5e: How to Run an Evil Campaign

Fantasy Reaper in an Evil Campaign
Table of Contents

Running an evil campaign can be fun for both players and Dungeon Masters. It can add a new level of excitement and suspense to the game, and it can be a great way to explore the darker side of human nature. If you're thinking about running an evil campaign, here are tips to help get you started.

Evil Campaign Writing & Dungeon Master Tips

Undead skeleton is getting ready to attack with a bow and arrow

Always be unpredictable.

The players should never be able to feel safe. You don't want predictability from one session-to-the next! As the GM, you need always keep them guessing and should keep pushing their buttons. This will ensure you run an enjoyable campaign that doesn't become boring.

Add comic relief moments here and there.

Believe it or not, adding levity to your evil campaign can make for a more fun experience for everyone involved. Nobody wants to be bogged down in constant darkness and despair – that's just no fun. 

So don't forget to add a few comic relief moments here and there to keep things light. This could involve everything from your villain breaking into an impromptu song-and-dance routine during their evil monologue to having a hapless henchman slip on a banana peel and fly across the room. 

Just remember to keep things silly and fun, or else you risk making your campaign feel too dark and dreary. Trust me. Your players will thank you for it!

Actions need consequences.

battle between spaceships and monster,sci-fi concept illustration painting

In an evil campaign, there should be consequences to murder, so don't just let your players get away with it. If they're a terrible person, they need to be punished. This will help keep things on track and prevent the evil party from turning into a bunch of wild murder hobos. 

The punishment need not be harsh, but it should be enough to make them think twice before killing someone again. Maybe the players get a negative reputation in town, or the guard keeps a closer eye on them. 

Whatever the consequence is, it should make them realize there are consequences to their actions. After all, if there's one thing that evil parties need to learn, murder comes with a price.

Players should be outnumbered and distrusted.

As any experienced Dungeon Master knows, one of the keys to a successful campaign outline is to keep the tension high. After all, what fun is it if the players are always in complete control and never face any real challenges?

One way to accomplish this is by ensuring that the players are outnumbered whenever possible. This could mean slightly increasing the number of enemies they encounter or putting them up against foes that are significantly tougher than they are.

Another option is to force the players into situations where innocent people will distrust them. For example, if they're trying to help a village that's being terrorized by monsters, have the villagers be suspicious of them at first.

With a bit of planning, you can make sure your campaign is one that everyone will enjoy. This will make things more difficult for the players and also add an element of suspense to the story. Remember, it's essential to keep things interesting for both the players and the audience.

Set some ground rules and build a rich world with juicy details.

Bleach is performing magic, digital painting.

Evil campaigns are a ton of fun, but they require a bit some unique pre-planning than your average game. To start, you need to set some ground rules with your players. What sort of things are off-limits?

What kind of evil are they allowed to be? Once you've got that sorted out, you need to build your world.

Fill it with juicy details and make it rich and colorful. NPCs should be fully fleshed out and carry credible threats. You want your players to feel like they're in for it this time.

That being said, don't get too carried away with the planning. Evil campaigns tend to fall into chaos quickly, so it's best not to get too attached to your plans.

They'll probably change anyway. Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

Make sure everyone knows what's going on.

As the GM, it's essential that you set the tone for the campaign from the very beginning. Please make sure everyone knows that they're going to be playing an evil character and that there will be consequences for their actions. It's also important to be prepared to deal with those consequences.

If a player kills someone, they better have a plan for how that body will be disposed of.

If they're caught, make sure you know what the punishment will be. And if they're successful in their evil deeds, make sure you have a way to reward them.

Being a GM for an evil campaign isn't for everyone, but it can be a lot of fun if you're up for the challenge. Just make sure you're prepared for everything that might come your way.

Be prepared for infighting and have a backup plan.

It's no secret that infighting is a common occurrence in role-playing games. Whether it's between player characters or NPCs, sooner or later, someone will start throwing punches.

As the game master, it's your job to keep the game on track and prevent it from descending into chaos. But that's not always easy, and sometimes you need to be prepared for things to go off the rails.

If things do go sideways, you can quickly get the game back on track. Of course, even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry. That's why it's crucial to have a plan for dealing with infighting before the game begins. 

