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Author Topic: Being evil in games is hard?  (Read 619 times)

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Offline Spear80Topic starter

Being evil in games is hard?
« on: September 15, 2017, 02:20:55 AM »
I love Roleplaying games, and i know it's in the name. You're playing a Role, but its still me, that gets the manly feels as i play.

My first experience with RPGs was with Baldur's Gate, with it being D&D ruled, you'd were allowed to chose your allignment, and due to lots of expermenting, (a 4 Hp, mage, with 2 spells, didn't seem feasible at the time) the first character that got any traction was Chaotic evil, she ended up saving puppies and kitten and not accepting rewards from people she'd helped, she was very popular, not very evil.

The same thing with the original and best fallouts, not so much an alignment choice, but people loved my character, raiders and mutants not so much.

Time and progressing power move on, and you come to the Mass effects, for instance. And they can actually show your tears tracking down a woman's face as she's pleading for you to find her daughter's murderer. Try and take a reward from her, or tell her off!. I could do renegade interups and boot someone through a 100 story window, or jab electrodes into a guys back, but not tell the above mother to man up. And i haven't even started about in character friends that had been with me since game 1, to this day i have never betrayed those.

It just doesn't come naturally to me, i recently bought Tyranny, and you're basically an underminion to an evil overlord, you'd think that would get me to give a a go, but no. I do kill people, kicked one of a tower even, but they're evil. The common folk need not fear me.

Anyone else got the same,...issue?


Offline DelightfullyMAD

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 02:45:38 AM »
Yeah, this issue has been a thing in role playing games since the hobby began.  The problem, I think, is that most roleplaying games, even the good ones, don't really allow you to be "Evil" per se, rather they let you be "Crazy".

The main issue, at least for me, is that I think most game developers don't really know how to write for truly evil characters.  And to be fair, that's a very good problem to have, since if it were easy, that would be rather concerning.  But because of that, the options they do give you are so over the top that it ceases to be evil, and instead just becomes insanity, which is different.

One of the few games I ever played which actually gave you some pretty good true evil options was Planescape: Torment.  Wonderful game in it's own right, and while it certainly had it's share of Stupid Evil options, it also had many other, much more subtle options.  But more than that, truly playing a realistic evil character requires you to be able to truly justify your evil actions, and justify them in a way that could actually have a decent case.  Even the most evil people in the world didn't actually think of themselves as evil, people don't wake up in the morning and think "How many puppies should I kill today?"  Unfortunately, realistic evil is actually not all that interesting for stories, but more to the point, if you wrote in options for a truly and intelligently evil character, that character would probably be OP.

In regards to your character being Chaotic Evil yet going out and saving puppies and kitties, well, you could always spin it so that your character is intelligently evil.  After all, if you just went around and acted like how most people play Chaotic Evil (often poorly), your party would be ended pretty quick.  So instead, you build up good publicity in order to buffer yourself and your reputation in the eyes of the public... all while proceeding to slake your evil lusts and desires on slaves you have shipped in from elsewhere.  Or perhaps even something as simple as just taking an unhealthy amount of pleasure in the slaughter of your foes, even if those foes are, themselves, evil.

Overall, though, in regards to your issue, yes I think it's something that many role players struggle with.  For the most part, being at least somewhat altruistic is a fundamental part of human nature, and a non-psychopathic person trying to act like a psychopath in games is likely to be clumsy at best.  Which, of course, leads to players playing evil like morons, or failing at being evil altogether, because trying to do so in a believable way is instinctively uncomfortable, so we seek refuge in audacity.

Sorry, this was probably way more long winded than it needed to be :P

Offline midnightblack

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 03:10:41 AM »
I could never manage the evil part in crpgs either, though I think I only ever really played the Black Isle classics. At least in Baldur's Gate 1, the evil line offered no real reward and was downright stupid at times, as mentioned above. Which is a shame given that Sarevok remains to this day one of the more interesting villains out there.

