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How do you introduce villain characters?


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#1 Dampe

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:20 PM

Hi guys!

 

My group has played together for about a month now, and I feel like it's time to introduce a big, bad "end boss" that my players will work towards over a longer campaign (They have been doing smaller smugling and political adventures up to this point), and I wonder how other GMs introduces this kinds of characters.

 

What I've been thinking about doing is have someone sabotage their ship while it is parked on a new planet with a note saying something among the lines of "dont mess with *Villain*". The way this fits into the campaing is that they have been doing some pretty shady deals with a Hutt and his even shadier friends (smugling weapons and drugs, "replacing" one criminal Hutt mastermind with another etc), and I was thinking that one of their competitors is starting to get really pissed of.

 

So how would you go from there? Have some of his mercenarys try to take the team out, maybe have their Hutt employer beeing attacked.

 

Would love some input, thanks in advance!



#2 Mike

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:27 PM

Get a clearer picture on the villain first. Who is he? Or she? What's their name, species, proficiency? Are they Force sensitive? What motivates them? What success did they have, what regrets?


Edited by Mike, 28 February 2014 - 03:59 PM.

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#3 Lathrop

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:54 PM

I've got a force-sensitive adversary trying to increase in strength, and the only reason the players run into him now and then is due to the coincidence of having jobs where the force-sensitive is trying to manipulate things. Appearances are few, but the brief shows of increased power provides a decent looming enemy who will eventually have to be dealt with.

I've also got an experienced bounty hunter who will be introduced trying to catch one of the players with a bounty on their head. He takes the job due to the number of bounty hunters the group has killed before. I'll pretty much make him extra beefy from the get-go so that whenever he comes around, instincts will be to run since he's too much to handle.

 

I personally wouldn't go with just ship vandalism. It makes it seem like kind of a random thing done by jerks. I'd have an actual mini-confrontation where some of the guy's goons show up and specifically tell the players to back off, or else. This way the threat is more involved, and if you wanted to make the goons extra tough to rough up the players, and then back off before anyone gets knocked out - it's reasonable and lets the players understand the threat they're facing.



#4 Mike

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:57 PM

I can imagine the note on the cockpit windows:

 

"You crossed me for the last time! I... tried to intimidate you in person, but you weren't here. Hence the note. So... be aware. Filthy scum.

 

-Love,

Villain

 

P.S.: Sorry I dented the starboard exhaust vents when I parked out. But I'm not going to leave my insurance information. THAT's how evil I am"


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#5 Tamati Khan

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:57 PM

What Mike said, in his first post, but don't tell the players.

 

I like a villain who remains unseen until the very end, with perhaps a glimpse here or a rumour there. Personally, I feel Darth Maul would have been better if you, the viewer, never saw him until.......

 

 

Then you don't see or hear from him again until.......

 

 

Some people hate not seeing a cool bad guy more, but I think the mystery helps build the suspense and tension until pow. You want your players to not know what hit them. Then wet themselves when they see him/her again.


Edited by Tamati Khan, 28 February 2014 - 03:58 PM.

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#6 NatemusMaximus

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:00 PM

It would be fun to introduce this "end boss" in an encounter.  You said your group has been smuggling for some less than reputable individuals.  Have you PCs run into him at a pick-up or drop-off, or be hijacked somewhere in between.  Have him taunt your PCs and reclaim the goods and either leave the PCs to die due to some sort of hazard (like being tied up in a room where the oxygen levels are dropping) or with a group of enemies to fight.  You get the idea.

 

Just remember to avoid putting the "end boss" within the reach of your PCs until you are ready for the final showdown.  If your PCs are clever enough they may kill him early and that would ruin the fun of running into him or his minions from time to time.


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#7 progressions

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:00 PM

In some senses it's trickier for RPGs because it's not as easy to have those cut scenes like in films, where we see the villain at work--steepling his fingers and cackling about how his plans will destroy those do-gooders at last!

