “+50 evil points for you” thing.

    Always thought (and tried working on for a while) that a more complex take on that would be worthwhile. One where there are seemingly obvious good/evil choices, but they have permutations far beyond what is immediately apparent, and that good/evil is a relative concept. The idea that even the most objectively monstrous people believe themselves to be acting in the interest of ‘good’ has always had an appeal.

    oo-er that got a bit dark…

    • Superpat says:

      Wasnt it quite easier to save everybody in Fable 3 if you took the evil route?

      And I always liked how devoid of judgement on your choices the ending of Deus Ex was, it was a truly difficult choice with meaningfull philosophical ramifications instead of the boring kill everyone / save everyone dichotomy.

    • GDwarf says:

      I never liked Good/Evil axes in games, simply because reality doesn’t work that way. Good/Evil for whom? Who is judging this? Is there any distinction between the morality of intent vs. the morality of action? The list goes on.

      Lemme give some examples: You poison a water supply being used by an invading army. Is that evil? Poisoning water is usually seen as such, but you’d have to kill most of those people anyway, and this way fewer people on your side die, so is that good or evil?

      What about trying to save some lives but your plan backfires and kills more? Is that good or evil?

      Or Fable 3: If the game had worked as intended, the “evil” path wouldn’t have been evil. You are presented with a (false) dilemma: Be “good”, and leave your country defenseless against a horror that will destroy everything, or be “evil” and keep everyone alive. If that was your actual choice then being “good” would, by most moral systems, be evil, simply because you’re damning your entire country just so that you can maintain your personal sense of moral purity. How does a game handle that?

      It’s too complex an issue to be represented with a good/evil slider. Much better to remove all arbitrary divine judgement from such things. Your actions should have consequences, and people should change their opinions of you based on them, but there should be no absolute good/evil standard that you’re measured against by an omnipresent observer.

  12. kud13 says:

    Alpha Protocol. Where you can side with terrorists, or organized crime.

    Where the end-goal is either to bring down a rogue agency hijacked by a PMC… or to take it over (the Agency. OR the PMC.] or both )

    Almost everyone you meet can become friend or foe, depending on how you act, and who you choose to kill.

    And then of course, there’s the “orphans created” stat at the end of every mission, letting you know just how many children those thugs you killed had. You monster.

    • Shinard says:

      I agree entirely… apart from the slight issue that the “orphans created” stat indicates that each and every terrorist you kill is apparently the sole provider for a family of 8 (and is doing a terrible job of it, quite frankly).

      But yeah, I think what I most love about Alpha Protocol’s good/evil decisions is that it doesn’t take every single decision you make as revealing your true inner character. You’re a spy, you lie, you manipulate. Kinda comes with the job. Take Taiwan, for example. Quite near the start you run into a lunatic who’s tied his landlord up, and is threatening to pour bleach down the poor guy’s throat because he can’t find his keys. You can try and stop him, sit back and watch or say “Hey, that could be tricky. Want me to grab a funnel?”. That’s obviously an evil thing to say, but it doesn’t (necessarily) mean your character’s evil, or even that you would stand back and let a guy be tortured. It’s just the best way to get the lunatic on your side.

  13. grimdanfango says:

    The more believable depiction of evil I’ve always wanted to see in an RPG, is the monstrously evil character who cleverly manages to convince everyone in the world that he’s a great guy, by covering up all the evil he’s done to get to the top.
    Evil people generally can’t just act evil in public… there’s usually a conscious and calculated effort to *appear* as something they’re not.

    I really hope some day I can play a Baldur’s-Gate-em-up where I can rise to rule the kingdom by every foul and devious means possible, and manipulate people through false information and doctrine enough that I’m actually praised by them as a saviour.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I think that’s why I bounce hard off open-world PvP games. The people who want to be psychopathic dicks can do so with almost no meaningful barriers because there are no lasting consequences. Even in games that have some rules about unprovoked violence, if they don’t want their main avatar censured they just go get a throwaway one to conduct the mayhem. On the other hand I love games like Vampire where you are asked to do brutal and sometimes evil acts for rational reasons.

  14. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Also PS:Torment with your character’s history of being evil, avoiding your destiny and so on leading to further evil then during the game opting to sell your “friends” into slavery and such things. There’s a lot of well-narrated evil-doing esp. from your “pragmatic” self.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Ah yes and Tie Fighter of course playing the evil empire which doubles as a haven of security in space as well as oppressing dissidents.

