RPG Corner: Bad guys

This week in RPG Corner I wanted to bring up the subject of enemies. Are there particular creatures you like to fight in your games, or a specific “boss” you remember vividly? I know in our Champions games, the players hated this character Nereid. She was a mentalist, who generally come in for a lot of abuse in that system, and they really loathed seeing her marker pop up on the battle mat. I don’t know if it was the willpower-sapping entangling shawl she’d wrap around people, or the mind-controlling kisses, or what, but the hatred got almost visceral at times.

I never played in a D&D style campaign that had bad guys drawn as vividly as we got routinely in Champions, so I’m curious if the same thing happens to you in other gaming systems. Leave your favorite villain descriptions or encounters in the comments below, I’d love to hear about them.

13 Responses to RPG Corner: Bad guys

  1. Bad guys? “Bad guys” are of course the good guys, who try to stop PCs from breaking into home dungeons of various types of creatures who are just minding their own business, murdering the said occupants, stealing their stuff and mutilating their corpses for alchemical incredients. Damn conservationists. Then there’s also tax collectors, who try to leech in on PCs hard earned booty – total bad guys.

  2. Dead-lands Oni ryu or daemon dragon was a far east gunslinger/ mad-scientist that my players hated. he had style tech and goons to spare and the West landers laws meant nothing to him and his 4 dragons . he made people roll there eyes and scream i loved it .all so i agree with Kalkin

  3. knighthawk

    In a star wars RPG I had not one villain but two different adversaries that would alternate. Every 3rd level the players leveled up to, they would meet a particular droid, and every 4th level was a pair of bounty hunters.

    The droid was a true villain in that it had legitimate returning presence even after it was destroyed each time. The adventure took place between episodes 3 and 4 when the jedi purge is in full effect yet the villain is formed decades before at the time of the phantom menace. A droid control ship is knocked out of hyperspace and the damage to life support systems kills off the crew, yet matinence droids repair the ship. It is left to float for 30-40 years without a memorywipe on a supercomputer makes for one nasty ghost in the system and too far away for the masterconroll signal to shut down. It iniated trade with passing ships and after the several attempts to be overthrown by raiders it began to perform raids itself. This leads to the control ship taking up bounties and dispatching singular droids as agents for assignments to pay for repairs.

    When the players first encountered the droid at level 3 as a standard battle droid leading a gang of desert thugs, at level 6 it was in the shell of a superbattle droid competing in a fighters tournament, then a vulture droid at level 9 during a asteroid race, then as a droideka sniper for their 12th level encounter. Each time they destroyed the droid, they found the same cursable radio receiver where its processor should be.

    The plans were to have them meet again at 15th and finaly the 18th level encounter would have had them storming the ship and fighting their way to the ships core to blow it up!

  4. @ knighthawk very twisted very nice i love it

  5. Let’s see…

    When we played our Middle-earth campaign (Rolemaster 2nd edition), I was always fond of facing trolls: they were challenging enough for my character, always put up just the right amount of danger and pain, and you just couldn’t stop with slaying one. My character also had strong hatred of orcs and trolls, so she of course always waded to the front line to kick their stony butts.

    In one instance our party was camping in the woods, and my character — on account of being a half-elf, thus needing very little sleep — was staying up and guarding the rest. Ten forest trolls (this means they’re at the low end of troll threats) busted into the camp, and my PC kicked up two of the warriors. We charged into the battle, while the rest were still waking up… and our magician opened one eye, said “Huh. Ten forest trolls.” and just rolled on the other side and pulled the blanket over his head so he could continue sleeping; we were shouting to each other things like “Dibs on those three! No, stop killing them, they’re MINE! Morgoth damn you, MINE!”. Once the (very short) battle was over, someone asked why he hadn’t done anything. “I figured you wanted to have all the fun for yourselves. Ten forest trolls, feh.”

