If you step back form good and evil for a moment, because lets face it at the very least both sides are amoral. At it's essence it is stasis vs chaos. The empire is in stasis, not moving forward always staying the same. Chaos is pure change or potential as lets face it the warp is shaped by emtions etc, so Chaos it's self is the chance for pure potential....however the big 4 gods are almost fixed and form a stasis of their own (other than maybe Tezentch) they have become fixed concepts. Yes they have the ability to change and mutate etc, however their core concepts are in fact fixed and are almost anathma to the warp itself.
The Chaos gods could be discribed a a pervertion or corruption of the warp. So theoreticly the warp is not a problem, the problems always start when people interact with it and their own selfish emotions and thoughts are made manifest in them through madness or mutation. Eventually leading to that persons downfall (be it death, madness, turning into a mewling chaos spawn or becoming a parody of it's self in daemonhood.) I think that most of the problem is that static beings of the real world can't comprehend the warp without going nuts.
So really our chaos worshipping 'hero' is very much shaped by his own desires and emotions that are then amplified by the warp. I think there is where we can find our realistic 'evil'
Imagine if you are a freedom fighter trying to take down an opressive empire, you get followers and will do anything to change thigs for the better. You turn to Chaos... slowly you become more and more to follow the ends justify the means and you enjoy the bossing people around. Slowly but surly you become a characature of your self you demand obedience and worship, you start to destroy all humanity as they still follow the empire and if they don't see things your way they are obviously lackies or the empire and you become a monster. All the time you have corrupted yourself, the warp dosn't care it's just supercharging you, your flaws and your strengths. Your daemonhood is your own ego raising you, unless of course you devote yourself to a god then you are the kind of person that needs approval/to worship/belive in somthing bigger.
And they shall know a sensible amount of fear.
Pretty good I'd say!
I liked your points about the Chaos gods themselves - very true that they have become quite static in their own right, but that essentially chaos is impossible for humans to comprehend - a cosmic truth too twisted to fully realise. I think your analogy about 'freedom fighters' as opposed to 'terrorists' reveals the way in which a chaos cultist would most likely see themselves.
Principles like freedom from oppressive laws, freedom of speech, even freedom of worship are things we take for granted - in the 41st Millenium desiring these things will pretty quickly get you labelled a heretic - so, from here it is easy to see why humans get lured into worshipping chaos, and descend in the way you have suggested. In that sense you are also right to say there is no simple good / evil here - and that creating that uncertainty is key to playing and enjoying this role-play game (well, maybe not the only reason!).
I actually think that Tzeentch has become quite static himself. He has the ability to see everyt possible strands of future except his own. And he is consumed with knowing his own future, since he doesn't know his role in it. This leads to his attempts of manipulating said future, which in turn mutates them into something he did not foresee.
So maybe he can't really know the future since he's incapable of looking beyond his own involvement.
I won't have to outrun the lion. I only have to outrun you.
This might be of interest. Sure, it's fan-fiction, but the Traitor Marine that shows up as the antagonist about halfway through has very good characterization while being a complete monster. Well worth a read if you have the time.
Adam France said: The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions. I'm not saying I only allow whiter than white hero-types, but setting out to play only villains ... I've never seen it work well - unless all you're after is a no-holds barred hack 'em up. In which case, yeah it can work - but it's pretty basic and quickly tiresome fare imo. YMMV I suppose.
The problem with playing the bad guy in an rpg is that ... well essentially none of us can really get inside their heads, like we can with a more traditional good guy - even a borderline roguish good guy. Too often it just becomes a cardboard cut-out villain who gets to basically 'do whatever they want'. It doesn't make for good campaigns in my experience. It's short-termist, and parties usually end up locked in internecine warfare amongst themselves, or just hacking down anyone they feel like - while ignoring any planned missions.
I'm not saying I only allow whiter than white hero-types, but setting out to play only villains ... I've never seen it work well - unless all you're after is a no-holds barred hack 'em up. In which case, yeah it can work - but it's pretty basic and quickly tiresome fare imo. YMMV I suppose.