By being prepared for infighting, you can keep your game running smoothly and avoid potential disruptions.

How Should You Deal with Players Who Are Roleplaying as Villains

electric man use evil powers to destroy cars, digital art style, illustration painting

Think about how player agency and adequately motivate them

As the Dungeon Master, it is essential to consider how much agency your evil players will have in your campaign. Take the time to understand the player's goals and alignments. Make sure they are kept up to date with what is going on.

This will make it much easier to motivate them to perform actions that align with their character.

It can be helpful to give them a reason to misbehave, as this will make roleplaying much easier. However, ultimately it is up to you to decide how much control they will have throughout the campaign.

Give them enough information to make decisions and believable backgrounds.

As the game master, it is your responsibility to ensure that each player has enough information to make informed decisions about their character.

This means giving the players a detailed description of the world, providing well-rounded NPCs, and ensuring their character has a believable background.

It can be tempting to withhold information from players to create suspense or surprise, but this can often backfire. If players feel like they're being kept in the dark, it can lead to frustration and a feeling of powerlessness.

Instead, give them just enough information to pique their curiosity without overwhelming them. This will keep the players engaged and invested in the game.

Players should not play evil characters every session.

Horned demon knight with a big sword on his shoulder. Colourful picture in the genre of fantasy.

There should be a balance of good and evil deeds in every campaign. Playing a bad character every session can lead to desensitization over time, and players need to be able to empathize with their characters, so they don't start thinking of horrific acts as commonplace.

If the party is always going around committing atrocities, it will become more challenging for them to role-play effectively.

Players should feel like they're doing something special when their characters do something evil, and if they're constantly doing evil things, it loses its impact. So please, for everyone's enjoyment of the game, don't play an evil character every session.

Evil characters should never win.

While evil characters can be fun to play, it's important to remember that they should never win. In the end, good always prevails.

This doesn't mean that evil characters can't be successful in their goals, but ultimately they should never come out on top.

If you find yourself in a situation where evil seems to be winning, it's time to rethink your campaign, or maybe you need to provide more challenges.

Whatever the case may be, make sure that evil never comes out on top. Otherwise, the game will lose its suspense and challenge, and there will be no reason for the players to continue playing.

World Building Tips When Running an Evil Campaign

Crow sitting on a gravestone

The world should be dark, gritty, and full of moral ambiguity.

If you want to run a genuinely evil campaign, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, it should be dark and gritty.

Second, it should be full of moral ambiguity. The world should be a dangerous place, where the weak are preyed upon and the strong rule through force. There should be no heroes, only survivors.

Characters should be constantly torn between self-interest and doing what's right, with no clear right or wrong answer.

And third, it should be epic in scope. The stakes should be high, and the consequences of failure should be dire. If you can create a campaign that meets all of these criteria, you'll have created something truly evil.

Create factions with their own goals and agendas that are in constant conflict.

Game worlds are more interesting when the game master creates factions with their own goals and agendas in constant conflict.

This way, the players have to choose sides and make decisions that affect the course of the game. It also adds an element of risk because if a player's faction is defeated, they may lose their character or be banished from the game world.

However, this can also lead to exciting opportunities for alliances and betrayals. Ultimately, it is up to the game master to decide how to use factions to create an engaging and dynamic game world.

Reveal bits and pieces of the world's history as the campaign goes on.

Death in the hood concept

A well-designed campaign setting should provide enough information to give players a sense of the world without overwhelming them with details. One way to achieve this is to reveal bits and pieces of the world's history as the campaign goes on.

For example, let the players discover an ancient ruin that contains clues about a long-forgotten civilization.

As the campaign progresses, the players can slowly piece together the history of this civilization and learn more about its culture and customs.

In this way, players can gradually understand the world they are exploring without being spoon-fed exposition. By revealing the world's history little by little, you can create a rich and detailed campaign setting without losing your players in a sea of information.

How You Can Play an Evil Character in DND

wizard of the black birds standing on an odd trees, digital art style, illustration painting

Here are some tips on how to play an evil character without compromising the game:

Know the evil alignments.

There are three evil alignments in Dungeons & Dragons: chaotic evil, neutral evil, and lawful evil. Each has its definition and guidelines.

