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Shar-Teel and a study of Chaotic Evil

Howdy, I'm a new poster but a long time player and follower of the forums. I'd like to make a little dissertation to share my thoughts on a certain subject. When going Evil a lot of people tend more towards the self serving neutral evil, or the exploitative Lawful Evil, but I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding for the Chaotic side. Most people tend to think of Chaotic Evil as an alignment reserved for monsters, serial killers, or antagonistic NPCs. This isn't really the case and I'd like to use Shar-Teel as an example, and therefore make a bit more use of her, than simply slapping her with the Girdle of Masculinity and kicking her off the party for lulz.

Why is Shar-Teel such an example of a proper Chaotic Evil character? Well, lets start by understanding Chaotic Evil is not a single state. It is Chaotic, and Evil, seperately. So let's examine the Chaotic side first. Chaotic, in terms of alignment, doesn't mean you're unruly or wishing to spread bedlam by nature. It simply means you stand opposed to the laws of man and external governance, and instead follow your own personal code. Even though Shar-Teel is a Chaotic Evil character, she follows a personal warrior's code of honor so passionately that she would totally forsake the prejudices and hatred that define her character (male power and authority) and submit to a male that bested her in combat. It's also worth mentioning she will only duel the strongest male.

With this in mind it's almost feasible to say she's an 'honorable' character, which already breaks most people's conception of the alignment. Now let's talk about her Evil side by examining her past, and thus, her motives. We know from her bio that she has a hatred for men, especially Flaming Fist mercenaries, and her childhood was 'not of storybook quality'. We also know through the story her father is a corrupt Flaming Fist officer. It's easy to connect the dots here and imagine any number of scenarios that her father or male authority figures might have abused her in various ways as a child, giving her the motivation she has today.

That motivation is a very specific one, to harm or debase ("rub their nose in it" to quote her) men of power and authority. To women she is affable, and regards men she deems weak only with disgust. So let's take a step back now and look at it as a whole. We have an arguably honorable character who lives by a strict warrior's code, and who's primary motivation is to harm or debase men of power and authority as a result of her being abused.

This does not exactly encapsulate most people's predisposed notion of Chaotic Evil, and that's why I like it. Where Neutral Evil is self-serveing, and Lawful Evil is exploitative, Chaotic Evil is MOTIVATED. I think that's the crux of the alignment, is Chaotic Evil characters live by a personal set of rules, and they are motivated to accomplish goals that are evil in nature.

I'm definitely not writing this because I'm a super fan of fem-nazi Shar-Teel, but because I've been a Dungeon Master for many many years, and I love examining alignments and motivations of characters. I hope by reading this you'll be inclined to put more thought into your Chaotic Evil NPCs, or make a Chaotic Evil character of your own. I do think it's one of the more misunderstood alignments, and generally, I'm sick of everyone picking Chaotic Neutral. Thanks!

deltagoGusindaDreadKhanDJKajuruQuartz

Comments

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 4,245
    if Shar-Teel was an honorable evil warrior she would be lawful evil

    to me a chaotic evil character/creature is something that does what they want, when they want to do it

    also, intelligence i think comes into play with this as well

    dumber creatures ( INT of 9 or less ) in theory don't really come up with complex ideas or sophisticated ways of doing things, so usually when less intelligent creatures are chaotic evil, its more of the; doing what they want when they want to do it sort of thing

    now creatures with higher INT might revel more in their chaos, and they perhaps like watching those under them suffer ( demons for example ) and they can come up with malevolent ways of doing so

    and then creatures in the middle INT wise perhaps just have a thirst for power, they believe they are above the rest and they should get what they want when they want it

    now with Shar-Teel from what i recall she has high INT ( around 14 or so ) but low WIS ( around 7 or so ) so this actually can play into the "evil" part quite well, she's quick on the draw when it comes to thinking, but she doesn't learn from her actions, although with that higher INT she doesn't really seem to much at all involved with coming up with schemes, mostly because the original devs didn't think this hard about her character and a lot of joinable characters in BG 1 or pretty shallow when it comes to character development and most of this is by pure speculation

