The Villainy of Villain Cliche's Impact Worlds

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Jester, Mar 4, 2014.


Do You Get Stuck on Personality Choices?

  1. Yes

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  2. No

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  3. Sometimes

    1 vote(s)
  1. •○• The Almighty Villain •○•

    • Have you ever gotten stuck on a villain you just keep scrapping because no matter how much you try to define who he is, i just ruins it? Or you feel like the idea is either completely unoriginal, or incomplete but can't figure out why? That's because villains have not evolved very far from their basic roots as to what makes them villains. It's easier to come up with the first classic thing in your head, and then it just sticks there forever. This is a guide how to train you to think outside the box, and make your villain something to be afraid of.

    • Your villain is what motivates your world. It's the sole reason your characters and players are in the same room. If there is no villain, and it's a casual RP, that's fine. But if you're in a big world full of languages, traveling, continents, races, and possibilities, you need an enemy somewhere that's going to make the plot interesting and epic. If you have a weak villain... your ending could come out disappointing.

    • Your hero's? Your players? Be cliche' as all hell! Sure, it's fun to be cliche' when you're the hero - you're supposed to come out on top right? Wrong. Sometimes you can be just as unique as your villain. That's where the whole viewpoint that villains are often better than hero's even comes from. Sure, you want your hero's to be awesome... but your villain is really what's going to drive your plot.

    •○• What Things are Considered Cliche'? •○•

    • Lots and lots of things. This list is going to baffle you with how many things that make villains are actually completely cliche' when used on their own, and will oftentimes lead you through some difficulties in plot development for an RP, or other game. This can be used for more than roleplaying here on Iwaku - it can be in any pen&pencil RPG ever created.

    • Batshit crazy for the basic sense of being batshit crazy. Watching the world burn is not a motivation.
    • Theft of things just to hold onto them and never, ever use it. Ever.
    • The cool, slicked-back, smooth villain who disdainfully looks down his nose at literally everybody.
    • Those that are evil/upset with overused motivations: aka - a lost wife, child, or parents.
    • Those that have a past childhood vendetta against the hero. Dude, counseling.
    • The evil king who totally disrupts the entire continent's balance. No one could last this way.
    • The guy who tries to overthrow an awesome king. This is the same thing, just... one step more.
    • Those that turn your friends against you.
    • The motivation for power, only for the sake of having said power. What?
    • Those who try to play gods, and rule literally everything. This isn't even possible.
    • Any head of any corporation involved in a dangerous aftermath of any kind. Yes, including zombies.
    • The one that kills off every henchmen he has when he absolutely needs them to keep functioning.
    • Abductors/murderers/stalkers who want ransoms from taking anyone at all hostage.
    • The bully who blames someone else for their crimes, and gets away.
    • My favorite villain of all time is the Joker, the 90's Batman: The Animated Series version. And you know what? As much as I love the hell out of the character, he is as linear and predictable as could possibly be. You already know he doesn't give a damn about anything, and aside from his jokes, he's just another cookie cutter bad guy. The only thing he lives to do, is torture Batman. And he happens to kill a ton of people along the way just to do that. Now that you're looking down at it from the sky, it seems pretty bland, doesn't it?

    • Not that using cliche's is all bad! It's actually almost unavoidable. True originality has long since been used up - it's just a matter of how you write it out now in personal character development! Why is the Joker still so awesome? What about him makes him one of the greatest villains in history? His clown-nature. They gave him a persona that was completely opposite Batmans, and it was fun to watch how they interacted with each other. This is the same concept you are trying to convey to players.

    •○• Don't Be Afraid to be Controversial! •○•

    • That was pretty discouraging, wasn't it? Seeing all those things that are so often used, that you probably don't even think about it when you're coming up with the character? That's alright. Because while they're on their own, they are super-boring concepts. However, you can mix and match them with each other, and they come out into some brilliantly orchestrated badass villains. The combinations are near-endless, not to mention some of the more creative out-of-the-box concepts you could string together.

    • Along the sides of this, you should never be afraid to be controversial. What is a villain? That's obviously a trick question. They're the villain. They do the bad things that start the adventure, or emotional trauma to characters in order to move the plot forward. Depending on what time period your game takes place, you could have any number of different types of villains, and the most unique combinations are the ones that will win the most interest and praise, and make for super fun RP's that last a nice long time.
    • Those that hold moral obligations are more interesting and harder to predict.
    • Those that do what they do because they physically/mentally need to do so make choices harder.
    • Those who feel that what they're doing is absolutely right have real motivation for goals.
    • Ranging ages makes judgment and fighting way harder. Fifteen-year-old murderer anyone?
    • Extreme violent outbursts mixed with calm reasoning are intimidating, and good for insanity.
    • Sympathetic villains with interesting pasts make your players emotionally connected in some way.
    • Interesting ailments make for interesting character design, even if it's not personality development.
    • Those with inspiration for a greater cause or reason have more motivation than just power.
    • Hobbies and interests give villains ideas and can oftentimes make them more relatable.
    • Villains are bad. What is some of the worst stuff you can think up off the top of your head? Why won't you RP it? Is it considered wrong in society? Why? What would you do to change that if you were a hero? What would you do if you were the villain doing said unspeakable thing? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Good. That's how villains are villains - they do things a hero would never do. Unspeakable, awful, disgraceful, disgusting, horrifying things. Depending on your plot's time period, you could incorporate any number of awful things. Be creative, and make sure you pose to your group that you have a particularly offensive villain before you begin. You may actually get more responses than you think!