    He was right. :D

    In D&D — dragons! They’re nicely varied, cunning, and powerful, and perfectly capable of ruining your day if you slip up. And they come with loot. But if there aren’t any dragons around, statted NPCs are even better: they’re likely to have stats just right to kick your sorry butt… ;)

    In our longest-running D&D campaign we had an arch-enemy in form of a lich squatting in a castle fairly close by; like a true arch-villain, he sent his minions to harass our city, in groups, solo and one time in form of a massive war party. I’m saying “one time” because that turned out to be the last time: by then we had gotten fed up with his antics, not to mention powerful enough to face him, and so we geared up and dealt with the problem for once and all.

    When it comes to the online Marvel campaign I’m playing, my wee mutant cyberpath lass has managed to gather quite impressive rogue’s gallery of personal enemies, and a humongous TODO list to deal with them. At the moment the biggest names on her list are…

    Donald Pierce, Bolivar Trask, Bullseye, Kingpin, Henry Gyrich, Lady Deathstrike, Loki, Lilandra, Magneto, Malice, Mr. Sinister, Purple Man, Sabretooth, Selene, Sebastian Shaw, Silver Samurai, the Hand, Spiral, Ultron, Viper (and thus the entire bloody HYDRA), Belasco…

    Uhhh… yeah. It is a very good thing that my character is a glib rogue-type who is also good at using her powers to survive, and turn enemies against one another. :D

    One of the more memorable “battles” was her hacking into a secure mainframe, and stealing Gyrich’s Project Wideawake plans (our version is a kind of Ultimate take of Earth-616; that is, some historical events have happened and some haven’t, and we’re writing the history anew, fitted to modern day). Although she has never gotten face-to-face with the man, after stealing the plans and doing a controlled release of documents (by using Wikileaks, friendly reporters etc), she did the ultimate dick move on Gyrich, an act which was like herding cats, but so worth it for the lulz:

    She used her incredible Internet skills combined with an insight to how people behave in the ‘net and managed to rile up 4chan and sic /b/tards on him a la Anonymous.

    My GM remarked about how evil I am. ;)

  6. Oh yes. I’ve run all sorts of games and had villains show up and really annoy the players. From out and out conquerors whose presence met an invasion force, to subtler villain working behind the scenes. My players loathe ongoing villains of certain types. So a lot of it depended on the genre. Hellrider, a demonic fire ensconced cowboy who claims to have ridden out of hell on his own. Was a long time villain, a mere suggestion he was involved had the players scrambling to sort out what he might do, how he might do it, and if he’s already had it done. He was manipulative, cautious, egotistical, and more. Oh he’d keep his presence hidden until they figured it out then come on full force. His villain group never mattered as much as he did to them. Despite each being quite powerful. (Some more powerful than him.) Hellrider though was a nasty piece of work and they knew it.

  7. Mine started out as a plague in a mountain pass(Dalor) in the winter. It was snowed in so no one could leave or enter. So, when spring came there was only about 5 people left out of a the standing army of 300+ that were meant to guard Dalor. Pretty much had to leave the place to get help and of course the place was taken over while we were gone.

    The wizard(Zhang Kai) who had set up the plague now was able to move army into the land started taking everything over. Although the Zhang Kai was the master mind to all this he wasn’t actually any were near the Dalor at the time this was happening. He was on the other side of the country and had destroyed about 3 villages and made it look like dragons did it. The royal army then had to go south to fight dragons they thought and had left before getting reports of Dalor being taken over.

    Once it was discovered that the dragon attacks was a decoy we rushed back north only to find the capital city(Shendor) had been taken over. We had to flee and regroup to take the capital back. This took almost a year to do.

    When we finally assaulted the capital there was a bloody battle and the Zhang Kai was finally defeated but, his work wasn’t done yet.

    He had been at Shendor for a year and had used that time to rig the city with magic. When he died the city blow up in a magic explosion. So, it was not a clear victory even after we killed him.