Writing evil characters for other people is always fun though.  :P

Offline RedRose

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2017, 11:22:20 AM »
I can read/Watch/write evil no problem, BUT I can't handle hurt children or animals.

The key might be to give a deep background to your character and not to just see him as "evil", but as trying to accomplish something..

Offline Oniya

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2017, 12:29:40 PM »
Honestly, I have had the most trouble with two alignments - or at least the players that attempt them:  Chaotic Evil and Lawful Good.  CE is pretty easy to see the issues when someone is trying to play it 'correctly' - the character will do something completely unexpected for the simple reason of 'But it's EEEEEEEEvillllll!'  We're trying to get information for the next bit of fabulous-loot-dungeon-crawl, and the character back-stabs the hapless farmer that was telling us about the local dragon legend.  *sigh*  Now none of the villagers will give us the time of day, sell us supplies, let us spend the night at the inn - never mind give us dragon info.

LG can be almost as bad.  Sneak into a fortification of orcs?  Lie to the kobolds that have captured the party?  *pfft*  The LG character must take them on - single-handedly if necessary - in 'up front, honorable combat'.

The other seven standard alignments are at least easier to deal with (although a pure neutral can be a pain if they try to play absolute Balance.  'Oh, we've taken out the Lords of Chaos.  Welp, time to take out the Lords of Law now.')  Lawful Evil can even be kinda fun.  I mostly main CG's or CN's. 

Offline DelightfullyMAD

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2017, 02:08:47 PM »
Yeah, I find those two alignments are often the most trouble, both playing myself, and dealing with players playing them.  The problem, I think, often stems from players feeling like they have to adhere to the alignment religiously.  I think just about any DM has horror stories involving players who try and play a paladin (or a similarly Lawful Good character), and play the character as if law must be obeyed no matter what.  This, of course, leads to absurd situations where the character flat out refuses to do the practical thing, because that would be breaking the law, ignoring the fact that Lawful characters don't necessarily have to be law abiding citizens in the strictest sense, but instead follow their own code of conduct.

Chaotic Evil, on the other hand, is the one alignment I flat our refuse to let players play in my games.  Almost nobody I have ever gamed with has ever played it well, and I think that is in part due to the fact that such an alignment runs so contrary to most peoples nature that it is just too alien to try and play such an alignment consistently.  So instead, most people play it so over the top that it ceases to be evil and is just disruptive.  More than any other alignment, Chaotic Evil is just not meant for players, as the very nature of it pretty much makes it so you can't play nice with others.  When the goal of an rpg is to have fun with a group (at least in tabletop), Chaotic Evil runs contrary to that.  Sure it can be amusing for a session or two, but a Chaotic Evil character will quickly annoy the crap out of everybody else.

One of the changes I liked about 4e (one of the very few things I liked) was that they did away with True Neutral and instead just called it unaligned.  That makes it easier to play, since unaligned characters are more free to be just normal people, most of whom would likely fall into the unaligned alignment, rather than having to pursue some nebulous concept of balance.  Hell, earlier editions of D&D actually had True Neutral as being an alignment where the character could change allegiances at the drop of a hat, just to keep things "fair".

This is one of the reasons I tend not to use the alignment system when I can avoid it.  Most of my Pathfinder games have done away with alignment, and alignment specific spells were changed to instead work in more specific ways.  For example, the spell Circle of Protection from Evil/Good/Law/Chaos was instead changed to target more specific entities, so instead it was Circle of Protection from Devils/Demons/Angels etc.  Instead of alignment, I instead had players pick four descriptive words to give basic definition to their character, two positive, two negative.  They could, of course, choose more, but four was the basic limit.  My group found this a bit more liberating, as it gave them a better framework for character creation, one which both gave stricter limits, yet looser limits as well.

Offline Cold Heritage

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2017, 10:39:16 PM »
I don't have a problem being "puppy-kicker" evil in games anymore beyond the whole "you get a suckier reward and/or it locks you out of an objectively superior game route/character."

