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Chronic Backstabbing Disorder / Tabletop Games

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  • Though the stories paint them as justified (in a sort of "We're backstabbing you because you backstabbed us" counter-betrayal way), BattleTech's Gray Death Legion eventually gains a reputation with the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission as this, having a long, demonstrated history of attacking their employer's forces, even when they do so to stop rebellions and bring down rogue generals. In short, they have a history of doing the morally right things by doing legally wrong things.
    • Duke Michael Hasek Davion, also from the same setting, is this. He has in some form or another repeatedly betrayed his liege lord Prince Hanse Davion by collaborating with the leader of an enemy Successor State. He also betrays Chancellor Maximilian Liao, the aforementioned enemy leader, by feeding him false information about his own strength so as to take advantage of Liao's trust when the opportunity presents itself. This proves to be his undoing when Hanse plays his Magnificent Bastard card and manages to triple-cross both Michael and Maximilian in one fell swoop, whereupon Michael is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves by the displeased Chancellor after his double-treachery is discovered.
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  • Anyone who forms a pact with the demon lord of betrayal is kind of obligated to act this way in The Dark Eye. Even if they don't want to...
  • Diplomacy can be a bit of a subversion. The player who stabs at every chance quickly finds himself friendless and doomed. Skilled players know that a long-term alliance is one of the most valuable things you can have, and only stab when doing so is necessary for survival or likely to win the game.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Expected in the game for adventuring parties that aren't that experienced. It often takes new players some time to realize that betraying their comrades is not a good idea. Thieves, in particular, are always expected to back-stab or steal from the rest of their party.
    • This is one of the reasons why good and evil characters don't play well together. At least, if the evil character is the type to murder the other characters in their sleep at the first opportunity.
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    • True Neutral people in the old AD&D were described as switching sides to whichever one was weakest, to preserve the "balance" between good and evil. This was dropped in later editions, due to being insane.
    • Like the Skaven, the drow live underground, keep slaves, and betray anyone whose death would provide the slightest benefit. Their goddess, Lolth, encourages this behavior. It's gotten to the point where in some of the Forgotten Realms novels, the Running Gag is that a drow found dead with a knife in her back is considered to have died of natural causes. Some portrayals tone this down, pointing out that just because they're Always Chaotic Evil doesn't mean that they're always Chaotic Stupid.
    • Felix from the Ravenloft adventure "Neither Man Nor Beast" betrays his creator, the feline beast-man rebels, the loyalist beast-men, and the player characters, some of them repeatedly.
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  • The Ebon Dragon, in Exalted, is essentially the cosmic principle of selfishness, deception, betrayal, and general jackassery. He doesn't even need a reason to betray one of his "allies"; he'll do it just to spite them. He is the reason you can't have nice things. He doesn't just betray his allies, he betrays himself. He's only crafted one jouten (physical body — most Yozi have multiple different bodies, often operating simultaneously) because he knows that if he crafts any more, they'll try to turn on him. Even then, he still manages to screw himself by constructing plots that screw 'the Yozi' as a group without constructing any exemptions for himself into them. Sometimes. He's actually rather inconsistent about it, which the writers tend to describe as him 'keeping himself guessing'. The Ebon Dragon has plans to break out of Hell. He's aligned with his fellow kings of Hell to get out but plans to close the gate on them once he's out if he can help it. However, it's said that, should he pull this off, his own component souls will fight to keep some part of him trapped in Hell, because he can't help but betray himself on the most fundamental level.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • While all the Chaos Gods from Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 habitually engage in betrayal and backstabbing of their brothers, Tzeentch is the most prolific of the four being the god of byzantine plots and intrigue. The followers of the Changer of the Ways follow their master’s lead, spending as much time and effort conspiring against each other almost as much as they do against their enemies so that they can rise through the ranks and secure the favour of Tzeentch. All of which is part of Tzeentch’s greater plan.
    • Even Tzeench has a tendency to betray himself, as if any of his thousands of concurrent plan succeed, it will destroy him. While his plots and schemes have thousands of small victories that add up, if any of them are a total success it will erase him from existence. For this reason, it's not uncommon for two followers of Tzeench to meet up and end up sabotaging the others' orders, even if both sides are following the plans of Tzeench himself, because for him, that sabotage is still a victory.
    • Warhammer specific examples:
      • The Skaven consider Chronic Backstabbing Disorder to be a desirable way of life and those who know of their existence believe this is the only reason they haven't taken over the whole Warhammer world.
