Monday, June 6, 2016

Playing the Really Evil Villain

A woman goes to her brother-in-law's funeral. There she meets a friend of the family, a man that she doesn't know. They talk, they laugh, and the woman finds herself really liking this man. However, at some point she loses track of the man and never gets his name, number, and no one seems to know who he is.  A week later, the woman kills her sister. Why?

If you don't know the answer, it is because most people have a part of their reasoning that discounts certain solutions to problems because they don't make sense. In this case, you might have missed the logic that the woman kills her sister so there will be another funeral, and she can find this man again. This solution seems unreasonable, so most folks can't find their way to it easily.

True evil is like this woman. It doesn't place the same weight on things as we do. What seems completely unreasonable to a normal person, seems like a logical solution to evil. Because most GMs are reasonable people (despite what their players may sometimes think!) they have a hard time bringing evil to the table.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you bring a truly evil NPC into your game:

  1. Evil lacks empathy. Evil doesn't care about any other given person like a reasonable person. They consider others much like a normal person considers an insect just before they stomp on it.
  2. Evil doesn't care about fair. There is no fair fight. There is no line that cannot be crossed. How do they prefer to beat the PCs? With a club while they sleep.
  3. Evil has motivation, often more and stronger motivation that normal folks. They assume their view of the world is shared by others, and they don't want to be an insect under another person's boot.
  4. Evil is often intertwined with vengeance, anger, lust for power, a desire for violence. These other emotions often are weaknesses of the villain.
  5. Evil is often rationalized. There is a good reason they are doing these things in their own mind.
  6. Evil corrupts. Evil will take whatever actions necessary to gain leverage and make others fight their battles. Any good PC or NPC is fair game for evil to turn. This is a good way to introduce a twist into a plot.
  7. Evil isn't stupid. Stupid evil gets caught before it is a threat. Those that survive long enough to become a villain in your story already have enough power, influence, money, and/or intelligence to be a real threat. Play it up.
  8. There is always a bigger evil, and evil folks rarely get along. Evil doesn't necessarily make allies with evil. Those who work for a villain aren't a threat. Those who aren't under the villain's thumb are a threat.
It is a good thing that these things don't come naturally to most folks. We are good GMs. Sometimes, though, we can work to bring a bit of evil into our games.