Like in Baldur's Gate. There's no evil equivalent to the Holy Avenger.

Quote
The problem, I think, often stems from players feeling like they have to adhere to the alignment religiously. I think just about any DM has horror stories involving players who try and play a paladin (or a similarly Lawful Good character), and play the character as if law must be obeyed no matter what.  This, of course, leads to absurd situations where the character flat out refuses to do the practical thing, because that would be breaking the law, ignoring the fact that Lawful characters don't necessarily have to be law abiding citizens in the strictest sense, but instead follow their own code of conduct.

On the flip side, I think just about any player has horror stories involving DMs who try and trap paladins into guaranteed falling. You can tell the old ones because they have stories about rangers falling too.

But that's also the thing about the Paladin. They're not just Lawful Good, they're Paladins following the Paladin's Code Lawful Good. Doing the practical, pragmatic thing isn't for Paladins. They've literally got a higher calling than that. It's something that I don't think the Player's Handbook doesn't really communicate well - not in AD&D2e, not 3e, not 4e, and not 5e. The Complete Paladin's Handbook does a pretty great job of it.

Offline DelightfullyMAD

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2017, 07:56:54 PM »
Quote
On the flip side, I think just about any player has horror stories involving DMs who try and trap paladins into guaranteed falling. You can tell the old ones because they have stories about rangers falling too.

But that's also the thing about the Paladin. They're not just Lawful Good, they're Paladins following the Paladin's Code Lawful Good. Doing the practical, pragmatic thing isn't for Paladins. They've literally got a higher calling than that. It's something that I don't think the Player's Handbook doesn't really communicate well - not in AD&D2e, not 3e, not 4e, and not 5e. The Complete Paladin's Handbook does a pretty great job of it.

Yeah, I definitely have more than a few of those.  One of the problems with gaming, unfortunately.  The GM does have the responsibility of trying to make things balanced and to not put their players in situations in which they are meant to fail.  That does not, of course, mean the DM shouldn't put the players in tough situations in which characters which function by a very strict code (Paladins, some clerics) in which those characters may have to make a choice on how to act.  I think the main problem that was brought up is when a player playing a paladin goes out of their way to play up their Lawful Good aspect to a truly absurd degree.

Having a higher calling is perfectly fine, and there are plenty of situations where a player playing their paladin adhering to their standards even if it may not be the most practical is just fine.  More than fine, actually, since such a character, if played well, can bring a great deal of drama and suspense to a scene with that sort of character.  However, I simply see too many players portraying a paladin and adhering to their code as if they were playing with a character who is rocking an Intelligence of 4, or barely sentient.  These are the kinds of players who will arrest the party rogue because he jaywalked, or will stride right up to the villain in the middle of town and challenge them to a duel, even if a better solution to dealing with said villain is both present and obvious.  The paladin code doesn't typically specify that the paladin has to put everything at risk because they assume that the only method of dealing with the villain is a straight one-on-one duel in the town square.

Back to the playing evil topic, I definitely think the best evil characters are the ones with complex motivations.  Like I said before, very few people who aren't utterly insane wake up in the morning and think about how evil they are or what sorts of evil things they want to do.  Frankly, a good evil character is one who, upon being called out, will respond with a very sincere and offended "Who, me?" reaction when called out.  The idea that they might actually be evil should come as news to them, because as far as they were concerned, they were doing good.

Offline RedRose

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2017, 07:07:40 AM »

Back to the playing evil topic, I definitely think the best evil characters are the ones with complex motivations.  Like I said before, very few people who aren't utterly insane wake up in the morning and think about how evil they are or what sorts of evil things they want to do.  Frankly, a good evil character is one who, upon being called out, will respond with a very sincere and offended "Who, me?" reaction when called out.  The idea that they might actually be evil should come as news to them, because as far as they were concerned, they were doing good.

Of course. L'enfer, c'est les autres.