    although, when you listen to Shar-Teel's banter, she even states that she loves blood shed and if it bleeds she can kill it, and when she gets a compliment from a female she even states that flattery will get you no where

    so by that, she basically seems to hate everyone and everything, which perfectly matches a chaotic evil type attitude

    for me, in my DnD campaign that i have right now ( you start at level 1 and there is enough adventure to grow to level 5 ) the way on how i do evil creatures is thus ( for the most part ):

    lawful evil;
    these are "disciplined" baddies, baddies that will follow orders and don't care what their orders are, and if a "boss" type creature had this alignment it is very possible they they will follow the law and not break rules ever, BUT if they can find a loop hole in the system that can best tailor to their needs, then they will do so with no hesitation, in my opinion, smart evil creatures would be this alignment, because other creatures can rely on a lawful evil creature, knowing that they aren't just a wild card that is going to do whatever they damn will please, and with a lawful evil creature, you aren't going to get backstabbed from a surprise source out of no where, they creatures will warn you ahead of time, so usually my more intelligent boss baddies or "soldier/mercenary" creatures are lawful evil

    neutral evil;
    neutral evil creatures to me are creatures that are much more reserved and kind of keep to themselves but have malevolent natures, they do what they wish, at the expense of others, but they don't do it for the thrill that a chaotic evil creature would and laws and regulations don't mean anything to them whatsoever, if a neutral evil character has a goal, they will do whatever is necessary to accomplish it, if they need to burn down a village to get an ancient artifact from a priest lets say, they don't care if people live or die, it was just a quick and easy way to get what they need, in fact in the same scenario, a neutral evil creature would threaten to burn the village down if they don't give them the artifact, and once he got it, he would be on his way, while a chaotic evil creature would burn it down anyway, although the neutral evil character is not afraid to cause collateral damage if necessary, in fact Jon Irenicus is a perfect example of Neutral Evil, all he cares about is power, and he will do anything it takes to get it, but with that, he doesn't go out of his way to make others suffer because that procrastinates his goal, he would rather kill quickly and get filth out of the way, while a chaotic evil creature would rather have them suffer first of even continue to suffer

    chaotic evil:
    as i basically already said, this alignment is usually for dumb evil monsters because either a) there are no rules in their world and they do what they wish when they wish or b) if they are intelligent they are usually the most malevolent creatures wanting nothing more than making the universe suffer to their power, now on the higher power end of things ( stronger creatures ) they see themselves as above all else, and that the world should succumb to them, they make the rules and they do as they wish, and if anyone or anything objects; destroy it, i made a chaotic evil character in DnD once, the only character out of our group of friends from 20 years of PnP that became epic, Dracke the Barbarian, an 8'2" tall half-orc that had the blood of a god through his veins ( hence the reason why he was so tall, but had no other special abilities other than the fact that he was considered a large creature ) and chaos was in his viens, he welcomed chaos, he wanted to see the world burn, he wanted his power to grow, he wanted to become an unstoppable force of mass destruction, but after awhile of practically destroying the material plane, solars and angels got involved and Dracke become older and wiser, and more *focused* on his power, so when he became Epic he was involved with a council of Solars that he must change his ways or else Dracke would be hunted down for the rest of his life from the champions of good ( and even though he has killed dozens, if not 100s of divine champions, he may eventually get overwhelmed, although at this point it was more of a bluff on the Solars' end because his power was so great, even Solars were becoming equals ) so anyways, the trial was over and Dracke became Chaotic Neutral instead, but with that being said, being nice is still something he is no good at, but his lust for bloodshed has become more focused, only powerful creatures is who he is concerned about, and he will challenge anyone that gets in his way, and if he has to save a city or a plane of existence to do so, so be it, although he won't openly commit evil acts, but he doesn't object to them either