      • Hobgoblins backstab everyone they interact with, to such a degree that they are evolving a bony plate in their most stabbable area. Even Goblins, who will cheerfully rob, swindle, betray and even eat each other in a pinch, consider the Hobgoblins to be despicable backstabbers and refuse to associate with them even on the battlefield.
      • The Dark Elves are also big fans of this. The only reason Malekith is still in charge is because he's strong enough to make any traitors dearly regret their decision.
    • Warhammer 40,000 specific examples:
      • The Dark Eldar are quite fond of betraying each other and are probably a greater threat to each other as they are to their actual enemies.
      • Kharn the Betrayer got his nickname from an incident where even his fellow World Eaters thought it was too cold to fight. Enraged at this lack of moral fibre, he grabbed a flamer and started setting fire to friend and foe alike. Due to being a servant of the Blood God Khorne (who cares not whence the blood flows, so long as it flows free) he has a rule where missing in close combat hits someone on his side. What a swell guy.
      • The C'tan known as the Deceiver is another master of this - he constantly switched sides during the war between the C'tan and the Old Ones, and when neither side would trust him, he started using disguises. According to the Necron Codex, the mistrust sown between the various races serving the Old Ones by the Deceiver's machinations probably did more for the C'tan war effort than the efforts of the other three remaining C'tan combined.
  • In Nomine:
    • Malphas (Demon Prince of Factions) is assigned with creating divisions in society, from mere distrust to full Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Not surprisingly, he instigates so much backstabbing in Hell (both by himself and by making others paranoid enough to do it) that it's amazing that he hasn't betrayed Lucifer (yet).
    • A supplement to the French game In Nomine was based on introduces the secret A.P.H.T.E. organisation, Malphas' pet project. Truly amoral, this organisation can be hired by anyone, including humans, to ruin anyone else's life. The canon operative? Monica Lewinsky.
  • Steve Jackson tends to love this in various games, especially:
  • Kindred of the East who follow the Dharma of the Thousand Whispers, which upholds the principle of balance through diversity, are known for this, since to maintain their Dharma they have to see life from different perspectives, for example by changing identities at the drop of a hat. Those who do not understand the Dharma are generally under the impression that there should be some kind of continuity of self from identity to identity, but more experienced Kuei-Jin point out that such continuity would be missing the point of the Dharma.
    • Vampires in general seem to have this as their species-wide hat. After all, the happiest vampire in the world is the last one.
  • Mage: The Ascension: The Nephandi don't really have it much easier, though it's kind of justified, given that they're an order of total dicks and Evil Sorcerers.
  • The Seers of the Throne have institutionalized CBD. Every member of the order is looking to usurp and replace their superior, the guys at the top (the Ministers and tetrarchs) are looking to Ascend and join the Exarchs, and the Exarchs are looking to outmaneuver and gain power over each other. It honestly is a wonder they manage to get anything done. In the past, this has devolved into full-blown Enemy Civil War, and although they've developed enough of an "honor system" to keep things operational, the tendency to screw each other over at the slightest provocation is still the greatest weakness of the Seers.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
  • Munchkin is based on the trope, so much so that the phrase is part of the tagline. You'll help them with one difficult fight, then do everything in your power to see that they lose the next one. Gets particularly nasty towards the end of a game, when players will frequently form alliances to stop someone from winning, then immediately side with that person against their former allies. It's all Rule of Fun and Rule of Funny, though, so hopefully, it won't be played by anyone who holds grudges. The name comes from the Player Archetype The Munchkin which is often prone to this due to their goal of trying to win games that aren't supposed to be competitive.
  • Paranoia: Backstabbing your fellow players is the point of the game, to the point that the sourcebook implies that if the game doesn't devolve into a volley of laserfire, the GM and players are doing it wrong.
  • Shadowrun: Putting aside the number of times the Player Characters are liable to end up on both sides of this trope, lorewise Richard Villiers, former CEO of Fuchi Industrial, Novatech and NeoNET, is renowned for his ability and tendency to pull the plug and move on. He was instrumental in placing a The Mole inside Fuchi's major competitor Renraku, and later successfully destroyed Fuchi in order to put Novatech in its place on the Corporate Court.
  • The Systems Malfunction universe practically runs on this trope, along with a heaping helping of Gambit Pileup. Naturally, the tabletop setting guide to this universe encourages this amongst players.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG:
    • Some of the Archfiends have effects that destroy other Archfiends when summoned. This is usually a good thing since they have effects that activate when they get destroyed, but it still means your monsters will keep killing each other before turning their attention to the opponent.
    • There's also the Mark of the Rose card, which forces the equipping monster to switch sides every turn so that it serves whoever's turn it is at the moment.


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