Offline Drake Valentine

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Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2017, 08:21:57 AM »
Being evil in games is easy. It just usually the equivalent of 'hard mode' for most games.

And a lot of games really don't offer much freedom in being evil, even some of the classical franchises such as Baldur's Gate series and Neverwinter.

I dunno, their paths just seem rather lenient.

Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick was fun in being Evil character; I mean, if you can get pass all the bugs and whatnot of that game. Plus it was pretty easy to make OP character types cause game was lacking some balance issues....

Well, lets be honest, the game was lacking a lot of balance issues.

I think you could also play evil pretty well in one of the Shadowrun games.

Of course it was easy to be Evil in Fable series as well and you start looking pretty demonic niffy.

Offline DelightfullyMAD

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2017, 05:09:07 PM »
Being evil in games is easy. It just usually the equivalent of 'hard mode' for most games.

And a lot of games really don't offer much freedom in being evil, even some of the classical franchises such as Baldur's Gate series and Neverwinter.

I dunno, their paths just seem rather lenient.

Arcanum of Steamworks and Magick was fun in being Evil character; I mean, if you can get pass all the bugs and whatnot of that game. Plus it was pretty easy to make OP character types cause game was lacking some balance issues....

Well, lets be honest, the game was lacking a lot of balance issues.

I think you could also play evil pretty well in one of the Shadowrun games.

Of course it was easy to be Evil in Fable series as well and you start looking pretty demonic niffy.

Aw man, I loved Arcanum.  It's so upsetting that the game could have been so much more than it was (which was already great) if Activision hadn't screwed them over.  One of my favorite methods of evil in that game was the fact that you could in fact kill important NPCs, then raise their spirits in order to still garner the information you wanted out of them.  There were only a few points in the game where you could actually do that, but according to the developers, they had intended for that mechanic to be a lot more useful than it was, had they managed to actually finish the game.  Such a lost opportunity, and as far as I know, no other rpgs have given quite that sort of option to players, at least not ones I've played.

As for Fable, that was definitely one of those games where it had so much promise, but I just feel like they failed to deliver.  Being evil in that game, at least the first one, tended to revolve more around just being an asshole rather than actually evil, though there were a few points where you could do actually heinous things.  Mostly though, I earned most of my evil points in that game by just going to the school and farting in front of the kids :P.  Hardly Machiavellian, but it played a large role in me going full Sith Lord.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2017, 07:03:15 AM »
I think evil is a matter of perspective, and it's easier to judge an 'evil' action from a secondary viewpoint. From the viewpoint of the character committing the action, it might be better viewed as 'selfish'. Will this action benefit me the most?

I'm running EvilCorp Industries. Some worthless peasants are sitting on land with substantial resources that I could develop for serious money. I've tried being reasonable, but they don't want to sell up. I still want those resources. They're worth far more to me than the peasants. I could bring in the lawyers, but that would take time and money, and probably quite a lot of it. Or I could arrange a few ... accidents ... for those most visibly opposing my plans. Faster. Cheaper. Easier. Especially if I go through a few cut outs so there's nothing to link me to it.

A few accidents later, the land is mine, and all is right once more with the world.

Or if I want to stay on the more lawful side of evil, I buy up a majority interest in that little bank they all use, and due to changing financial circumstances, all those loans they have are suddenly coming due. Terrible shame, wherever will they get that cash influx they need now?

Being evil isn't that hard to play. You just need the right mindset.

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Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2017, 07:11:13 AM »

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2017, 07:41:04 AM »

Offline Beorning

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2017, 03:41:50 PM »
I admit I don't have much problem with playing LG. But that's because I'm kind of LG in real life :)

As for evil, I love writing villains, but somehow, I could never *play* a villain. I can get into the mindset all right... it's just it disturbs me. Also, I'd feel about the stuff my evil characters would do...

But one day, I'll try it, just for kicks...