Understand your character's motivations.

Why is your character evil? What do they hope to gain by being evil? These are essential questions to answer before you start playing your character.

Be willing to make sacrifices.

A child drawing the evil pantagram a symbol of demon on the ground, digital art style, illustration painting

An evil character is not afraid of making sacrifices for their own personal gain.

Be manipulative.

An evil character is often very manipulative, using others to achieve their goals. This can be done through persuasion, threats, or even outright mind control.

Be prepared to backstab.

An evil character is not afraid to betray their allies, whether for personal gain or simply because they enjoy watching others suffer.

Embrace your darkness.

An evil character should not be afraid to embrace their dark side. This means being willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, even resorting to violence or other unsavory acts.

Evil Is on Spectrum: A Guide to Understanding the Dark Side of Motivation

the angry sorcerer of evil spirits holds a magic gem cast a spell, digital art style, illustration painting

There are no truly good or evil characters.

There are no truly evil characters in a game. There is only a balance between light and dark, with each side containing different perspectives on what they see as bad or good.

Fundamentally this is about contrasting motivations. For everyone who views themselves as a freedom fighter, another views them as a terrorist. One person's messiah is another's devil.

Understand their motivation and goals.

One of the most critical elements in creating a believable evil character is understanding what motivates them. Without this vital piece of information, it's all too easy for the character to come across as one-dimensional and flat. So what motivates an evil character?

In many cases, it's a desire for power or control. Others may be motivated by greed or a need for revenge. Whatever the case may be, it's vital to ensure that the motivation is believable and relatable. Only then will players be fully invested in the character and their actions.

Use real-world examples

One of the best ways to get into an evil mindset is to look at real-world examples. There are plenty of fiction and non-fiction stories about people who have done terrible things.

Researching these cases can help you understand how someone could justify their actions and what kinds of things they might be willing to do.

Give them a reason to live.

In a party that lacks survival instincts, the player's character may find themselves in danger and easily killed. This puts their entire campaign at risk of being jeopardized and ended prematurely. To avoid this, give your evil characters a reason to live.

Make them believe in something larger than themselves, whether it's a cause, an ideology, or simply power.

Don't forget the little things.

While it's important to have grandiose goals, don't forget the smaller objectives that need to be accomplished. These can be just as important to an evil character's development and help move the plot along.

What is the Difference Between a Classic Heroic and Evil Run Campaign?

A huge beast-man in the heat of battle fiercely crumples with clawed paws against the background of a rich yellow sun, he is surrounded by a human army of spearmen in armor. 2D illustration.

The game is still D&D. There will still be heroes, villains, monsters, and treasures. The main difference is the focus of the game. A heroic match will focus on the triumph of good over evil. An evil game is going to focus on the opposite. It's up to the Dungeon Master to decide how dark and twisted things can get.

Characters are motivated by selfishness and willing to take shortcuts.

In an evil campaign, the player characters are motivated by selfishness and willing to take shortcuts. This can lead to problems, ranging from petty squabbles over who gets the loot to full-blown betrayals and backstabbing.

Why Run an Evil Campaign in 5e?

dark fantasy concept showing the boy with a torch facing smoke monsters with demon's horns, digital art style, illustration painting

It can be just as challenging as a traditional one.

In a standard D&D campaign, the heroes are typically good-aligned, fighting against evil monsters and villains.

However, there are alternative options for those who want to explore a different side of the game. An evil campaign can be just as exciting and challenging as a traditional one, pitting the players against heroic opponents in a battle of wits and strength.

An evil campaign can provide an unforgettable gaming experience with careful planning and execution.

The best stories are about bad people doing terrible things.

Good characters don't always make for good stories – sometimes, the best stories are about bad people doing terrible things.

Think about it: who are the most memorable characters in fiction? The heroes or the villains? More often than not, the villains stick with us long after we've put down a book or turned off a movie. They're the ones who are truly larger than life, the ones who seem to eclipse the heroes in every way. And that's what makes them so fascinating – we can't help but be drawn to their dark charisma, even as we root for their downfall.

So next time you're looking for a good story, don't be afraid to explore the darker side of human nature. Chances are, you'll find something that's truly unforgettable.

A good story does not always have good characters.

