Palandar

Keeping Villians Alive

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So I have some characters/villains that I would like to be reoccurring. What are some techniques and or builds you use to keep them around longer? Two of the villains are not the behind the scenes types, one is a Bounty Hunter and the other hasn't yet revealed themselves as an enemy yet. Once thing I notice is the system can be very deadly and it is hard to keep npcs alive if they focus fire them. The BH in question did a number on them but 3 or 4 rounds in they had him on the run. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks!

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First, explain to your players that you'd like to have certain characters survive for a while, some of them being named villains.

Second, when their threshold is reached, nothing is stopping you from having them run away or use some genius means to escape.

If you'd rather play more by the rules then use their henchmen to escort the villain away and use other henchmen to hold the players off.

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Bad guys can buy stimpacks also.

Bad guys can have decoy doubles, Obi Wan did it disguised as Rako Hardeen in Clone Wars.

A bad guy not interested in being shot doesn't let themselves be put in a position to be shot.

Bad guys would have all manner of throw down disposable minion fodder to soak up hits with the squad rules.

Bad guys always have jetpacks/rocket boots.

 

Tear44, GroggyGolem, Sarone and 4 others like this

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Most of the time I don't let the players know how much wounds any enemy they face can take. So when they are close to their threshold (or above) they can start running. That way the players don't feel cheated.

It could be through an escape pod, a smoke grenade, a secret passage, rocket boots, by getting reinforcements that cover their escape, or the players killed a double, or any other trick (only use each trick once though).
The bad guy could go unconcious as well, depending on you want to risk your players would kill him while he's out. But if the PCs don't kill him he could make some cool escape later.

If you don't want your players to feel cheated you should leave something behind in the encounter. Maybe the bad guy dropped his super cool blaster, or left some evidence about his secret lair, his best minion was killed in the encounter when covering the escape, or maybe they permanently injured the bad guy next so time they see him he has an eyepatch or some other evidence of the encounter.

The players should at least feel that they get something for risking their characters lives. Like that they are closing in on the bad guy, or weakened their opponent in some way.

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Posted (edited)

A bad guy that they don't WANT to kill is another option - if it happens to be someone that a PC has a connection with in the past (and for whom a sudden attack against them seems out of character) then they're more likely to employ non-lethal methods. Likewise, if the person might have (or is definitely known to have) important info then there's a good case for keeping them in mostly one piece.

Edited by Garran

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There are two types of villain, the guys who are front who live on their skills and those that live on their wits. The former always have a risk of dying, but are cunning enough to engage with full support, one time my entire party decided to rush the inquisitior so he simply backed off and let the storm troopers they ignored handle it. Needless to say most of the party got captured and it required a rescue effort some weeks later(narratively) to liberate them.

the Other type of villain is the mastermind, the imperial Moffat, or other leadship figures that have some influence but isn't much of a threat physically. These villains rarely interact with the party without intending a strong getaway plan or from afar. One memorable encounter was when we as undercover pirates went to a imperial govener to "work for the empire", when our nemesis stepped around the dining table and helped himself, the party force sensitive noticed that via sense there was at least twenty men at short range. Needless to say that nemesis knew who we were and simply made his offer to work as double agents, threatened causally to target their loved ones with full imperial authority and promised rewards. In a previous encounter he had actually surrendered to the alliance, only for the party to upload a various given to then by their own captain who was a double agent. Needless to say, he was never exposed to gunfire and survived for 3years in and out of game to continue the imperial projects. He was only killed when he underestimated the party assassin who, despite being captured planted bombs on a support strut, sending him down under the sea of kamino.

it is also worth remembering that a villain may have an objective that they wish to accomplish. Thieves aim to steal, assassins aim to kill one person and sometimes a nemesis may aim to distract, drawing the entire party away from target so the other may enter the targets domain unresisted. As soon as they accomplish or fail that task, they start a getaway. Chases are part and parcel of Star Wars and no villain is going to hang around in a unfairiabke fight. Tempt the party to spilit up regularly

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Maybe less of a nemesis per se, I really like the character of Hondo Ohnaka from Rebels (and the Clone Wars I guess, but I haven't seen that): He's not really an enemy, neither is he an ally. He has his own agenda and acts to his own benefit, sometimes supporting the main cast, sometimes against them. At the same time, he is way too charming to kill him, was he an NPC in the game.

