1. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Would you say my villain is evil?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheDarkWriter, Aug 16, 2014.

    I'm trying to create a complex villain. He doesn't really do anything wrong but rather he gives power to troubled people and does this to see what they use it for. Even when something terrible like mass murder happens he's blamed as being responsible and he gets called a murder his response is "What do you mean? I didn't kill anyone the decisions were always up to the people I gave power to." though he's not purposely causing chaos and death he's trying to teach a sort of lesson in that he wants these people to grow, learn and mature.

    He even expresses disappointment when he sees these people go bad. Would you say he's evil?
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    No, not evil. Just misguided or delusional.
     
  3. Zelg
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    Zelg Member

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    Evil is not the word I'd use. If your villain expresses disappointment when people choose to do bad things, I would call him an antivillain, perhabs.

    But I would need to read more about your villain more to make a better judgement.
     
  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If he doesn't try to stop his "projects" from going off the rails and taking innocents with them, then I don't believe that he's as bothered as he likes to tell himself that he is when they do hurt other. I'd still see him as a "passive" evil (apathetic) instead of an "active" evil (aggressive), but evil nonetheless.
     
  5. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Sounds like Lucifer, the devil, no?
     
  6. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would not necessarily call him a villain, much less evil. Titles and adjectives aside, though, I love the idea of a character who lives by the principle of free will and individual responsibility, even when that means refraining from stopping people from doing evil things. That is basically playing God.

    My advice: make the character a genuinely caring and well-reasoned person. Present his philosophy as persuasively as you can. Create cognitive dissonance in the reader. Make it impossible for the reader to judge the character as either a good or a bad person.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say that he is absolutely, definitely, responsible for what these people do. You hand a gun to a person that you have reason to know to be unbalanced, the resulting deaths are on your hands.

    (Edited slightly.)
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Charles Manson never killed anybody either.
     
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  9. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I'd have different interpretations depending on your portrayal of how intimately he knows those he gives the power too. When you say 'troubled', do you mean 'filled with angst/conflicted/torn up inside/mentally unhinged', or do you mean 'facing adverse circumstances'?

    If the villain is aware of the former, I'd agree with @ChickenFreak . That's analogous to pushing a precipitous boulder off the edge of a cliff with no regard for those standing below. 'Actualising a potential' or 'pulling the puppet strings'.

    If the latter, I'd view that more as 'redressing the balance of power', in which case the onus is more on the 'troubled'. I could see this type of character maybe fitting a Trickster/Contagonist archetype over a Villain/Antagonist. Whoever the power was given to could plausibly become the villain though. E.g. Robin Hood robs from the rich and gives to the poor... who then use those riches to buy weapons and rob the other poor. (EDIT: I think the plot of the manga/anime Death Note is an example of this approach.)

    It all depends on the character's intent, which would seem to be informed by his familiarity with 'the troubled'.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  10. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I find it interesting that I thought you were describing an anthropomorphic god at first.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your villain is evil.

    There, I've said it. But evil is just a label, and a rather flat one at that. It's even flatter than labeling a character a Mary Jane.

    Evil is a term to satisfy people who see the world in black and white, with no gray, no colors. Paint your characters with a rich palette, even those characters who try to thwart your protagonist at every turn.
     
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  12. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there any way to describe a character that can't be labelled "labeling"?

    On one hand, you're saying to use lots of different shades in drafting characters. On the other hand, you're saying not to identify differences between them.
    :wtf:
    … Sounds legit.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I hope you are merely being disingenuous.

    Do you know the difference between saying, "He is black" descriptively, versus saying, "He is black" to sum up his nature?

    Unfortunately, too many people in this world do not understand the distinction. The concept that having an adjective attached to a person is not the same as using that adjective to define that person.

    With evil, there really is no descriptive content to the word. It is 100% judgement, and all-encompassing by definition.
     
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  14. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I read the OP, I didn't get the impression that the question was "I need my character's nature to be summed up as 100% all-encompassing Evil. Does the description I've come up with adequately serve the label I need?"