    now in the campaign im making, there is going to be one chaotic evil intelligent creature, its going to be a half-orc/half-dragon/half-fiend now i know this sounds silly, but i do have a story on how this is actually possible, actually in fact this story is the whole reason why this creature is chaotic evil;
    it is the time of the demons, and their plan it to expand their army on to the material plane but they need, someone to lead their armies on the material plane to fight against the fiends of the 9 hells, should they succeed, then the 9 hells will be wiped out

    so the most unholy of rituals will be done with "perfect - genetic - breeding" a black dragon polymorphed into a human fornicates with an orc of full demonic ancestry to create a create of absolute wickedness, but also can have the form of an accepted creature on the material plane ( magical items hide the true lineage of this creature so he just looks like a normal half-orc ) with this ritual complete, this half-orc will grow and be taught the ways on how to lead the armies of the material plane to the 9 hells, so this half-orc will grow up to become a leader of the most prominent city of the "material plane" and that is Silver City ( the capital city in my campaign who's riches would rival even Sigil ) once this half-orc has full control over this city then the plan of taking over the material plane can start

    the back story to this back story is that on the dragon side, the dragon is a financial partner with one of 2 noble houses in Silver City ( one being evil, one being neutral ) so this dragon is associated with the evil side, but tires of having to "share the wealth" sort of speak, so the dragon's plan is to be involved with the ritual to help the demons make their champion so then the dragon can corrupt the demon's champion to help further it's goals of wiping out their partners and it's competition to become the wealthiest creature of the material plane and basically rule the material plane since it would hold much of the plane's wealth, and then the demons would be forced to "work for the dragon" but the demons know of this, and have used the dragon's lust for wealth to easily get the dragon to assist them in their plans, while the demons not giving a slightest damn on the dragon's desires, and will likely no doubt kill the dragon at the opportune time for its ignorance

    so lots of evil scheming going on everywhere sort of speak

    but the joke is on everyone involved because of the mix of abyssal and draconic powers flowing through his veins, his mind has become complete corrupt, with some much magical wickedness he instead wants to destroy all the players involved for making him what he is; an abomination pretty much ( not the actual template from the epic players handbook, but just the definition of it ) and it angers him greatly that his sole purpose is to be someone else's puppet, so with that internal rage he plans to betray everyone and use his extreme powers to become a god, and destroy anything that deems itself dragon or demon or even devil and he will stop at nothing to do so, but the kicker is, he acts like he is "lawful good" and he has items on that hide his true appearance and his true alignment so the PCs won't be the wiser, so when the players hit Silver City they will have no idea whats going on, since the half-orc will be playing victim to all the craziness that will be going down

    although, the half-orc never fulfills this prophecy because the characters will stop him at level 19 ( he is the 2nd last boss fight of the non epic campaign )

    rather ironic actually, the characters will not know in the non-epic part what the true reason of this half-orc's existence was about, all they will know is that he is actually the evil one, and he is building an army to start genocide

    and now this gives me the perfect idea for the beginning of the epic game where the PCs actually find out what was truly going on the whole time and they will have to battle the "demon lord" dude that was involved with all this tom foolery

    so yeah, long story short, this is another way on how you can justify and evil character

    GusindaDreadKhanilduderino
  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 4,245
    if Shar-Teel was an honorable evil warrior she would be lawful evil

    to me a chaotic evil character/creature is something that does what they want, when they want to do it

    also, intelligence i think comes into play with this as well

    dumber creatures ( INT of 9 or less ) in theory don't really come up with complex ideas or sophisticated ways of doing things, so usually when less intelligent creatures are chaotic evil, its more of the; doing what they want when they want to do it sort of thing

    now creatures with higher INT might revel more in their chaos, and they perhaps like watching those under them suffer ( demons for example ) and they can come up with malevolent ways of doing so

    and then creatures in the middle INT wise perhaps just have a thirst for power, they believe they are above the rest and they should get what they want when they want it