 

Something which can be very effective is to have others talk about the villain. Depending on what type of villain it is, this could be some of the villain's previous victims, it could be the villain's minions, it could be people with more knowledge than the PCs have, warning them to stay away.

 

There's a type of scene in many films which lays out "The villain is THIS powerful":

 

In The Terminator, the scene where Kyle Reese explains to Sarah Connor that the Terminator "doesn't feel fear, or pity, or remorse, it cannot be reasoned with, and it absolutely will not stop until you are dead!"

 

In The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo "every single person who has faced an Agent has died. Every single one."

 

It can be very effective to have somebody who is scared of the villain for good reason trying to convince the PCs they don't want to confront this guy.

 

In the Thrawn Trilogy, once they learn there is a new "Grand Admiral" running the Empire they're all terrified because of that title, and once they see Thrawn's strategic genius at work they're even more scared.

 

You could also think of the first time the heroes and the villain meet--when the USS Reliant attacks the Enterprise in Star Trek II. Or, the first time Han meets Darth Vader (onscreen) in The Empire Strikes Back, just opening that door and there's Vader, shooting him doesn't even help.

 

You could phase in the introduction. First the characters hear whispers of a new enemy making waves. Then they hear the story of one of the attacks the villain has made on somebody. Then they might discover the site of the one of the villain's attacks, with no survivors. Then they might meet a survivor who faced down the villain and barely lived, and this survivor tries to convince them "This guy is TOO scary, you should stay away!" So by the time they finally meet face to face, the PCs have good reason to be concerned...

 

Of course it does depend on the TYPE of villain you're talking about too...


Edited by progressions, 28 February 2014 - 04:02 PM.

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#8 Desslok

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:52 PM

How about introducing him in a scenario where they cant fight? Something like a dinner meeting or otherwise in a civilized setting, where pulling out the guns and blowing him away would be frowned upon (and potentially lethal). Have him cordial and memorable (and don't forget to introduce The Dragon at the same time) and leave them an impression that'll last. Interact with the bad guy(s) before shooting at them! What a concept.


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#9 Tamati Khan

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 05:24 PM

How about introducing him in a scenario where they cant fight? Something like a dinner meeting or otherwise in a civilized setting, where pulling out the guns and blowing him away would be frowned upon (and potentially lethal). Have him cordial and memorable (and don't forget to introduce The Dragon at the same time) and leave them an impression that'll last. Interact with the bad guy(s) before shooting at them! What a concept.

 

Always good to know a bad guy before you splatter his brains on the wall.


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#10 Sturn

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 08:38 PM

In past campaigns, not just Star Wars, I've had an NPC be a party member or acquaintance for a few adventures to become friends or at least a friendly contact. Then later when they figuratively stab the PCs in the back it adds dramatic effect and thus become a even more hated villian. Of course you can't do this to the same players in every campaign. But it is fun during the next campaign you run to see the players all paranoid wondering which NPC they meet is going to be that guy. :)


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#11 progressions

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 09:47 PM

In past campaigns, not just Star Wars, I've had an NPC be a party member or acquaintance for a few adventures to become friends or at least a friendly contact. Then later when they figuratively stab the PCs in the back it adds dramatic effect and thus become a even more hated villian. Of course you can't do this to the same players in every campaign. But it is fun during the next campaign you run to see the players all paranoid wondering which NPC they meet is going to be that guy. :)

 

Great idea!

 

If not the villain, the trusted friend NPC could be a victim of the villain, to drive home how dangerous they are.


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#12 copperbell

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 11:01 AM

A few questions;

 

1) How did they (the PC's) first meet?

 

2) Where did they obtain that ship?

 

3) What if the patron is the villain and they're using them to find lost artefacts such as holocrons to improve their abilities?

 

4) Who were their first foes?

Could one of them have been a member of the clan/family/tribe that has a few more dangerous members and they've been put on the PCs trail?

