So, I’ve been tackling the idea of unfair BBEG’s that are beatable. Creating feats, creating a class, running mental exorcises to make things more interesting. What good has come of it if I don’t create a sample character? Can I Create an interesting story using said villainy type stuff.
Sure you can! Anyone can. It’s pretty easy to make a compelling villain. You’ve been digesting them all your life. If you’ve read a book or watched a movie in the past few years. You’ve probably found yourself hating a bad-guy or two. The big idea with a Role-playing game Villain is to serve as a counter point to your Heroes, generally the PC’s.
So, how do you make a compelling villain if it’s as easy as I’ve claimed? A clear, demonstrable motives and goals. The goal doesn’t even have to be diametrical opposed to the PC’s goals either. The goal simply could be a minor inconvenience for the PC’s.
A good example of this; from a video game stand point, is Hoggmiester from the Disgaea series. IF you have not played the disgaea series… here is a quick synopsis: Demon boy wants to become ruler of the underworld. Literally EVERYONE ELSE does not want him to be the ruler. Hoggmeister is a mid-boss about half-way through the game, who is a REAL pain in the neck. He eventually JOINS you. But man is he a villain for a while. He’s a greedy some-of-a-bitch who wants to be an overlord simply so that he can tax people into oblivion. That’s it. No other reason. He wants money. Simple motivation. Easy to remember. Easy to manipulate. The protagonist in all his tragic flaws, cannot realize this. Eventually he swears fealty to you after you pound him into submission enough, running through his multitudes of cash. Why am I using such a simple character as an example for a villain. Villains do not have to be complex characters, they do not have to be an example of masterful writing. They simply must be memorable, and they must be enough of a threat to your main-characters that there is concern for safety.
Have you EVER played a game, and thought to yourself “Who is the villain?” after you have been introduced to the main conflict in the game? Not all villains are people mind you, sometimes they are simply a force that one wrestles against, but most RPG’s are about CHARACTERS. Characters are, in general, a better villain choice then say a god, time, or some natural force. The narrative is richer if it is a person at the other end of the table then a force of some kind.
As long as your villain sticks out in your player’s minds, it has done it’s job. A villain, in a sense, is a force that creates interest in the story. The villain exists to create a source of dramatic tension or a sense of threat in your story. That sense of tension is not going to happen if he isn’t memorable. How do you make something memorable, or interesting? Making it something easy to digest, understand, and identify with.
What makes something fictional all of those things: It’s easy to identify with motivations, goals, ambitions. We all have them. We can identify those that we can see in other people, and we can understand what makes that person more an individual. These can be as simple or as complex as you want, but they are in the end, the core of making your villains more compelling.
IT seems like a very simple idea. But often there villains written in games that do things “Just because”, with no real developed goals. This is something that needs to be avoided when your creating your own RPG villainous characters.. as those are not characters… those are forces of nature, and those have a DIFFERENT set of characteristics all together.