    now with Shar-Teel from what i recall she has high INT ( around 14 or so ) but low WIS ( around 7 or so ) so this actually can play into the "evil" part quite well, she's quick on the draw when it comes to thinking, but she doesn't learn from her actions, although with that higher INT she doesn't really seem to much at all involved with coming up with schemes, mostly because the original devs didn't think this hard about her character and a lot of joinable characters in BG 1 or pretty shallow when it comes to character development and most of this is by pure speculation

    although, when you listen to Shar-Teel's banter, she even states that she loves blood shed and if it bleeds she can kill it, and when she gets a compliment from a female she even states that flattery will get you no where

    so by that, she basically seems to hate everyone and everything, which perfectly matches a chaotic evil type attitude

    for me, in my DnD campaign that i have right now ( you start at level 1 and there is enough adventure to grow to level 5 ) the way on how i do evil creatures is thus ( for the most part ):

    lawful evil;
    these are "disciplined" baddies, baddies that will follow orders and don't care what their orders are, and if a "boss" type creature had this alignment it is very possible they they will follow the law and not break rules ever, BUT if they can find a loop hole in the system that can best tailor to their needs, then they will do so with no hesitation, in my opinion, smart evil creatures would be this alignment, because other creatures can rely on a lawful evil creature, knowing that they aren't just a wild card that is going to do whatever they damn will please, and with a lawful evil creature, you aren't going to get backstabbed from a surprise source out of no where, they creatures will warn you ahead of time, so usually my more intelligent boss baddies or "soldier/mercenary" creatures are lawful evil

    neutral evil;
    neutral evil creatures to me are creatures that are much more reserved and kind of keep to themselves but have malevolent natures, they do what they wish, at the expense of others, but they don't do it for the thrill that a chaotic evil creature would and laws and regulations don't mean anything to them whatsoever, if a neutral evil character has a goal, they will do whatever is necessary to accomplish it, if they need to burn down a village to get an ancient artifact from a priest lets say, they don't care if people live or die, it was just a quick and easy way to get what they need, in fact in the same scenario, a neutral evil creature would threaten to burn the village down if they don't give them the artifact, and once he got it, he would be on his way, while a chaotic evil creature would burn it down anyway, although the neutral evil character is not afraid to cause collateral damage if necessary, in fact Jon Irenicus is a perfect example of Neutral Evil, all he cares about is power, and he will do anything it takes to get it, but with that, he doesn't go out of his way to make others suffer because that procrastinates his goal, he would rather kill quickly and get filth out of the way, while a chaotic evil creature would rather have them suffer first of even continue to suffer

    chaotic evil:
    as i basically already said, this alignment is usually for dumb evil monsters because either a) there are no rules in their world and they do what they wish when they wish or b) if they are intelligent they are usually the most malevolent creatures wanting nothing more than making the universe suffer to their power, now on the higher power end of things ( stronger creatures ) they see themselves as above all else, and that the world should succumb to them, they make the rules and they do as they wish, and if anyone or anything objects; destroy it, i made a chaotic evil character in DnD once, the only character out of our group of friends from 20 years of PnP that became epic, Dracke the Barbarian, an 8'2" tall half-orc that had the blood of a god through his veins ( hence the reason why he was so tall, but had no other special abilities other than the fact that he was considered a large creature ) and chaos was in his viens, he welcomed chaos, he wanted to see the world burn, he wanted his power to grow, he wanted to become an unstoppable force of mass destruction, but after awhile of practically destroying the material plane, solars and angels got involved and Dracke become older and wiser, and more *focused* on his power, so when he became Epic he was involved with a council of Solars that he must change his ways or else Dracke would be hunted down for the rest of his life from the champions of good ( and even though he has killed dozens, if not 100s of divine champions, he may eventually get overwhelmed, although at this point it was more of a bluff on the Solars' end because his power was so great, even Solars were becoming equals ) so anyways, the trial was over and Dracke became Chaotic Neutral instead, but with that being said, being nice is still something he is no good at, but his lust for bloodshed has become more focused, only powerful creatures is who he is concerned about, and he will challenge anyone that gets in his way, and if he has to save a city or a plane of existence to do so, so be it, although he won't openly commit evil acts, but he doesn't object to them either