In Enter the Unknown page 86, there's a section about nemeses which might be worth a quick read, one of them being the rival (not the game term): A NPC who is not a direct adversary, but an antagonist operating in the same field as the players. He is not enemy enough to warrant killing him, but can develop into a greater adversary.

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Posted (edited)

So basically you want to have a Jango Fett style bounty hunter who can go in and get out alive?

Equipment, equipment, equipment. It starts with the armor which can go up as high as soak 6. Jetpacks, Jump Boots, etc create the mobility for a quick retreat and entrance, 
Next is damage mitigation, the armor is a good start, but ranks in endurance and/or decent enough brawn values are not a bad idea either, furthermore talents which reduce the effect of critical hits are good too. Those are tough guys, so make them tough. 
Lastly there is damage avoidance. There is no reason not to go all out with ranks of adversary on this type of NPCs, sure standard inquisitors come with just 3 ranks, but even a black sun Vigo is already at 3 ranks, and top bounty hunters like the clone wars bounty hunters are most likely in aversary 4 area or have instead other avoidance talents (Dodge, Sidestep, etc) instead.  The best part about this kind of avoidance is that they become highly unattractive primary targets, especially when other softer targets with heavier weapons around. So a blaster wielding adversary 4 guy with soak 12 is usually left for last while his soak 6 allies with the autofire rifles get taken care of first. 

Lastly, even those tough guys are not suicidal, they don't go in when heavily outnumbered, they don't go in without backup either and they usually have a plan which makes winning highly probable. If they don't have such a plan then they would not engage and seek for an escape path instead already. Discretion is the better part of valour.

NPCs like Hondo Ohnaka come with enough mooks to use the squadron rules, NPCs like Cad Bane would often use rivals are other nemesis class characters as backup, while only using minions when absolutely necessary, Bounty Hunters like the Fetts wait for the right moment to Ambush usually … and the one time when they lost their cool and when straight in against superior numbers, well both died in the movies in rather unspectacular ways in that case. (I know, legends had Boba survive, but that is just a destiny point flipped afterwards to have this particular npc return for more). 

 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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And on the opposite side of the equation, be prepared to "Kill your darlings."

As a PC, If I've put the effort into killing the bad guy they'd better stay dead!

And because our GM does this kind of stuff, one of our force sensitives, beheaded the downed inquisitor and dragged the head to an airlock to make sure that (insert expletive) was never seen again!

Indeed, I was involved (past tense) in a campaign where we were specifically tasked with hunting down and capturing/killing a super evil bad guy.  After five exhaustive sessions, we got the guy, cuffed and stuffed him and turned him over to the brass.

Next session the GM starts explaining some BS story 'bout how the higher ups decided to cut him lose.  I quietly packed up my stuff and walked away from the table to never again participate with that campaign.

If your players cant achieve some semblance of victory from time to time, there's no point in showing up at your table.

Oh, and if their kid's, dad's, cousin's, uncle's, aunt's, friend's, niece comes looking for vengeance, they best be prepared to occupy the real estate just feet from the nemesis' grave.

The biggest mistake that you can make as a GM is to not let the PC's "kill your darlings."

This doesn't mean that you make the bad guy's "pop up targets" to be just knocked down.  Sure use every tool available to make the bad guy's survivable, and to act with reasonable self interest, but don't you dare hand wave an inexplicable survival when the PC's drop a Proton Torpedo on the Big Bad Evil Bad Guy's head.

Besides, nature abhors a vacuum and if the PC's eliminate one threat, there will be another threat to deal with too.