      • grimdanfango says:

        Tie Fighter really did it well – being on the evil side felt so normal, everyone talking about upholding order or such felt like plain common decency rather than the propaganda it secretly was.
        The guy who defects with an entire fleet seemed so *evil* that you just had to do everything in your power to stop him.

    • phlebas says:

      Torment was generally wonderful but its morality system frustrated me at times because it credited you for what you said you’d do – if you agree to do something for someone then just run off with the equipment they gave you to do it with, that’s more ‘good’ than just not saying you’d do it…

  15. Unsheep says:

    I usually end up somewhere in-between Evil and Good when I play RPGs. It completely depends on the circumstances, on a case-by-case basis. It also depends on how open the game is when comes to choices, what the constraints are in the game.

    It’s not that I dislike playing evil protagonists; I’ve enjoyed games like Kane & Lynch, King’s Bounty Dark Side, Overlord, Dungeon Keeper, Evil Genius, Destroy All Humans …

    I haven’t seen that many RPGs that make being evil interesting enough in the long-run, apart from the KOTOR games and SWTOR. Tyranny simply removes the choice for you; you are either more evil or less evil.

  16. NetharSpinos says:

    Aside from Ultima & Undertale, I’ve performed the other 3 acts myself for various reasons (mainly lulz). Aside from those…

    I suppose the evilist thing I can remember doing is murdering Conner with my Rogue in DA:O…bonus points for punching out his mother when she tried to stop me. Though he also betrayed & murdered Wynne, Leliana & Shale, made Loghain a Grey Warden to kick Alastair out of the party and then had him sacrifice himself to kill the Archdemon, had Natheniel executed, stabbed Morrigan at the end of DA:A…the list goes on.

    Speaking of Tyranny though, my first playthrough was relatively mild in terms of outright villainy. There is one particular choice that will stay with me for a very long time, however; I will not spoil anything, but merely note that being evil out of necessity seems a lot crueler than being evil out of choice.

  17. Darth Gangrel says:

    I find it hard to be evil, even though I recognize that the praise I get from being good is completely hollow. I generally like annoying people more than being directly evil, like repeatedly jumping on the heads of Stormtroopers in Jedi Outcast to knock them down, which also deals no damage so you can do it indefinitely.

  18. Tiki832 says:

    I feel Tyranny does this extremely well… more so than a lot of RPGs out there that either go for more black and white good/evil depiction, or like anything Bioware develop end up turning any system into little more than some “Bad ass or Polite” meter.

    In the first hour or two, before you lift the initial edict the options feel somewhat enclosed, you’re very much the fatebinder representation of Tunons’ (and in theory through that Kyros’) wishes.

    After that point however the game more opens up and the game starts to really play around more with the idea that ‘honour’ and ‘order’ aren’t necessarily the same thing as ‘good’ or ‘just’. And that ‘chaos’ and ‘violence’ aren’t the same thing as ‘Evil’ or ‘injustice’.

    I can imagine many playing will take the likes of the disfavored and Graven Ashe and hold them up to the Chorus and the Voices of Nerat, and decide that the disfavored and Ashe are more ‘good’ and that aiding the Disfavored or Ashe’s agenda will bring about a more fair and organised form of peace.

    But when you get under the surface you see things like the common trait within the disfavored is extreme prejudice and the belief in something borderline to ‘racial purity’ in their numbers and stand to the belief that only those of northern blood and from trusted bloodlines are of worth. Everyone (or most everyone) else has a place within Kyros’ peace… but it’s a lesser place with little tolerance. If they decide you don’t have a subservient place within Kyros’ peace however, then the simple conclusion is that you must be put to death as you have no use.

    Where as the chaotic bands of the Chorus welcome anyone and work off of displays of strength. Whilst this means many ‘drafted’ are thiefs, rapists, murderers and other undesirables, that itself is the very definition of a equal and unbiased entity that does not discriminate… individuals are held to their own achievements and failings and can achieve a position within the Chorus if they prove themselves worthy of that position and fight off those that attempt to take that power for themselves.
    And this feeds into how the Chorus acts at large…. there is no distinction between soliders and civilians, innocents and guilty and so forth. If you’re unable to defend what is yours and someone else wants it, it will be taken from you. If you can defend what is yours from those that desire it, then you have a place in the Chorus and within Kyros’ empire.

