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I’m playing a Fire Dept EMT in a d20 Modern zombie holocaust game at the moment, and I’m trying to play him good. Lawful Good, to be exact.

It’s really hard.
I’m trying to play my Character, Henry Fallon, as someone who will do what’s right, not what’s convenient or safest. I see him as someone who runs into burning buildings and pulls people out because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s his job.
Walking to the game last night I got to thinking about playing good characters, and how often I do it.
Not very, seems to be the answer.

I’d consciously decided to play someone solid, reliable, moral and, well, good, this time around, and was wondering why I don’t do it that often.
I remembered the Chaotic Good Bard I’d played in a Forgotten Realms game some ten years ago (that long?). He was active and immense fun, but also vain, self interested and a glory hunter. He did good things, but mostly just because it would get him chicks.
It’s not hard playing that kind of ‘Good’. It’s basically win-win with little effort.

Back in the days when I LARPed, the last character I played before I quit was a Priest of Truth, Brother Cornelius Woodrow. He focused on protective spells and had vowed to always tell the truth. He constantly strived to be open and honest and fair. He was constantly frustrated by the inherent selfishness of the world, by the little lies we habitually tell, by shortsightedness.
I had a cracking headache, without fail, after playing him.
Thing is, he was a fun character, or a character who liked fun. He was game for a laugh. He was useful, and a team player.
Yet I didn’t enjoy playing him, because RPGs don’t often reward selfless altruism. Paladins are seen as boring. Good guys are automatically suspect.

It seems as though most RPG characters default to a Neutral position. Not Evil, not Good, just reactionary beings that do whatever they want as the mood strikes them with no long term plan or consistent intentions beyond their own benefit.

Thing is, I do love me a morally and ethically absent character. I’m just as guilty. I enjoy the freedom and release of acting upon desire and whimsy alone.
I have fond memories of my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Halfling who gleefully murdered old women and threw children to Skaven because it was what was required at the time for his continued survival and/or entertainment (he was, ultimately, trying to save a city from a Skaven siege and chaos infiltration from the sewers. That makes it alright, yeah?).
I loved my LARP evil necromancer, Hans Karlos, a sadistic, traitorous maniac who betrayed two kingdoms, his friends and allies, to save his own skin. Good times.

After my game finished last night, I sat in on the Serenity game running alongside us and played the ships cook, who is clearly an ex-assassin with the ability and conviction to wipe out a ships crew with ease.

God, I loved it…

I find playing a good, honest character hard work, yet can drop into a dodgy fuck’s role in a heartbeat.
Is that normal?

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3 thoughts on “What would Rick Grimes do? / Being the good guy

  1. I think it is normal for everyone to struggle to be good, both in rpgs and in real life.

    “Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be who go in there.” Matthew 7:13

    It is easy to be selfish and cruel, but takes extreme effort to be selfless and kind.

    However, being a member of a religion does(should) not necessarily imply that someone is good. I haven't considered myself a religious person in 20 years but continue to try to be “good”.

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  2. I think most people don't consider it. In D&D alignment terms, most people are Neutral, Lawful or Chaotic.
    Being Evil or Good usually requires a conscious decision, and, as you say, being Good requires far more effort.

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  3. I actually really enjoy playing Good characters in tabletop rpgs – I think I've only ever played one actively Evil character, although admitedly I have also played a lot of “neutral” characters (especially if the system doesn't make you define your position).
    My lawful good Paladin was fun and I had great fun trying to explain why my neutral good Warrior-Priestess had taken a Greatsword to a kinfe-fight when the prosecutors weren't accepting the “but they are the bad guys” explanation. My Chaotic Good priest wasn't a self-serving good guy so much as a peaced-out hippie in plate mail who wanted everyone to get along. Perhaps my favourite excursion into being good was with my half-orc Helzig though – taking her from a “true neutral” dumb-and-will-do-as-told-so-long-as-not-obviously-evil to actrively considering her actions after meeting with a Paladin who explained the concept of being “good”.
    I do agree that Good takes more effort but sometimes effort can be rewarding 🙂

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