 

5) Could someone else have framed them for their misdeed and its a case that this villain is being misdirected at them and once eliminated their friends come after the PCs whilst the true villain laughs in the background as their plans continue unaffected until the PCs stumble head first into them say for example they don't kill one of those sent after them and maybe even befriend another potential foe who realises what's really going on and tries to warn them?

 

6) What would you like to see and what have they said they'd like to see in your game?



#13 themensch

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:13 PM

Every time I introduce a new nemesis in a combat scenario, my heroes manage to roll 50 triumphs and blast him.  So, the next one they'll meet at Extreme range.

 

That said, I've been toying with giving short blurbs from his point of view throughout the story, like a cut scene where the albino Trandoshan smashed his fist into the control panel as the heroes escape to hyperspace.   I haven't tried this storytelling technique before but as I hone my craft I figure this would be fun to see - otherwise, how else would we know about Force choking?


Edited by themensch, 01 March 2014 - 02:16 PM.


#14 Colyer

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:51 AM

My current villain is an agent of Imperial Intelligence pursuing my crew in an effort to follow them to the remainder of a Rebel cell they have worked with before (and was ravaged just off-screen). The crew doesn't know they're tagged as Rebel sympathizers, and they don't know who this guy really is, having only found his name on an encrypted message once several months ago.
I think at least one of my players have figured him out in a "how did he do it" sense, but I think the mystery is still preserved for the most part. Looking forward to his reveal.

#15 Liloki

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:36 PM

My villains tend to come at my players sideways the first few times if only to ensure there's no "we shoot them dead!" reaction from the players on the initial meeting.

 

Sometimes the bad guy is someone who they thought was a friend/ally/compatriot Keyser Soze style.

 

Sometimes the bad guy is not anywhere near that subtle and the group finds out they crossed the wrong person when the goons or hirelings of said villain come knocking.

 

Any type of bad guy can always go after the friends/allies of the group at some point just to keep pressure on the PCs to become proactive instead of reactive.


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#16 LibrariaNPC

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:59 PM

To answer your question: "Very Carefully."

 

See, whenever I introduce a potential villain in combat, the party assumes they are the villain and try to kill them outright. If I introduce a villain in a social setting without being very careful, they are already assuming they are the villain and will work against them, even if they are really just a frenemy that may or may not evolve into the villain.

 

My successful villains has been as follows:

 

The Multiple Mercenary: This is a guy that has a reputation for success (think Fett), hires a bunch of mercs to dress and act like him (i.e. he pays them a good percentage of the jobs they take for him). When the party first met him, it was actually a duplicate. When the party killed the duplicate, they were contacted by the guy at extreme range at a later time (about a week later) congratulating them on a job well done and starting the rivalry.
They never did know if they fought and killed the real one. .. 

 

The Ally Turned Villain: This can have a few approaches, but you basically take a character the party works with and trusts (I've used politicians, soldiers, and even just bartenders). Then add a big issue that puts this person in hot water (new position they can take, being captured and tortured behind enemy lines, watching the bar getting burned down). Make a reason for them to want to turn on the party (it is part of a backroom deal to get the position, part of the brainwashing indoctrination, they had a large tab they never paid). Boom, instant villain that knows the party.

For an actual example, I had a Padawan that survived Order 66 as an NPC to help the force-sensitives in the party learn a few tricks. She was a Y-Wing pilot for the Rebellion and, during a heated battle, ejected but was not recovered due to everyone having to GTFO; it was assumed she was dead. She returned later on with two red lightsabers and bitter feelings of being left behind, tortured, and when her "gift" was discovered, she joined the Inquisitorious.

 

The Patron Turned Traitor: This one can be cliche depending on how you do it. Yes, in some circles it is expected that the Hutt is going to hunt you down over something stupid. But what if the party always did well by them and they decided to turn against them; not over a botched job, but something bigger. Perhaps because they are worth more money than the services provided. Maybe they are paranoid that the party knows too much of the operation they run. It could even be that the patron is promoting some sort of rivalry and doing a bunch of behind-the-scenes madness that can make the party confront them later.