None of us? You sure? Because sometimes I wrap my head around the logic of people like Hitler, Stalin or Mengele just to be able to piss people off by arguing why what they did where completely justifiable and morally right. So chaos shouldn’t be a problem for me then. So clearly not all of us have that problem.
Surendering to the void of chaos and despair brings peace of mind.
We all have the capacity to become "bad guys" - what's keeping us away from that is our individual sense of morality. Many people are able to theoretically "rescind" it for the purpose of writing or playing in novels/movies/theatre pieces or, of course, for roleplaying, simply by pondering about "what if" situations and trying to peek into a different mindset than their own rather than playing themselves. Though this somehow makes it sound more complicated than it really is, I guess. Either way, I had lots of fun playing my drow, and look forward of getting into a vaguely similar mindset again with Black Crusade.
When you think about it, 40k has no "good guys" anyways. Only evil and the lesser evil. The few good souls that exist usually further the goal of one of the aforementioned evils and generally don't live long as their environment doesn't really value it.
current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine
Good portrayal of bad guys huh...
Elric from the Elric novels...for sorcerer of chaos archetypes.
Similarly Jagreen Lern, the theocrat of Chaos in the series could be used for a base for a maniacal Word Bearer or Thousand sons sorcerer.
Ozymandias from the Watchmen, the enemy within with the razor sharp intellect and puppet master who has established a web of influence and covered all his bases quite well, quite the Kaiser Sozé. Inspiration for a cult magus who has devoted one self to the changer of ways.
Moriarty - the professor of crime and Sherlock Homes' counter
V from V for Vendetta -an antihero determined to bring down the establishment. Imagine the WH40K equivalent with the equivalent of influence/resources of an inquisitor.
Nemesis the Warlock from the 2000AD comic series which kind of riffed on the Moorcockian theme anyway.
King John - possibly one of the worst kings from English history (lost English territories in the north of France to the French, excommunicated by the Papal States, amongst others), recently protrayed in the Robin Hood movie. Easily inspiration for a power mad warlord who has the aspirations of a petty tyrant, the moral scruples of a rodent and who has given self over to the ruinous powers.
Richard the Lionheart - A king who although epitomised as courageous and wise was overlooked for being ruthless, cold-blooded and for lack of a better word a psychopath who really didn't like his subjects. How about a renegade astartes who was revered as such a wise and courageous saviour of the people he comes to liberate, but behind the scenes is an absolute fiend - pick any chapter/legion who fled from the bastion of the Imperium.
All the 'heros' from the Joe Abacombe books. Glocta is The Inquisitors Inquisitor. The mage the swords man in fact the whole lot of them, i think the only characters that come out in any way decent people are Shivers and the Bloody Nine, thats a barbarian merc and a frothing bezerker, in fact the Bloody Nine would be a very good archtype for a Khornite who you could actualy play and have fun roleplaying. If you havn't read The Blade Itself, Then they will hang or the last argument of kings, shame on you! :)
And they shall know a sensible amount of fear.
Good portrayals of the Bad Guy...
I like Christopher Walken as Frank White in King of New York. He gets out of jail, goes back into town and starts crushing all the competition, then he starts funding hospitals and whatnot. Maybe Slaanesh?
And how about Al Pacino in The Godfather? There's a story of a guy who was basically a decent man but one born into a twisted family, and he spends his entire life trying to get out of it, and along the way he does plenty of bad things. Most people feel a fair amount of sympathy for the character of Michael Corleone, who is of course, a mobster.
And while I'm on the mafia thing, how about Tony Soprano? These are iconic characters, cemented in our imagination, and they are the bad guys. They kill, they take advantage of others, they manipulate, but they have their reasons which, on the face of things, people can identify with even if they might never imagine themselves in those situations.