A good story does not always have good characters. Sometimes, the protagonists are virtue itself.

What matters is not whether the characters are good or bad, but whether they are interesting. Sometimes, the antagonists are mustache-twirling evil personified. Other times, both sides might be a little bit gray. After all, villains can be compelling if they are well-written and three-dimensional.

Likewise, a paper-thin “hero” will not make for a very engaging story. So, while it is certainly possible to write a good story with good characters, it is by no means necessary. The important thing is to create complex and believable characters that will keep readers turning the page.

It can help explore grey morality.

A beautiful but sinister girl with a doll face holds a long sword in her hands, she has purple mystical eyes, ink smeared marks on her face and a cross on her forehead. 2d illustration.

It is often said that there are no absolutes in morality, that it is all a matter of perspective. This can be a difficult thing to wrap one's head around, but there is a way to explore this grey area of morality: by playing evil characters in role-playing games.

When players take on the role of an evil character, they are forced to confront the complexity of moral choices. From one perspective, what might be considered a “good” deed could be seen as evil from another.

As players explore the various shades of morality, they can better understand the gray area between good and evil. In addition, playing evil characters can also be a lot of fun. There is a certain thrill in embracing one's dark side, even if it is just for a game.

So if you're looking to add some depth to your role-playing experience, consider adding some evil characters to your repertoire. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself in the process.

Pitfalls of Running an Evil Campaign in 5e?

knight with a sword facing the lava demon in hell, digital art style, illustration painting

For one, evil characters and campaigns are a touchy topic in the D&D community. It's one of those things that players either love or hate, with very little middle ground. If you decide to run an evil campaign, be prepared for some backlash from some people. This type of game isn't for everybody.

Inexperienced players shouldn't start with an evil campaign.

Evil campaigns are much more complicated than good ones, and they require a lot of strategic planning. Moreover, they can be very frustrating for inexperienced players trying to learn the ropes. One time I ran an evil campaign, and it was a lot of fun, but I quickly realized that it was not the best way to learn the game.

I would advise any new player to start with a good campaign for these reasons. Once you have a solid understanding of the game mechanics, you can always try your hand at playing an evil campaign. But in the meantime, it is best to stick with the good guys.

Be extra careful not to upset anyone.

It is essential to be careful not to upset anyone at the party in an evil campaign.

Players and the GM need to be careful about how they word things. Some players will be quick to take offense if they feel they're being disrespected.

If someone at the party does become upset, it is important to apologize and try to make amends right then and there. The last thing you want is for someone to leave the party because they were offended by someone's actions.

With a bit of thought and courtesy, you can ensure that everyone at the table has a good time while playing an evil campaign.

Remember, at the end of the day; we're all just here to roll some dice and have fun.

Remind players that everyone is just playing a game

Look, I know that it can be easy to get caught up in the game and start to take things personally. After all, we're all human beings with feelings, and it's only natural to want to defend ourselves when we feel like we're being attacked.

But at the end of the day, we're just playing a game.

No one is actually evil, and there's no need to be offended at every slight.

Establish Acceptable Subject Matter

I am often asked about the acceptability of violence and descriptiveness when playing an evil campaign. My answer is always the same: it depends on the group. Some groups are comfortable with a high level of descriptive violence, and others aren't.

If anyone in the group is particularly offended by some subject matter, it should be avoided at the gaming table.

The most important thing is to establish beforehand what is acceptable to everyone in the group. That way, everyone can enjoy the game without feeling uncomfortable or offended.

22 Evil Campaign Quests, Missions, and Plot Hooks

Dragon Rider ready for attack

List of enticing quests, missions, plot hooks, and plot devices for evil players to embark on in an evil D&D campaign.

Get attacked by the Chosen One.

The party is camped out for the night, minding their own business, when suddenly, the chosen one bursts into their camp! The chosen one is on a mission to vanquish evil from the kingdom and has heard rumors that the party is up to no good.

The chosen one is determined to end their evil ways, even if it means fighting through the entire party! This could be an excellent encounter for characters with selfish motivations, as they will have to face off against someone selfless and relentless in their pursuit of justice.

