Occasionally in a game, there will be a jarring break from the standard cartoon evil villains, or misguided tragic villains to someone who is evil, unredeemable and just wrong.
This has to be something that is carefully managed to have a stark contrast to cartoon evil. Cartoonish evil is full of skulls, and blood and gore. It is a realm of cackling megalomania mixed with pointless shock. I recently added some true darkness to the game in the following manner.
The party broke into an enemy camp and discovered a secret grimoire of the armies leader. Asking what was in it, I responded "Terrible Dark Magic you may not be able to stomach, I haven't written what they actually are beyond the Spell Templates". I went on to inform them that if they did want to use them they would as a group decide the specifics of the templates. As a quick recap on templates, there may be a spell template like "Bolt" and then specific versions of the spell that can be found like "Lightning Bolt" or "Acid Blast" or "Malakath's spectral serpent strike". So I explained the templates are "Spell Storage", "Channeling" and "Know Alignment".
Spell Storage is a template for putting spells into an item for later use. Brewing potions is a version of the template, so is dwarven runes, so would putting a spell into a candle or an ointment etc. Channeling is to replenish your mana from the environment, such as regaining mana from the mountaintop or recharging on the sunrise. Know Alignment is a template for various mind reading spells like mind meld, or a spell where you enter a sleepers dreams.
So they start going with "Evil Spells", describing events "Melting Faces" etc etc. So I set them straight, these are EVIL SPELLS.
So I quickly threw together an evil version of "Spell Storage". In this case the spell allowed the caster to put a spell into a child they conceive. It must be their child, and the child must love them for full effect. And while a potion must be drank, or a candle lit this spell required killing the child. There is no way in which this spell can be used by someone who is not unrepentant evil. A spell like "melt face" can be used by a good person against an evil person. No one could ever use a spell like this and not be evil.
Now due to its limitations and evilness it was a very powerful version of the template, incredibly potent. But in no uncertain terms the good thing to do is burn the grimoire and even learning the spells is really an evil act.
But I told them if they want to have the spells I won't stop them, but I am making them develop the spells. So I am asking the players to make up the details to go into the templates.
I would like to see if any of my readers have any ideas to start off for these evil spells, not mechanics, just themes. A mind reading spell and energy restoring spell that cannot be used by a good person.
Feel free to email if you feel sheepish of even having particularly evil ideas. I'll let you know what the players come up with.
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