Guide to Playing as an Antagonist
|A Bad Traitor says:|
"I have the ultimate plan. First I will do toxins, set up all the bombs, blow them all up in critical areas, and then finish off anyone I see with my revolver. Why? Because I can."
Don't be like that guy above.
This is meant to be more of an aid in developing a concise plot and reasoning for your actions, rather then a mechanics based guide. If you need help with the mechanics, there are various guides to help you.
Playing as an antagonist is very hard, as you are expected to make the round fun and engaging for people. It is not for everyone, and it's easy to ruin a round for a lot of people if you're not careful. Before taking the plunge and trying antag for the first time, it's highly recommended that you read this guide, and the mechanics-based guide of the specific antagonist you wish to play first. It'll make everything easier for you, your team (if applicable), and everyone else.
The Golden Rule
One phrase you're going to see here a lot is, 'Your goal is to make the round fun and engaging.'
This comes with the less fun corollary, that is, 'You should make the round fun for everyone, not just yourself.'
What this means is that you should try as hard as you can to not prioritize your fun over others. This is not to say you shouldn't have fun (it is a game, afterall), but if you make a minor sacrifice in your enjoyment that cases everyone else to love the round, you are awesome. This also can mean having to accept that there is a real risk of you losing, but we'll get to that later.
What It Means to Be an Antag
There is a common misconception that antagonists must always murder/blow things up/other violent action/etcetc. This is far from the truth. There are many ways to be engaging to the crew without being overtly violent. Blackmailing, stealing, framing, tricking, and other covert actions are just as valid. There is also nothing saying that you strictly need to be pigeonholed to the pitch black evildoer. Undertaking morally ambiguous actions (e.g. vigilante justice, stealing from the vault to give to entire crew quietly, getting back at that crewmember who wronged you) is perfectly valid as well.
Another common misconception is that the antags are expected to involve all or as many of the station. This is not true, and it's usually not something you can really do without upsetting some people. This may seem strange, but it'll make sense why later. The short answer is that it generally more enjoyable for everyone else if they come to the action, not if the action comes to them.
Remember that your goal is to make the round engaging and fun. If you manage to make the round really fun and memorable to five people, you did better then most.
Keeping It In Your Pants
There is a term called the 'murderboner', which basically means mass murder for a very flimsy reason. You should never murderbone (or risk a ban). Of course, as the round's antagonist, you can do hostile things, but there is a large difference between the following examples.
- A person rigging explosives to a critical station component, and demanding something in return, or else the bombs will explode.
- A person rigging explosives inside every department and then detonating them at the same time, without warning or reason, hoping to score as many kills as possible.
There is also this.
- Someone trying to fight their way through the station, firing at anyone who poses a threat to them (security), while ignoring the civilians who pose zero threat and letting them escape.
- Someone trying to fight their way through the station, firing at anyone who happens to be within sight, trying to rack up as many kills, regardless of circumstance.
Killing should be something to be considered very carefully, it should not be seen as a high score to achieve. Remember that every person you kill removes them for the round, possibly for good.
That being said, don't be afraid if someone is being a twat and tries to act tough in the face of danger, or tries to disarm spam you wordlessly. Feel free to shoot their face in (and maybe adminhelp them too).
Also, if you're getting swarmed by all of sec at once and you're cornered, with no escape, it's not murderboning to mow them all down with your SAW. It's a despite last stand.
Oftentimes, being selected for the antagonist comes as a surprise for you, and you may have a hard time coming up with a plan of action or a reason why your character would do something bad. There's a few things you can do.
- Keep a backlog of ideas - Some people will randomly come up with ideas for what they'd like to try to do as an antag. It can be helpful to write those down, to use later.
- Make a plan on the spot - You have a generous amount of time (one and a half hours generally) to make the round worthwhile. There's no shame in needing half an hour to come up with something, just keep in mind to not plan for too long, or you may find the round ending in ten minutes.
- Let the spacewind carry you - Just go with the flow and see where the round goes, then you may get an idea based on what already occurred. Just try to do something in time.
- If you are a team-based antagonist (mercenary, cultist, changeling if you're willing to risk it), you can just be subordinate to someone else who has a good idea.
This is a loose concept of what you want to try to do as the antag. Sometimes this will be redefined and changed midround, to adapt to new circumstances. Some basic ideas include.
