Monday, November 1, 2010

How To Annoy Your Players: Villain Creation 1

Alright, back to completely serious DMing advice.

We're going to put down worldbuilding for now because I was tiring of it and go back to instructional guides and simple pieces, like that time I said Dark Sun sucked like an amorous vacuum cleaner, or that time I said completely true things about myself and made Planescape better, or that time I, that is, totally me and not some grognard, stated my opinions in a completely thought-through and not vaguely patronising way, or maybe that time I flipped my business like a bionic pancake over kender.

Specifically we're going to talk about villains.

First, let's establish something all DMs know deep in their heart of hearts, resonating deep within the vicinity of the left ventricle:

All players are basically the worst players ever.

Okay? Cool.


So. First, you should come up with a concept. I don't have much advice to give here. You can do this part on your own. Since we might need an example later, though, I am going to make up one now.

Our villain, let's call him Tooldouche, is a wizard. He leads a small army of orcs and would really, really like to burn the PCs' kingdom to the ground.

Good start? Sure, it's a good start. Now you need...

Motivation

Your players will want to know what your villain's motivation is. There are only two ways to do this: By not bothering, or by putting as much detail in as possible. Here is a bad example of a motivation:

Tooldouche had been rejected all his life. His teachers would mock him, his peers would bully him and his crushes would reject him. When he discovered a knack for arcane magic, this vaguely unlikeable nobody poured everything he had into mastering it and gaining acceptance as a master of the arcane. He became an archmage at only twenty-five, but when he was rejected during Mage Guild President elections, he snapped and roused an army of orcs to take over the kingdom and remake it in his image.

Sure, it covers the basics, but how are your PCs going to fully appreciate your efforts? How does this one paragraph justify you staying up until 3AM statting a really awesome high-level NPC to impress your players with as he kills their characters effortlessly?

It doesn't, what's how!

So here's what you do.

First, you can just not give him a motivation, which will make him even scarier. Like the Joker!

Tooldouche wants to destroy the kingdom because frankly he's kind of a dick.

The nice thing is that this gives you more time to decide what adventures the PCs will undertake to stop him, what they'll do and how he can teleport away if necessary.

The second way is to write a proper, epic backstory that suits your villain. If possible, have an NPC explain it in-depth at the nearest opportunity. If the players might get confused, bring a pamphlet.

Tooldouche was born Reginald T. Ooldouche twenty-five years ago in the town of Hootclaw, known for the owlbears which roam the nearby forests. He was a quiet, studious student who kept cats, collected stamps and had read every issue of WIZARDS! Magazine. Though he was smart, he was a shy boy, and his schoolmates would bully him mercilessly, just like Boris and his cronies bullied me at South West Sydney High all those years ago until I found out he had gotten a job as a pool cleaner on Facebook and emailed him a virus.

Tooldouche harboured a crush on Libertina, a young raven-haired maiden and a worhshipper of Valen, goddess of beauty. Libertina was beautiful, and had breasts so large Tooldouche could fit his head in one of her bra cups, and he was sure she had other good traits as well. He would often leave her roses, or love letters in her desk, or steal her shoes while she was in gym class and sniff them.

Then one day, disaster struck. First, Tooldouche was pushed down the stairs by a friend of the party fighter's who happened to go to the school which I will have to remember to tell him about in the pamphlet, and then Boris stole his favourite Pokemon card, the Charizard, and sold it to buy more cheeseburgers. Finally, his parents discovered his collection of Libertina's stolen shoes and socks.

Tooldouche was exposed. Libertina turned him down, and also she turned out to be dating Stacy, a cleric version of that cheating bitch from SESH. She did not let Tooldouche kiss her feet goodbye and she left for a church-run school. Tooldouche was the laughing stock of the school.

In his grief, Tooldouche locked himself in his father's attic and decided to kill himself. After realising he had locked himself in the attic without any means of killing himself, he rummaged around and tried to beat himself to death with one of his grandfather's books. Then he noticed it was an ancient tome of magic: the
Douchonomicon.

From that day, Tooldouche spent every moment of his free time secretly learning magic, occasionally taking heavy drags of that one stocking he had stolen from Libertina that was too large to properly masturbate into to remind him of why he was doing this, and by the time he graduated he was able to secretly destroy Boris' life like that shit-faced pool cleaner deserves.

He applied to the Arcane Order's magical university and was swiftly accepted, rising to receive the highest honor the Order could grant: the Order of the Order. The moment his graduation papers were in order, Tooldouche joined the Order and swiftly rose to a position which let him order the lesser mages of the Order. His orders were often quite demanding; perhaps this was the start of darkness for the orderly mage.

By age twenty five he was capable of casting all sorts of amazing spells, and had risen to the rank of archmage. As he rose, though, he encountered opposition: Archmage Yutube, an older man who was tipped to win the next Arcane Order President elections. The President was basically the emperor of wizards and could advise the King himself. Though Tooldouche felt that young blood was what was needed to guide this kingdom's future, and also he wanted to rub it in Stacy's bimbo face, and even though he poured all his money into a campaign to become the President, he had lost.

Who can say why? Maybe it was because you aren't supposed to campaign to be President, maybe it was because the citzens he gave speeches to were not Order members and therefore didn't get a vote. Maybe because his name was Tooldouche. Maybe, frankly, because he was kind of a dick.

Whatever happened, Tooldouche was devastated again. He fled to his tower with tears in his eyes, the laughing faces of the Order's inner circle as he tried to explain that there must have been a miscount because he had polled very well in most of the swing towns reminding him of the faces of his peers when he was caught rubbing Libertina's panties on his face as I was led out of the girl's locker room and suspended for a week and my dad sold my Nintendo.

Tooldouche decided he had had enough. Gathering all his possessions, he quit the Order and set off north, there to mass an army to take over the kingdom himself. After defeating an orc warlord in single combat by virtue of that fact that he was a wizard and could fly and throw fireballs while the warlord was a fighter and could basically swing an axe, he took control of the orcish armies and began a campaign of aggression against the kingdom's northern reaches.


Now that's a backstory.

Remember: You worked hard on this, so make sure your players fully understand and appreciate its every detail by having it come up a lot. Take a session or two to have them watch a movie about it, even, if you can work it in.


Anyway, once you've done that, you need a couple other things. One of them is...

Scope

You need to decide if the villain is going to affect a town, a nation, a world, the multiverse, whatever. A dude who is trying to blow up the planet is a bigger threat than, say, a dude who wants to kick your favourite uncle in the balls.

Here is the short version: He should mostly affect the PCs. Also, everyone who knows the PCs should talk about how powerful he is, to intimidate them. A good baseline for villain power and scope is that of the character you created to defeat him for the PCs. Maybe a little less than that, actually...



What are the rest? You think magic like this can happen in only one blog post? I am giving you the guide, the absolute best and one hundred frigging billion percent factual guide on making the most bitchtits villain in the history of balls, and you want it done in one blog post? You know what's going to happen instead? Screw you, that's what!

Part 2 later this week. We'll work out how Tooldouche is specifically going to fight the PCs and teleport away, what kind of stories the players will watch unfold in his wake and perhaps involve themselves in, and whether the orcs will wield katanas.

4 comments:

Disgruntled said...

I chuckled.

Jenx said...

Wtf katanas?

Hamsterling said...

Does every villain have to creep the players out?

Can't he be A PARAGON OF MANLINESS, SO FREAKIN' MANLY HE BEATS UPS HIPPIES AND EATS STEAKS FOR BREAKFAST or something?

:3c

Ettin said...

Honestly, if a Saxton Hale-esque character turned out to be the villain, I'd surrender then and there.