I am a student of philosophy and psychology. Perhaps more of a hobbyist.

Let’s just say that motivations interest me.

And so I have experimented with different character motivations for as long as I have played the game — for the last ten years. Not long after I got started on 3e D&D in 2003, my friend ran an “Evil campaign,” so we could “do it right.”

I had heard of so-called “Evil” campaigns but there was nothing interesting to me about razing villages to the ground and robbing or murdering fellow party members. There was nothing evil about that — it was “selfish.”

Not to mention stupid.

My first Evil character was a devil, an Erinyes from the 3e Monster Manual. She was uncomplicated as far as characters go — she wanted to return to the Nine Hells to pick up where she left off, tempting mortals and whatnot.

Wherever she could, she took the easy way out. It only made sense.

I created several characters within a “family” of devils — the Erinyes seduced and blackmailed various characters, and I built an assassin devil that bullied, extorted, and murdered other characters. And I got kind of bored with the experience.

After that, I became obsessed with playing Good characters.

I built a Vow of Poverty psychic who relied on absolutely nothing but his own mind and gave everything away to charity. I played Good cleric after cleric, and dared GMs and players alike to rob me, deceive me, betray me, and tempt me.

I played PCs who cared nothing for wealth and refused to kill.

Of course, I refused to play characters with families because most GMs are stupid and will either ignore family outright or threaten them or kill them — there’s no using them for contacts, or support. They’re just cannon fodder.

Recently, I played a dragonborn warlord called The Manticore as a parody of another player’s character who claimed to be Good. I played that character as utterly “Ruthless Good,” doing exactly what the other player had done…

…Except that I never killed anything but monsters, in fact I only ever killed kobolds and dragon-kin — and I never endangered the party with my shenanigans. Nothing I did brought harm to the rest of the party or went against their express wishes or desires. I played a jerk — but also a team player.

I didn’t kill anything but my character’s “own kind” — “irredeemable villains.”

I only rarely saw another player with a character coming close to the same level of conviction — I knew the worst that could possibly happen to any of my characters for pushing the envelope, and I did so without fear.

What did any of it matter? It was just a game.

This kind of behavior in real life would be considered antisocial — and I realized that all of my characters, Good or Evil — were antisocial and self-destructive. I felt like no decision my characters made mattered in the least.

And a lot of that had to do with the fact that the only way to advance in the game of D&D is to constantly endanger one’s life in mortal combat.

The more dangerous, the better! You get more XPs and more loot by fighting bigger and badder monsters! That’s how you get ahead in the game! There is no alignment mechanic that can repair a system of “advancement by murder.”

That is why XP should be awarded for treasure and not combat.