There will be no reasoning with the chosen one, so the party will have to resort to violence if they want to remain victorious. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of a rivalry that lasts for years to come…

Destroy an entire city

The folks are scared. The mayor is a useless drunk. The guards are corrupt. It's time to show these fools what happens when you cross the wrong person. Find allies, make deals with the underworld, and bring about utter destruction upon the city. Leave no survivors.

Kidnap someone important

This could be a politician, a wealthy merchant, or even a member of royalty. Whatever their station, they will be ransomed for a hefty price.

Perhaps you will blackmail them into doing your bidding or use them as leverage in negotiations. But that's not all – this hostage can also be used to further your evil machinations.

Start a war

The region is on the brink of war. All it will take is a little push to send everything spiraling out of control. Perhaps you can frame one side for a crime they didn't commit or fan the flames of existing tensions. With enough chaos, anything becomes possible.

Conquer a kingdom.

The king is weak. The queen is beautiful. And the people are ripe for the taking. It's time to take what is rightfully yours – by force if necessary.

Amass an army, make allies with other evil forces, and overthrow the current regime. Then sit back and enjoy your new kingdom.

Create a monster

This could be literal or figurative. Use your dark powers to create a creature of nightmares or simply bring out the worst in someone.

Either way, this monster will do your bidding and strike fear into the hearts of all who cross your path.

man holding twin swords standing with giant smoke monster, digital art style, illustration painting

Summon a demon

Demons are powerful creatures from the underworld that can be summoned and controlled by those with the proper knowledge. A demon can be a valuable asset, whether you need an extra bodyguard or want someone to do your dirty work.

Use this to your advantage by summoning a demon to do your bidding.

Make a deal with a devil.

Devils are fiends that dwell in the Nine Hells. They are masters of deception and deals and can often be persuaded to help those willing to make a pact with them.

Be careful, though – devils are not to be trusted and will always try to deceive you somehow.

Enslave a god

Gods are powerful beings that can be worshipped and called upon for help. But they can also be enslaved and forced to do your bidding.

Whether you imprison them or simply make a deal they can't refuse, gods can be made to kneel before you. Just be careful not to anger them, or you may find yourself receiving their wrath.

Take over a seaport

In this adventure, the villainous players slowly take over a seaport through a series of murders. They start by taking a few “murder for hire” jobs but soon realize they can manipulate power structures if they kill key appointed officials to create their own little kingdom of darkness and despair.

They aim to acquire real political power – which would be great fun! By murderously taking out the key figures who uphold the status quo, they can create a power vacuum filled with their minions.

In this way, they can gradually tighten their grip on the city until it becomes a dark and dismal place where their whims are law. What could be more fun for a group of criminal players than that?

Destroy a religious institution

Whether you're sick of hearing about “false gods” or simply want to watch the world burn, destroying a religious institution can be a fun and cathartic experience.

Find their weak points, target their leaders, and bring about their downfall. The only question is, how much damage do you want to cause?

Bring about an apocalypse

The world is a dark and dangerous place. Why not make it even darker? Use your powers to bring about an apocalyptic event that will plunge the world into darkness.

Whether it's a literal apocalypse or simply a symbolic one, the choice is yours.

Rob, a famous diamond store

This is a classic evil heist. Plan everything out perfectly, recruit a team of experts, and pull off the perfect crime.

Make sure to leave no evidence behind, and don't get caught.

Stop a Hero From Getting Revenge

The evil party had thought they were safe. They had achieved their goal and completed their evil deeds. But one party member, the hero, had survived the massacre. He was wounded and left for dead, but he survived. And now he's seeking vengeance.

The evil party will have to face the consequences of their actions as the hero seeks to end them. It won't be easy, but the evil party must be stopped. The hero will make them pay for what they've done, and justice will be served.

Create a doomsday device

This could be anything from a magical artifact that can destroy the world to a virus that can wipe out all life on Earth.

Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that cannot be stopped. Once you've created your doomsday device, sit back and watch as the world destroys itself.

Kill someone important

This could be anyone from a politician to a rival villain.

Whoever it is, make sure their death is public, gruesome, and untraceable back to you. This will send

Fight against goodly underdogs.

The evil party has been up to no good, as per usual. The heroes are a ragtag group of underdogs who have banded together to save the world from the awful deeds of the evil party. The evil party will have to use all their dirty tricks and brute force to stop the heroes from achieving their goals.