    I got the impression that the question was "I have come up with an intriguing character concept that I plan on exploring in a story. On a side note, could he be described by a particular adjective or not?"
     
  15. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    He is evil, yes. There's that old standby from philosophy about deciding if the fat man dies on the train tracks or the ten people...you can switch the tracks to save them.

    He's actively putting people onto the train tracks, even inadvertently. Giving someone a gun and then being shocked when they use it is still pretty evil.
     
  16. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Well the idea is that he comes off as sort of angelic the people he gives power to come from all sorts of situations. He doesn't stop them but he does talk to them through out the process of what happens and even at one point will say "So there is nothing I can say to make you change your mind? Alright then I certainly hope you can live with yourself. I wont interfere as I said it's your responsibility."
     
  17. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    Is your villain causing intentional harm to others?

    The 'yes' or 'no' will be your answer.

    Of course, it can get more complicated than that and often does, but that is a general guideline to find out on the fly.

    Remember: it's perfectly acceptable to have a villain who doesn't believe he's the villain. In fact, they often make the strongest characters.
     
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  18. Empty Bird
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    I might be being fiddly, I don't know, but what do you mean by evil?

    When someone says "evil", I think dastardly, dirty and fiendish. So no. Not evil.

    But then it depends on your portrayal of the character within the book. Although the description to me didn't sound what I'd personally class as evil, I'd say he had the potential to be evil.

    Do you want him to be evil?
     
  19. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Giving power to troubled people to see what happens is at least very irresponsible. At worst, if he is compliant through lack of action, yes, he could be considered evil.

    Hitler never killed anyone himself (not including ww1 as a lawful combatant). Neither did Manson.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    That's the key. Through all of history, pretty much everyone who we think of as evil would never consider themselves the 'bad' guy.
     
  21. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    On the other hand, through all of history, pretty much everyone has done things they knew to be wrong, because they momentarily cared more about personal gain than about doing the right thing.

    "Good guy" and "bad guy" are meaningless; everyone does good things and bad things.
     
  22. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    All villains are evil by definition. I think you mean antagonist.

    Petty terminology quibbles aside, what exactly do you want? "Evil" is a label that means different things to different people, so there is no clear cut definition of whether you antagonist is evil or not. All you will get here are people's personal opinions on morality.

    And on that note, my personal opinion is "sort of evil". While he may not be going out of his way to cause suffering, as described in the OP, he doesn't seem to have any agenda outside of using these people as a curiosity to study. His end game seems to be entirely for his own benefit and at the expense of others, so realistically, he is at least in some way indirectly responsible for the suffering caused, and this suffering was not for any kind of greater good. While the results these "troubled people" deliver may be fascinating, unleashing their destructive potential out of curiosity is hardily a noble cause.

    So yeah, this is rather immoral in my opinion.
     
  23. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    Heh! I like this guy already

    I would describe him as a person who enjoys studying people and apply his ideologies to them.

    He lacks morality in that sense as he is willing to let someone commit mass murder for his own objective of “teaching a lesson”. The very method of letting others take extremes as a way of learning is already something broken.

    If you ask me about he being evil. In my opinion yes he is. Is not as if he does anything by himself, but he is perfectly willing to grant the tools for “stuff” to happen. In legal terms he is already an accomplice of the crimes (assuming you want to use the legal side). In moral terms, even if he is making people learn their mistakes and errors, he is blind to his own mistake. He is the one who needs to learn and mature. Even if indirect, his crime is worse than those of the rest.

    The worst kind of evil is that one who is blind to the truth that he is actually evil, the one who certainly believes he acts for the true good.
     
  24. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's rather analogous to when the gangster says "Give me the password to the president's security limo or I'll shoot your wife...No?...Well, look what YOU MADE ME DO - it's your fault that your wife's dead"
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not seeing the application of the analogy.

    The analogy would be closer if it were:

    "Give me the password to the president's security limo or I'll shoot your wife...No?...Dang, this thing is jammed. OK, hand me your gun so I can shoot your wife. Thanks."

    In that case, yeah, I think that the person who handed over the gun has a huge percentage of the responsibility for his wife's death.
     

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