    • EMI says:

      Repeatedly in the opening, the Disfavored favor a scorched earth approach, and the Chorus frequently complain that there will be nothing left to rule if the Disfavored killed everyone they wanted. Moreover, the Chorus actually has specific laws protecting children, and they are near-worshipped until they come of age. Compared to the Disfavored, who for all their professional honor, are cold and unempathetic to anyone who isn’t part of their clique or besmirches the things they hold honorable. Both the leaders are batshit crazy. I have no idea who I would choose between Jim Jones and the Joker.

  19. satan says:

    SWTOR Sith Warrior companion Vette, that was some nasty shit with the shock collar.

    Even on an evil playthrough I couldn’t keep her collared, it just seemed beyond evil to me, more like sadistic and cruel.

    • vecordae says:

      There’s a point where needless cruelty and gleeful abuse goes beyond evil to become something kind of bad.

  20. Dirk says:

    I tried a full evil run through Fallout 3. Destroying Megaton? Simples. Collecting ears of law abiding people. Mesmetronning no matter whom and putting slave collars on everyone. But there was one thing I couldn’t bring myself to do: sell Bumble, that clumsy kid in the Lamplight Caverns, to the child slaver. Such a simple task but for some odd reason that’s the one thing I just couldn’t do. I guess I’ve failed my evil G.O.A.T. now.

  21. malkav11 says:

    On a favorite act of videogame evil, the Neverwinter Nights expansion Shadows of Undrentide had some pretty vile stuff you could do, the one I best remember being when you encounter a woman whose husband has just died and whose baby has been captured by kobolds that have driven her out of her home. You can extort her wedding ring from her as payment for disposing of the kobolds and recovering her baby…and then let the kobolds leave with the baby, or kill them and then come back to her and kill the baby right in front of her, or just keep it for yourself. And it turns out (though there is no way of knowing this at the time), if you keep the baby? You can later sacrifice it to demons in the Hordes of the Underdark expansion.

    I was also quite pleased with the ending of NWN2. Oh, not the one most people got, which is by all reports pretty disappointing, but the one where the big bad of the entire campaign says “Join me!” and you go “Okay!” You can then convince a few of your NPC companions to join up with you, and your final boss fight is instead murdering the rest of your party as they try to resist your evil bloc of power. And then you’re the big bad’s regional governor in a thousand year reign of shadow and terror. There have been so many bad guys in CRPGs who’ve invited you to join their team that I was absolutely chuffed to finally be able to do it.

  22. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Ultima VII lets you make your own bread and isn’t too fussy about what liquid you use. Cue the Avatar of the Eight Virtues, paragon of righteousness, hero of the realm, part time Space Ace and future Titan of Ether… feeding a kid bread baked with his own father’s blood.

    Tsk. Whatever happened to the noble hero who both saved the day and spent ages juggling the party after meeting up with a prostitute so that Sherry the Mouse could finally get laid?

    This is essentially a synopsis of Nakar’s U6 and U7 LPs. But of course, you know that, Richard. You love them as much as I do.

  23. Divolinon says:

    Jade Empire. The closed fist/open hand approach is basically the Mass Effect system (except Jade Empire came first).

    At some point you get the option to enslave your partymembers. You can have a threesome one day, enslave both women the next.

  24. A Wanderer says:

    Fallout New Vegas’s main quest had an interesting “evil” choice. I’m not talking about siding with the Caesar’s Legion, wich was the obvious “evil choice”, I’m talking about the option to actually say “fuck it” to everyone using you as a tool and taking over the lucky 38, killing the poor old man. I found absolutely brilliant that the game would let you do something that selfish and that satisfying. I remember staring down at Vegas from the penthouse of the casino, my hands still covered in blood from the poor guy I killed, and actually feeling like a real evil mastermind.

  25. Rainshine says:

    Arcanum. One of the first quests you do is to help a ghost get released. He sends you to kill a man. You can offer to help the man, who the ghost robbed, by going to another man and getting something back. So you can do that. Then, after persuading man 2 to give it to you, you can kill him, for fun. Then go to man 1, give the item. Then kill him. Then go back to the ghost. And taunt him with being stuck in eternal torment. This is the same game that allows you to start a war over a princess who died in a shipwreck, offers a reputation as Pervert of Tarant (part of a quest for mastering a skill, actually), and goes down the axe murderer path of having you butcher an entire town if you’re so inclined. And you’re still not as evil as the big bad.