It'll be a tough fight, but the heroes are prepared to go down swinging!

Burndown, a famous library

This is a crime that will be fun and very satisfying. Find the most extensive and famous library in the world, and make sure it burns to the ground. The more books you can destroy, the better.

Recruit allies

To be successful, you'll need to recruit allies. This could be anyone from other villains, to monsters, to demons. Whatever you choose, make sure they're loyal to you and willing to do your bidding.

Manipulate people

The key to a successful evil campaign is manipulation. You'll need to learn how to read people and then use that knowledge to control them.

Find out what they want, and then use it against them. Make them think they're in control when you are the one pulling the strings.

Sabotage your enemies

Whether through physical sabotage or psychological warfare, find ways to weaken and destroy your enemies from within.

If they're strong, make them weaker. If they're smart, make them stupid. Whatever you do, make sure it's something that will ensure their downfall.

Reclaim a town overrun by even eviler characters

A coalition of evil forces had overrun the town, and the only thing standing in their way was the player's group. The town guard had reluctantly allied themselves with them to defeat the enemy. The uneasy alliance between the town guard and the player's group of villains was forged in blood. 

Though they were uneasy about working with such heinous criminals, they knew that it was the only way to save their town.

The player's group consisted of some of the vilest and most ruthless villains in campaign history. They were sadists, murderers, and torturers who derived pleasure from causing pain. The town guard was repulsed by their actions, but they had no choice but to work with them.

So together, they formulated a plan to take down the enemy forces.

The battle was fierce, but eventually, the player's group emerged victorious. The town was saved, but at what cost?

The dark alliance between the town guard and the player's group had been formed out of necessity, but it would not last. There were too many differences between them, and too much blood spilled. Eventually, they would go their separate ways, never to work together again.


By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to running a successful evil campaign. Have fun with it, and don't be afraid to get creative. The sky's the limit when it comes to villainy.

FAQ Section

death knight standing alone in the rose field with big broken swords stuck into the ground, digital art style, illustration painting

In Dungeons and Dragons, what exactly does it mean for a character to have an evil alignment?

An evil alignment is defined by a character or NPC that desires to cause harm or suffering to others. This can manifest in many different ways, from direct violence and murder to more subtle forms of manipulation and exploitation.

How can I be evil in D&D?

There are several ways you can play an evil character in D&D. One option is to be a straight-up villain who revels in causing harm and chaos. Another option is to play an anti-hero, a character who has a code of ethics but still works towards goals that others might consider evil.

You could also play a character who is simply selfish and out for their own gain, without caring about the consequences of their actions.

Whatever type of evil character you want to play, make sure you talk to your gaming group first to make sure they are comfortable with it.

How to play a chaotic evil character in D&D 5e?

There is no right way to play a chaotic evil character in D&D 5e. However, some tips on how to create and role-play a chaotic evil character include: making your character impulsive and unpredictable, focusing on self-interest and selfishness, being cruel towards others, and reveling in chaos and destruction.

How do you destroy a D&D campaign?

While there is no one sure-fire way to destroy a D&D campaign, there are several things you can do to make it more likely that your campaign will come to an end.

Some of the most common ways to ruin a campaign include: killing off major NPCs without replacement, having the players focus on infighting and bickering instead of working together, having the players repeatedly make poor decisions that lead to negative consequences, and failing to prepare for or manage major plot events properly.

In general, anything that disrupts the flow of the campaign or causes the players to lose interest can lead to the destruction of a campaign.

What is a good way in DND to run a tournament in which the players fight each other and NPCs?

The best way would be to create a bracket system where players are matched up against each other in one-on-one combat. The winner of each match would then advance to the next round until there is only one player left standing. For added fun, you could throw in some NPC opponents for the players to fight as well.

To make things fair, you could give each player an equal amount of gold to spend on gear and equipment before the tournament begins. This way, no one has an unfair advantage over the others.


Get Your Free Book

Enter your email address below and you’ll immediately receive an email with download links to my best selling novel, ForeverQuest: Online Battle Arena.

You’ll also receive regular updates about great specials, new books, additional freebies and much more…