Finally, one of my favorite villains, the Joker in The Dark Knight. There's a follower of Tzeentch right there.
i think a good protrayal of a chaos marine would be Gary olmans dracula, A knight who feels betrayed by his god therfore turning to the gods enemies
victory attained through violence is a victory indeed, but when the enemy turns on itself thats is the essence of true lasting victory kor phaeron, master of the faith
Going along with this, the Imperium's goal is to wipe out all other races and one day rule all they can see (well, get to) under an iron fist. I think it's just as corrupting and terrible as the "our greatest plan is to dissolve the entirety of the universe" plan. I think that Chaos is more about principle and ideals than the Imperium if Chaos infiltrated the other races (i've been told that some Orcs have gone to the Chaos side but it's debatable) that they would welcome the followers and let them fight alongside them in combat. While the Imperium wants only humans all the time. Yes, their are sanctioned Xenos but this is only on a one being at a time schedule. If a large enough chunk of the Tau, or whoever, started to praise Tzeentch and became Chaos infused Tau than I doubt that the Chaos legions would care. They might be only on the front lines fighting as canon fodder but they would still be used and may one day have a seat at Abaddon's table.
"It's just mind over matter; if you don't mind than what does it matter."
Hmm… good examples of well “good” bad guys. I find one of the easiest things to just flip the viewpoints of characters and already you get some fun examples of “good” guys that are bad guys. So let’s see, you have a totalitarian regime that uses fear as a weapon to pacify its population; they have weapons capable of leveling entire planets and are ruled by an incredibly powerful psychic power wielding Emperor. Fighting against them is a rag tag group of outcasts and misfits…a precious few (although later there will be more) of which armed with similar psychic powers. But they use their powers for “freedom” and “peace” as they see it. I dare say the Rebel Alliance is a pretty good example of a good bad guy. (That and well Vader sort of looks like he has a marine helmet…kinda)
Of course another idea is just to simply remove yourself from a human’s moral mindset. Take for example the aliens in well “Alien.” They were merely creatures looking for food/to set up a nest. I don’t know if you RP the mind set of a demon or an alien race but that might not be a bad direction to go either just remove the humanity part from it and you’re not evil, you’re just doing your thing to survive.
Of course…you could just run a nihilist mindset as well. The galaxy, or at least humanity is a cancer that must be purged. The death and suffering they’ve caused through their history, the number of races exterminated…this just should not be allowed to be. Think of any character from something who was part of the system then fights against it…that makes a good “bad” guy. The one who’s seen how messed up it is, and just wants to tear it all down. If you can keep from getting too morose with it, it can be a blast.
As an aside…one of the things I really love about RPGs is playing, or trying to play as best I can, someone or something that is incredibly far removed from who I am as a person. I get to be me all the time…for fun I like thinking like someone who’s distinctly NOT me. I like acting, so that might be part of it, I like trying to figure out the head of the other, understanding it and copying it well enough to pass as that thing believably. I figure the more I know about what I’m not the more I’ll know about what I am…even in a game.
Tl,dr: The best way to play a bad guy: don’t play a bad guy, just play a guy.
Heh, made me remember this picture...
Hmm, idk - I think one of the most interesting things is that there likely is no wrong way to portray a servant of Chaos, as its followers cover the entire range from misguided visionaries to antisocial maniacs. I would advise against making characters look "too good", though, as in the end Chaos is utterly corrupting and everything comes with a price. Even a charismatic anti-hero should have a dark and tainted side which he only exerts when he thinks he can afford it. In the end, I think all that matters is motivation. Let your characters have a reason for what they do ... even if it's just the enjoyment of the suffering of others.
current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine
Magneto would also be a good example of a "good" badguy...
"A dirty mind is a joy forevera terrible thing to waste"
"Innocence Proves Nothing"
For me, the Orks are more "Chaotic" than any disciple of the Dark Four. No agenda, no goal except berserk violence and carnage...
"Look up and move on. Because you'll become jealous or frightened if you look to your sides or below you. Be the one who looks up. The one who'll look at the stars beyond. Stargazer..."