    now in the campaign im making, there is going to be one chaotic evil intelligent creature, its going to be a half-orc/half-dragon/half-fiend now i know this sounds silly, but i do have a story on how this is actually possible, actually in fact this story is the whole reason why this creature is chaotic evil;
    it is the time of the demons, and their plan it to expand their army on to the material plane but they need, someone to lead their armies on the material plane to fight against the fiends of the 9 hells, should they succeed, then the 9 hells will be wiped out

    so the most unholy of rituals will be done with "perfect - genetic - breeding" a black dragon polymorphed into a human fornicates with an orc of full demonic ancestry to create a create of absolute wickedness, but also can have the form of an accepted creature on the material plane ( magical items hide the true lineage of this creature so he just looks like a normal half-orc ) with this ritual complete, this half-orc will grow and be taught the ways on how to lead the armies of the material plane to the 9 hells, so this half-orc will grow up to become a leader of the most prominent city of the "material plane" and that is Silver City ( the capital city in my campaign who's riches would rival even Sigil ) once this half-orc has full control over this city then the plan of taking over the material plane can start

    the back story to this back story is that on the dragon side, the dragon is a financial partner with one of 2 noble houses in Silver City ( one being evil, one being neutral ) so this dragon is associated with the evil side, but tires of having to "share the wealth" sort of speak, so the dragon's plan is to be involved with the ritual to help the demons make their champion so then the dragon can corrupt the demon's champion to help further it's goals of wiping out their partners and it's competition to become the wealthiest creature of the material plane and basically rule the material plane since it would hold much of the plane's wealth, and then the demons would be forced to "work for the dragon" but the demons know of this, and have used the dragon's lust for wealth to easily get the dragon to assist them in their plans, while the demons not giving a slightest damn on the dragon's desires, and will likely no doubt kill the dragon at the opportune time for its ignorance

    so lots of evil scheming going on everywhere sort of speak

    but the joke is on everyone involved because of the mix of abyssal and draconic powers flowing through his veins, his mind has become complete corrupt, with some much magical wickedness he instead wants to destroy all the players involved for making him what he is; an abomination pretty much ( not the actual template from the epic players handbook, but just the definition of it ) and it angers him greatly that his sole purpose is to be someone else's puppet, so with that internal rage he plans to betray everyone and use his extreme powers to become a god, and destroy anything that deems itself dragon or demon or even devil and he will stop at nothing to do so, but the kicker is, he acts like he is "lawful good" and he has items on that hide his true appearance and his true alignment so the PCs won't be the wiser, so when the players hit Silver City they will have no idea whats going on, since the half-orc will be playing victim to all the craziness that will be going down

    although, the half-orc never fulfills this prophecy because the characters will stop him at level 19 ( he is the 2nd last boss fight of the non epic campaign )

    rather ironic actually, the characters will not know in the non-epic part what the true reason of this half-orc's existence was about, all they will know is that he is actually the evil one, and he is building an army to start genocide

    and now this gives me the perfect idea for the beginning of the epic game where the PCs actually find out what was truly going on the whole time and they will have to battle the "demon lord" dude that was involved with all this tom foolery

    so yeah, long story short, this is another way on how you can justify and evil character

  • Mantis37Mantis37 Member Posts: 898
    In my opinion using alignment in terms of G vs. E and L vs. C is not a particularly useful notion when abstractly applied to describe personalities. All alignment types can be motivated or lazy, just as it's perfectly possible to have a LG cowardly peasant. There are more than 9 kinds of people after all!

    Where alignment comes alive is when Good vs. Evil and Law vs. Chaos are concepts that define characters' lives and how they interact with others as much as the left vs. right and open vs. closed axes are influencing modern society. For example Elric's relationship with the Duke of Hell Arioch helps to define him to himself & others, and causes changes in his world.