EDIT: Something I thought: I see the "villain thinks he's not a villain" approach to playing evil people... This is a good advice, but I'd also say that there is another type of villain to play: a psychopath. A psychopath not in the sense of them stabbing people randomly - but someone who really is unable to even apply moral judgement to their actions. Such characters wouldn't necessarily be feeling justified to do extreme things etc. - they'd simply be selfish enough not to care.

As for CE characters, I'd say that the problem with people playing them comes from the misundersting that specific alignment. Yes, CE characters have no conscience and act on their whims - but they don't have to be stupid about it. I really don't think a properly-RPed CE character would just kill an useful informant. This would not be CE, but simple insanity.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 08:43:22 PM by Beorning »

Offline midnightblack

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2017, 09:32:24 PM »
Quote
As for CE characters, I'd say that the problem with people playing them comes from the misundersting that specific alignment. Yes, CE characters have no conscience and act on their whims - but they don't have to be stupid about it. I really don't think a properly-RPed CE character would just kill an useful informant. This would not be CE, but simple insanity.

As far as I recall, the Chaotic Evil alignment was associated at least lore-wise with dim-witted goblinoids and such. Creatures that don't really see past the blunt end of the club and the skull they need to bash in. Any individual with the vaguest trace of intellectual amplitude would stick to lawful/neutral evil as there would be some kind of motivation behind his actions, aside of the moment's impulse. Unless we are discussing sheer insanity, as previously noted. At least with the race choices available in vanilla Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, it would have been rather hard to create a believable chaotic evil character, ruling out the insanity factor. Later on they added half-orcs and I guess that would make more sense for a believable character with uncontrollable violent tendencies. 

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Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2017, 10:51:33 PM »
CE is player shorthand for firebomb throwing anarchist or the Joker unfortunately.

I prefer to play them as manipulative lying backstabbers only interested in following their own agenda. If he goes in with a partner fine, but if his agenda is furthered by throwing that guy in front of a carriage and pinning the robbery on a corpse then why not.

Offline Cold Heritage

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2017, 11:08:31 PM »
As far as I recall, the Chaotic Evil alignment was associated at least lore-wise with dim-witted goblinoids and such. Creatures that don't really see past the blunt end of the club and the skull they need to bash in. Any individual with the vaguest trace of intellectual amplitude would stick to lawful/neutral evil as there would be some kind of motivation behind his actions, aside of the moment's impulse.   

Chaotic Evil is also the Alignment of certain creatures of the Lower Planes who have intelligence but are indelibly created to embody a certain nature.

I also think that it's really easy to believe that a high level cleric or wizard would venture into CE territory quite easily. The latter especially since they aren't dependent upon a patron for their considerable powers. By the time a wizard is into a double-digit level they'll have the intelligence to do whatever it is that they want, and relatively few individuals with the power and intelligence to stop them.

Offline Beorning

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 04:30:25 AM »
As far as I recall, the Chaotic Evil alignment was associated at least lore-wise with dim-witted goblinoids and such. Creatures that don't really see past the blunt end of the club and the skull they need to bash in. Any individual with the vaguest trace of intellectual amplitude would stick to lawful/neutral evil as there would be some kind of motivation behind his actions, aside of the moment's impulse. Unless we are discussing sheer insanity, as previously noted. At least with the race choices available in vanilla Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, it would have been rather hard to create a believable chaotic evil character, ruling out the insanity factor. Later on they added half-orcs and I guess that would make more sense for a believable character with uncontrollable violent tendencies.

Well, I'm in no way a D&D expert, but CE is also the alignment of demons. And demons can be much more intelligent than goblins.

CE is player shorthand for firebomb throwing anarchist or the Joker unfortunately.

I prefer to play them as manipulative lying backstabbers only interested in following their own agenda. If he goes in with a partner fine, but if his agenda is furthered by throwing that guy in front of a carriage and pinning the robbery on a corpse then why not.

That I like :)

As for the Joker - players should take note that even the Joker makes plans and isn't stupid.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2017, 10:49:11 AM »

Offline Oniya

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2017, 11:59:24 AM »
As for the Joker - players should take note that even the Joker makes plans and isn't stupid.