Here's a kicker for you: I had a Hutt with multiple smugglers working for him. At times, he assigned the same cargo to multiple ships to see who would succeed. This often lead to a lot of rivalry among his smugglers as they sabotaged each other. He would often hire groups to sabotage his own smuggling groups just to hold something over their heads. There was also the time he recorded the multiple parties duking it out and having Imperials come in to cause it. . .which was then mass produced, sent out across the galaxy and the party realized they were essentially blacklisted.

 

 

 

In any case, each of the villain ideas have to be carefully done. Too obvious, and the villain is going to be hated outright and possibly killed too early. Not obvious enough, and the party will feel slighted.

 

If you really want a villain messing with the ship, there are more creative things than leaving a note. For example, the controls can be locked and you'll need a slicer to get it fixed, but there's a little bit of code that is clearly a foreboding warning.

 

You could also have different types of sabotage that you wouldn't notice until it's too late. For example, they get settled in with the cargo, hit the comm to request clearance to leave, and boom, the comms blast out a signal to everyone in range with a vague threat planted by the villain.

 

 

And, as others have said, it may help if you have a better idea about your villain before you go willy-nilly with things said villain is going to do to the party. . .

 

 

Basically, with your idea, get CREATIVE. Don't limit yourself too much.


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#17 Brother Orpheo

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 12:45 PM

...Keyser Soze style.

This.


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#18 segara82

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 03:19 AM

Villain seems so misnomed considering the chars are busy doing illegal stuff.
I rather call them Antagonists.
And I introduce them doing their in-universe job.

So far they met a pair of Mandos that moonlight as bounty hunters. They actualy helped my players to get their first ship by shooting and arresting the pirates owning it. When they parted one of them mentioned that their (players) bounty was too low to interest them ... NOW.
Since they saw how fast and easily they overpowered the pirates they are not interested in getting on their bad side.

Depending on who they work for and what they do (and get caught with) i have plans for an Imperial Captain of a spanking new Imperial Star Destroyer I hunting dissidents and Separatists out at the Rim, a Customs officer looking for smugglers, and of course rival gangs and groups.

Edit: For clarification: My group starts at 19 BBY when the Empire starts its Reconquest of the Rim.

Edited by segara82, 04 March 2014 - 03:21 AM.

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#19 LogansArray

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 09:36 PM

It seems inevitable in retrospect that my first post on these forums is in a Villain discussion. :)

I agree with segara82 that quite often the party is one step from Villains themselves, so their antagonist is often just somebody in their sphere of influence with A. the power to stop them and B. the motivation to do so. That being said, sometimes its very gratifying to create a enemy that everyone finds intimidating and disgusting.

 

I often introduce villains in my Role-plays through a series of traps or misdirection, he/she only showing himself when they are behind bars, being tortured or picking apart the loot on bodies they mistakenly assumed was the villains. After all, what's to be impressed by if he can't outmaneuver the group two or three times?

 

One trick I've used to good effect is to introduce a fairly sympathetic NPC and shortly after their introduction they come under attack by the villain, or as Brother Orpho mentioned, the Dragon. The party aren't even a part of the struggle, the villain is after the NPC, they just throw themselves into the fray, and get to see first hand the kind of loyalty the villain inspires in his soldiers, the conflict at the center of his and the sympathetic NPCs struggle, and hopefully, a memorable line or two. 

 

Queue the freighter or fighter that swoops in and takes the villain to safety, the gratitude of the sympathetic NPC, and all but the promise of future struggles and reward, and bam, you have effectively introduced patron, villain, and hook at once. Does this work out so beautifully every time? Of course not, but its usually A. compelling and B. satisfying, just what the party ordered. ;)


Edited by LogansArray, 06 March 2014 - 09:38 PM.

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#20 kinnison

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 08:27 AM

As others have stated, in EotE most characters are rather easy to squish.  Best to keep major villains out of scenes and only referenced.  Otherwise like my players did they made a rather permanent solution to a villain that reappeared (throwing him off a tall cliff)


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