- As the station AI, you long dread the prospect of the crew dying of old age. To fix this, you decide to convert the station to a massive cryogenics array by lowering the temperature in all of the rooms. The crew won't like it, but you're doing them a huge favor.
- As the Head of Personnel, you notice that your Colony Director is a bit... less then stellar at their job. That cushy title should belong to you, and there's many possible ways for you to get it. Framing the captain for a high crime, convincing everyone else that they are as incompetent as you see them as and starting a mutiny, arranging an 'accident', the possibilities are endless.
- As the Detective, you wish you could become famous, but that's unlikely, while you languish at this corporate job and solve mundane cases such as figuring out whoever keeps drawing graffiti. Perhaps you could manufacture a murder case, and then 'solve' it yourself... Some eggs would need to be broken first.
Ideally, your character would have their own motivations for undergoing what you're going to make them do beyond 'I like blowing shit up'. There is a lot you can do with your character and other characters' backstories and station relations to come up with a plausible reason for wanting to do something. Remember that (assuming you're a traitor) you get 'antag records', that other people fill out, similar to med/sec records, but is meant to be used for antagonists to find juicy information for blackmailing or possibly narrowing down targets.
Antagonists and Admins have a special relationship, in that they ultimately have the same goal: To make sure the players have fun. Sometimes you get an idea, but there's some critical things you need that you can't acquire normally. What you can do is adminhelp asking for assistance in your idea. If they like it, they'll probably help out. This could range from trading telecrystals for items not on the PDA, to turning your idea into a full-blown mini-event. Of course, if your idea basically amounts to 'give me huge guns and I'll murder everyone', you'll just get laughed at. Then slapped if you actually go through with that.
Another thing you should adminhelp for, in addition to reporting rulebreakers and asking for help, is if you're worried what you're planning to do might be going 'too far', such as starting huge fires or bombing departures. If you're not sure, adminhelp first, especially since nine times out of ten, the answer for an antagonist asking if they can do something is “yes”, unless it's on the level of station-destroying (without good reason).
Murder and You
Oftentimes, there's no other way. Sometimes you need someone gone, nothing your .357 revoler/proboscis/cult blade/fire blast can't handle. But wait, remember the Golden Rule.
Granted, it's rather difficult to make a killing fun for both of you (depending on the other person, they won't mind, think your method of execution is hilarious, or they'll hate you no matter what), so don't worry too much about that. Just try to be sporting and not wordlessly kill them without a chance to talk or even retaliate/flee, and you'll be fine.
Also, don't listen to what Deadchat says for advice on your antagging. (Most) people you killed obviously won't like what you did, and other ghosts just want to watch the station burn.
As stated before, you have a real risk of 'losing', in the sense of the station managing to stop your plan, whatever it may be. A quote from ol' Ben Franklin says,
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Reverse the meaning and we get what you might want to do,
“If you plan to fail, the plan will not fail!”
What this means is that it can help you if you go in with the mindset that you might draw the short stick when it comes down to it. Remember that winning isn't everything. This isn't to say that you shouldn't try, but that you should be a good sport OOCly and remember that you can always try again next time, perhaps with a new twist.
If your plan incorporates the possibility of you being stopped, perhaps it can branch off in ways you've never imagined. Perhaps you can convince someone to come in your cell while you robust them and make a daring escape. Perhaps you're the cunning fellow who made an escape route in the brig before being captured, or perhaps you hid tools inside. Perhaps being captured is all part of the plan, while your allies use you as an entry-point into the station's most fortified sector. It's not over until the round ends.
If things look truly dire, surrendering might be your best bet. At the very least, you get to continue roleplaying, albeit inside a brig cell or medical. After-all, your character doesn't want to die.
This also means that you shouldn't try to be the perfect objective-completing machine (IE powergaming). It makes characters much more believable if they have to work around their flaws instead of ignoring them when convenient. That being said, you're allowed a bit of leeway when it comes to the skill system when you're an antagonist. The best way to think of it is 'If I let my character do something they don't know how to do, will it improve the round?'. If the answer is 'yes', then don't feel bad. Just try to not do it too often.
Remember, antagging isn't for everybody, but having the mindset of 'Fun for everyone, not just me' will help greatly in making memorable rounds, for all parties.