That does depend on the interpretation of the Joker - there were times that I remember the Joker did do something really stupid with the rationale that doing the smart alternative (which probably involved finally ridding himself of Batman) 'wouldn't have been funny'.

Offline DiktatrSquid

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2017, 12:06:33 PM »
For me it takes a certain kind of character.

I find it hard to be evil for the sake of being evil. I do playthroughs on more or less good characters most of the time because I sympathise with the NPCs or other PCs so much. MMO rp is the same thing. I remember one of my oldest characters that was supposed to be nothing short of a monster, because of the simple explanation that he "went mad". In the end, it took one weak and pitiable but likable and relatable character near him, that his demeanour changed a lot. While remaining brutal he obtained an ounce of compassion, and ironically became a more complex and credible character in the long run. Mind you, this was during the time of my earlier RP days.

Nowadays I have a character on whom I ENJOY being vile and cruel, whom I have both in scripted RPGs and in other RP. And I suppose the main reason to the difference in enjoyment is that she has more of a reason to it than "she's sadistic". What she has become is a combination of the harsh environment of her upbringing, her inquisitive mind that takes no words at face value. This could have taken her into a much more benevolent direction, but the circumstances of her youth led her into opposite conclusions in the end.

On top of that, in the end it's not all that fun and creative for me to go the type of evil that just kills everything in sight cus evil. I can flesh her heinousness more effectively and enjoyably by basing her image on what she does to adversaries she doesn't kill. For example, tormenting them to a point that they'll want to end themselves, driving completely ordinary people into doing terrible things just in the fear of her wrath. She might do something that could be perceived as honourable and merciful, if it benefits her in the long run, but being cruel or even murderous is not something she'd regret. Nor would she shy away from it due to trivial and made up things such as "ethics". Every action is calculated and has its own twisted, considered reason behind it besides "she's evil". This makes her feel intelligent and powerful for me, as opposed to a murderous maniac just out for the blood is just a crazy wretch that is easily very lacking in charisma.

In conclusion, I could say that even if you want to make the most hateful and disgusting character there is, there needs to be something in said character that still intrigues you and gets your admiration as an individual thing. For the woman in the example, it's her cunning, intellect, knowledge when to use the power she does have (she has weaknesses of course), and desicions or solutions that people don't expect, but when they think on it and her reasons, they ultimately realize it makes sense.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 12:37:05 PM by DiktatrSquid »

Offline Drake Valentine

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Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2017, 07:58:19 PM »
Lawful Evil abides to their own laws/morality code and are often the most successful evils.
Neutral Evil is merely out to promote their own selfish gain/interests.
Chaotic Evil generally does whatever the hell they want with no care towards law, order, life, and goodness.

LE - The Punisher, Magneto, Doctor Doom, Darth Vader, Predators(creatures from Predator Vs Alien)
NE - Loki(DC/Marvel), The Kingpin, Deadpool in his first appearance, Normon Osborn(Green Goblin he is CE, as Iron Patriot he is LE), Boba Fett.
CE - The Joker,  Venom(Spider-man), Apocalypse(X-Men),  Darth Maul

Offline DiktatrSquid

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2017, 08:05:32 PM »
Quite well and good there. Thing is though, I don't concern myself with the alignment first. I build the character, and only after I might identify which alingment slot could they go to.

Offline Beorning

Re: Being evil in games is hard?
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2017, 08:16:10 PM »
LE - The Punisher, Magneto, Doctor Doom, Darth Vader, Predators(creatures from Predator Vs Alien)
NE - Loki(DC/Marvel), The Kingpin, Deadpool in his first appearance, Normon Osborn(Green Goblin he is CE, as Iron Patriot he is LE), Boba Fett.
CE - The Joker,  Venom(Spider-man), Apocalypse(X-Men),  Darth Maul

Oh, I'd definitely disagree with a few items here... But that'd be side-tracking, I think.