    In the case of Shar-Teel her opposition to established authority, with obvious connections to her upbringing, does indeed seem to be self-consistent. It seems that the sort of group she would support is a somewhat revolutionary or criminal one, with the proviso that eventually any such organisation would itself become the sort of authority that she opposes as she finds it hard to work within existing power structures. In her character development it's not hard to imagine her being willing to watch the world burn for greater power without knowing quite why... Sometimes a character like hers can be more in sympathy with CG types than LG on issues of social order such as Kivan's quest for vengeance, which is a bit more interesting than the usual good vs. evil dilemmas.

    DreadKhan
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,701
    I think you can largely boil alignment down as follows: good is altruistic, evil is exploitive, law is order/organization/rigidity, and chaos is disorganization/disorder/fluidity. Obviously nobody is 100% their alignment all the time, but if your trend is to be pretty altruistic, you're good. As for neutrality, I prefer to think of it as a mix, rather than a real third archtype like 2nd ed sometimes presents it as.

    Anyways, Shar-teel is not a planner, she's camped out alone in a VERY dangerous area, and she accosts people violently. This seems pretty chaotic and evil. We see similarly half-backed planning in Sarevok, despite his very high intelligence, and he is also chaotic. Irenicus is clearly a much better planner, and even Melisan is I'd argue, despite being a questionable actress. Now, CE is notoriously servile to those demonstrably more powerful, hence Shar-teel's joining up. It would be in character though to betray you very quickly if she ever has the advantage AND can profit from it, but I can see not doing so in a game like BG.

    I don't associate motivation with chaos, especially as I'd describe a tidy person who develops and executes good plans as more lawful.

  • ElysianEchoesElysianEchoes Member Posts: 231
    edited March 31


    I find this video both relevant and amusing to the subject at hand. Enjoy!

  • ilduderinoilduderino Member Posts: 128
    When BG2 first came out and I was 20 or so, I was just happy to have Imoen and Minsc back. Now I am older and wiser (and balder and greyer), I am sad that we didn’t get to know more about some of the potentially more interesting characters like Shar-Teel

    Dharius
  • QuartzQuartz Member Posts: 3,813
    I find this video both relevant and amusing to the subject at hand. Enjoy!
    Funny but painfully inaccurate.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 103
    edited April 6
    The way I normally define good vs evil/law vs chaos with regards to alignments is as follows:

    - Good characters actively enjoy helping people and easing suffering and will go out of their way to do it.
    - Evil characters actively enjoy hurting people and causing suffering and will go out of their way to do it.
    - Neutral characters can therefore help/hurt people on occasion, but usually do so for some personal reward/gratification and will not bother themselves if it involves too much effort.

    - Lawful characters plan and organize their lives, and in anticipation of working towards their goals. They are people who like to know "what to do, and how to do it". A Lawful character putting together IKEA furniture would read all of the instructions beforehand before even starting.
    - Chaotic characters dislike making plans, or other people telling them how to do things because "that's how it's done." They prefer to operate on gut instinct and improvisation, and using the IKEA furniture example, they won't even bother looking at the instructions and just dive straight in thinking that "I'll figure it out." This does not mean that Chaotic characters have no long term goals, but they usually will have no concrete plans for how to achieve it OR if they make plans, they are more than willing to throw out that plan on a whim (again) because of gut instinct or improvisation.
    - Neutral characters on the Law-Chaos axis fall somewhere in between these two extremes. The general who normally adheres to plans and strategy but, on a hunch, assigns a squad of men to watch the swamp on their flank just in case the enemy sends trolls to attack through it, would be an example of a Neutral character.

    As a result, "personal codes of honor" I feel have very little to do with whether a character is actually Lawful or Chaotic. Lawful characters TEND to adhere to them more than Chaotics do because of their nature, but such codes of conduct could just as well be motivated by morality (Good/Evil), cultural stigmas and taboos (the classic "honorable barbarian", for instance), religious vows etc.

    BelgarathMTH
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