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Monday, March 23, 2015

Villains: Backstory, Motivation, and Backup Plan

Villains! Everyone loves to hate them. Not every game has them, and not every game that does have them, needs them. But most games I run have some sort of villain or another. They might be evil for evil's sake, they might be spurned lovers out for revenge, or they might be misguided heroes who believe that the ends justify the means.

But if you're using a villain, there are some basic things you might want to consider.

Backstory

Surely your villain didn't just pop into being as a fully formed adult antagonist! Where did your villain come from?

1. Apprentice: Apprenticed to a brilliant master who favored another apprentice over you
2. Urchin: Alone since childhood, you raised yourself, taking what you needed and giving nothing back
3. Slave: Grew up as a slave to cruel masters until you finally escaped
4. Orphan: Raised in a loving, caring home, but had it all taken or destroyed before your eyes

Motivation

World domination is so clich├ęd, but even if you do use that, it's not motivation by itself. What is the reason your villain wants to dominate the world?

1. Greed: A life of feeling unfulfilled drives your villain to want more and more.
2. Lust: Your villain is fixated on a person or thing and won't stop until it is safe in their clutches.
3. Revenge: A crime (real or imagined) against your villain drives them to punish all those involved.
4. Greater Good: Your villain is convinced that this is the way to make the world a better place, at least for those who deserve it.
5. Bound: Your villain is upholding an oath or is otherwise being forced into this course of action.
6. Power: Your villain is chronically insecure, and the only way they can feel safe is if they have the power to put down anyone else.

Backup Plan

Your villain's plans are foiled, but the PCs were merciful or foolish, and the villain has escaped destruction. What now?

1. Turn over a New Leaf: Repent and join a group that does good
2. Reset: Try to undo the actions of the PCs via magic, prayer, or time travel
3. Vengeance!: Forget your other plans and plot a horrible revenge against the PCs
4. Try Again: Come at the same plan from the opposite direction (e.g., use trickery instead of violence or a small organization instead of a large one)
5. Villainous Merger: Join forces with another villain and work towards their plan
6. Go into Hiding: Slip into the shadows and work your villainy far from the eyes of the PCs
7. Back to the Drawing Board: Start on a new plan with a new goal, but which furthers your existing motivation
8. Phase 2: Your plans are far from foiled, the foolish PCs have played right into your hands...

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