Magnus Arcanus likes this

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While SEApocalypse does offer some excellent advice, soak 6 armour (assume a monster constructed using the custom armour rules) is something i'd avoid acknowledging the existance of, unless you want group wearing it.

Mark Caliber likes this

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12 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

but don't you dare hand wave an inexplicable survival when the PC's drop a Proton Torpedo on the Big Bad Evil Bad Guy's head.

Or you go completely over the top. I had a bad guy who had been a intermittent thorn in the players side get into a fight in a vast underground cave, with active lava waterfalls. The jedi runs her through with a saber, she snarled something defiant and then toppled over into the yawning black abyss below them (and then the volcano started blowing up because she was a Load Bearing Boss). And then they dropped a star destroyer on her from orbit. I slyly wink at the players and say "Looks like there is no way that anyone could have survived that!"

When she did show up again, she was all cybered out, more machine than man, from the encounter - and really, I could only get away with that once. So from that point, I had her operate via proxy and through minions. Nothing says Badguy Supervillian Nemesis like kidnapping an NPC, brainwashing them and forcing them to fight their friends!

 

SEApocalypse likes this

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35 minutes ago, Plan b said:

While SEApocalypse does offer some excellent advice, soak 6 armour (assume a monster constructed using the custom armour rules) is something i'd avoid acknowledging the existance of, unless you want group wearing it.

True. 
And I think the actual maximum for armor against blaster and flame attacks is 5, while 6 against strain damage and 4 against other weapons. 

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Sort of a side note, but this turned out to be a neat trick:

A while back, I wanted to introduce a recurring ISB agent.  When the PCs first encountered the ISB, there was a nameless Deputy along with a named ISB agent whom I suspected they would kill.  (They did.)  I suspected the PCs would be more likely to let the mooks go, but I could just try next time if they decided to go all Scorched Earth.  Well they sure tried, but the ISB man got to be a pulp hero in his own right, Gained a Rank in Badass (TM), and turned again leading the pack the next time the ISB had to get involved.  By then, he had a real name and a couple more squares on his badge.  PCs decided then and there that they thought this guy was on the level.  They already had a shared history, so it was a little easier to accept without feeling forced.  Also probably helps that Agent ISB Man is a consummate professional who is direct and not overly talkative. (My villains like to monologue from time to time.)

The other major adversary is this mob boss the PCs have never met and are likely to only meet once.  He has an entire family of pop-up villains who are taking the PCs on one by one like they're samurai or something.  It hasn't been a successful strategy, (for them) but it makes sense since they're not inclined to work together- the one lieutenant who actually WINS will gain renown over all the others and be at the good graces of the boss.

Guess my best advice at this point is to go ahead and use the tropes, because they work for a reason.  However it seems to work best when you mix things up between two or more different styles of adversaries who operate by different rules.

Mark Caliber likes this

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Thank you everyone for your replies and great ideas! I don't to cheat my players out of victory but I feel that reoccurring characters add a lot of flavor to the star wars universe. They were able to take out the bounty hunter in question and surprisingly didn't kill him. They know he'll be back at some point, but they do not know what capacity.

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Dont put them in combat if you want to keep them. You probably want to plan that you may get 3 actual fights out of any individual bad guy before the players will go to extreme lengths to make them dead. Jango Fett lasted 3 fights and Boba all of one in the movies. 

Having the magic escape is a good idea, but you can only do it rarely before your players will start bogging the game down trying to prevent it. What you want to do it have the bad guy be in the background as long as possible, then the fight where one side or the other barely escapes, then the rematch that the players should win. 

Or you could just make it so that the players wont win by combat. The bad guy has too many minions or too many contacts so that shooting him will just be bad. Make the players think about other ways to take him down. In the last EotE game I ran, there was a Bounty Hunter that took an interest in the party. He was extremely skilled and had alot of minions, and the characters were not combat types. The characters were extremely good liars tho, and they took the guy out by framing him when they broke a Rebel friend of theirs out of imperial detention. I think that storyline had like 4 personal encounters, 2 space battles and half a dozen social encounters and they never once actually fought the dude. 

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