    •○• Villain and Hero Relationships •○•

    • Your villain is going to give your players a thing to work for - a thing to destroy. They will be your driving force all though the story plot as you chase and chase and chase to take him down, to stop him from doing whatever it is that he's going to do. But there are a few things to consider when you're going after your big bad wolf, and that's how to get your players to look at him as more than a carrot on a string.

    • It's easy to lose sight of what a villain is like if you only focus on the hero's side of the whole adventure. And given that RP's are mostly about the players acting out their characters, you as the GM/DM are in charge of your group's villain. Your characters can throw their own demons onto the field, sure. But as the one who creates the topic, the main story villain is yours, and you need to use them to keep your story from going stale, or boring. Don't let your players think that catching him is actually impossible. Don't overpower him so that no one can see a way to defeat him. Make the fight tricky, yes. Give him abilities worthy of the title villain, yes. But don't god-mod him into some super-being nobody can touch and expect players to keep chasing. There are a few things to consider during the game to keep things fresh:
    • Your villain is not your friend. Maybe at one time he was, but right now he is a villain for a reason, is he not? You are out to take him down. Maybe out to change him - but don't count on it. He very likely won't.
    • He will be your player's enemy. If he tries to sweet-talk a player, he is trying to manipulate them.
    • If he is given the chance, he will try to kill/kidnap someone. As the GM/DM, you are responsible for reminding players of this if they try to wiggle through cracks.
    • The villain is out to break all of you up, because he knows you are a threat to him. Even if the GM/DM claims he is not afraid, he most certainly is.
    • You may actually sympathize with some of the things he believes in, or some of his motivations... but unless you plan to go bad during the game, remember: he is the enemy.
    • There is a chance, and this is entirely depending on who controls the villain, he will come around and become a good character again. This is up to the players whether they trust him, or try to just kill him off.
    • A bad-gone-good villain will always have some kind of psychological problem from everything he'd done before, even if he doesn't see it that way. Your players will remember this.
    • A villain doing something because they physically need to (aka - a monster dragging people from a village to eat them because its hungry,) makes for good choice-making and judgment!

    •○• Long-Term VS Short-Term Villains •○•

    • This will be necessary depending on what the GM/DM is going for. Some villains aren't very long-term, meaning they show up, ruin everyone's day and run off, like a thief. Others are life-long enemies, destined to constantly appear and make your hero's miserable.

    • Short-Term villains are almost as important as long-term ones, and it shouldn't be finked on. They may vanish once they do something particularly horrendous, but what if that reverbrates through the whole rest of the game? What if it affects the whole world into history? Say a thief managed to take off with a crown that was centuries years old, and no one ever caught him. He will be talked about for years, and then what happens one day when your characters find that crown? And in turn, the vaguely-mentioned thief?

    • Long-term villains are very good for epic-length RPing. If you want one that's going to last pages and pages, whether it be OneXOne or Group, you're going to want a particularly special villain. Or more. It's completely possible to have more than one villain in an RP, and the more there are, the more complex, and deep your story will be. You'll almost never run out of side-quests or main plot points. And the more developed a villain is, the more they will stick rooted to the story and continue to add a purpose.

    •○• Character Deaths and Injuries •○•
    • This right here is a touchy subject. If a villain is meant to be the bane of your existence, why hasn't he been much of a bane on your hero's? Sure, as the GM/DM, you could come up with killing one of your own characters. That saves some conversation or possible arguments later with your players. But if someone else is willing to kill off a character for the sake of some emotional involvement, so be it.

    • There's nothing wrong with this as long as everyone agrees it's alright. Don't just randomly kill some player's character without asking or informing them. I cannot stress this enough. Deaths are only alright if all players are agreed to the situation, unless it's the GM/DM's own character!

    • Injuries are also on the table. Say one character agrees that their character should take some damage, so they decide to throw it out there that something savages their face, and turns them blind. Maybe thereafter they were a blindfold, and rely on their ears, or magic eyes from a demon enchanted with a new power. There are many things you can do with injuries to make things more interesting than they already were, and at the same time, it still shows that your character has their weaknesses!

    • Along with that, who says they can't develop an illness? Either a psychotic break from dealing with the villain toying with them the whole time, to actual physical ailments they may have picked up from him. That kind of trauma could scar anyone - why not a hero? It doesn't have to be super crippling, but something that will stick with them forever - a thing that you could make a permanent part of that character's history that you can point back on in the prior RP and say, "this is how it happened." There's always fun in building a character this way. There are several kinds of illnesses and injuries you can choose from:

    • Paranoia. Who wouldn't be paranoid of another villain breaking in and mucking things up again?
    • Missing limbs or teeth. Does your character now have a gap between two teeth in their mouth? Are they getting a new prosthetic or robotic body part?
    • Burnt or scarred faces, or marks anywhere else on the body.
    • Social anxiety and any of it's various miserable forms.
    • Personality issues, such as switching moods, or seeming to have a split consciousness.
    • A permanent limp or speech impediment.
    • Remember, everything needs to be accepted before it's done... No one likes it when something is forced on them, especially if it means they lose a character they play. God-modding sucks, and we all hate it. While it can add a nice plot point, and one or two in a whole big RP can add some much-needed emotional tension, it won't happen if no one wants to. And in the end, that's fine. Remember - think bad.
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  2. •○• Reserved •○•

    • I will fill this in with prompts to try on your own to see if you can work out ideas.
  3. Why can I only rate this once?! This is one of the best villain creation articles I've ever seen, thank you!
  4. *OoO* Thank you so much. I appreciate it! >w< I love villains!
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  5. This is an excellent guide, and well written! As someone who also enjoys playing villains, I agree is much of the points you made, in particular the issue of cliche and originality. People seem to get too tied up in that stuff sometimes.