  8. As a DM, I tend to set up local power groups, and let the players blunder in and pick their own priorities while the evil plans continue around them, whether they notice them or not. As a result, I could rarely predict how my storyline (for lack of a better word) would play out.
    One of my players, Tom, was the ringleader by default. And he was a serious rules lawyer. He usually knew just how to fight whatever I threw at them, so everyone followed his lead, at least to some extent.
    One toss off (at least in the planning stages) was a group of bandits led by an Ogre Mage (D&D 2nd edition). Well, a group of bandits, even with the extra firepower, was no real threat to this bunch of lunatics, and they plowed through them in an evening quite easily. But nobody bothered to permanently kill the Ogre Mage. Well, this set of players/characters were rather bloodthirsty, and favored scorched earth tactics. I rarely got to use a villain a second time, so I took advantage of the chance, and he became a recurring menace, in a variety of ways, some of which the players never did connect to him. Sometime later, I found out the reason they never finished him. Tom outsmarted himself. Tom’s Monstrous Manual had a misprint and didn’t mention that Ogre Magi regenerate.

  9. My longest running DnD campaign I ever had to date, the goal was to prevent the two evil demonic brothers to resurect their third – and eldest – brother, Ragnul (which my player usually referred to as Ratnul). My PC were composed of a group of viking-like tribesmen aided by a Paladin from the south(think 13th warrior). While they never saw Ragnul until the end, they often encoutered Mordeur, a traitor who used to be one of their tribesmen not at the employ of the two brothers. No matter how many time they would kill him, he would find a way to get resurected (as a undead, a golem, by possesing one of them, as a living room etc.) My PC loved to hate im, and I loved to play him.

  10. Played a few times in a high-powered DDD&D realm (Dieties, Demi-gods Dungeons & Dragons). Our principle adversaries were Loki and Lolth. Was heck on our samurai PC: “Watch out! Here comes Roki and Rorth!”

  11. knighthawk

    As I mentioned in the first post, there was two groups that plagued my players in star wars. Aside from the droid who handled martial challenges with no force powers and too many upgrades, there was a pair of force users that made the players grip their dice till their knuckles were white.

    “Farfind” was a Rodian findsman, (a type of force using bounty hunter) and his youngling human apprentice. The youngling was very powerful with his telekinesis but lacked all focus so his actions were like that of a shotgun. The rodian acted as a father figure to try and teach the boy control, an aspect often discussed in the middle of a conflict. “No child, if you have to break a limb, strike the upper arm: It heals the easiest and stops the whole arm instead of breaking the hand which takes forever and might not heal right.” These statements confused the players as the findsman was always trying to incapacitate but not kill the players. where the boy was always trying to show off his power. In the first encounter, they boy had pulled a force amplification helmet to his hands from one of the players, the jedi in the group waved his hand and said “Give me the helmet.” The boy sent the helmet to the jedi, at 30 MPH. they encountered the pair several times in their adventures (every 4 levels) and each time they escaped fairly ligitimately.
    At level 4 they first met the pair as the players, already exausted from a dungeon crawl to get a helmet. The pair were looking for the same helmet and a fight ensued. When the boy was wounded badly the findsman waved his hand and said “Sleep” to the boy, then to the players. They woke up an hour later unharmed and with the helmet, but its jewels were removed.
    At level 8 they met again in a hoth-like planet where the boy reversed the power of force lightning, from speeding up the molecules in the air to a plasma state to slowing them down to a liquid state and drenched the players. Liquid on a frozen planet made an ice sheath that let the pair escape while the players broke free and warmed up.
    The 3rd time they met was at 12th level. This time the findsman sought them out when his student left him to learn from another master; this one of the of the zeison sha teachings, true masters of TK. And the boy stole the gems from the helmet as well. How they handled the mission would decide the fate of the boy, if they just ran in slaughtering the Zeison sha teacher, the boy would learn that might makes right and become a villian, if they won through words and peace, the boy would rejoin his findsman master and help defeat the players sith lord villian.

  12. I remember playing back in high school, running AD&D 2nd Ed. with my friends, and one of them bought the Dark Sun module. He wanted to basically just run things around, see if we liked the world, and just basically see if we could break the system. One of the NPCs he tossed in with our group was a dwarf Preserver/psionicist named Bilbo (he liked snagging names from fantasy books). Bilbo wasn’t necessarily a “bad guy” in the traditional sense. He was, however, played masterfully by our DM as the greatest annoyance ever in the history of our games. No other character has yet matched Bilbo. He constantly got us into fights and then left, and had no problems using force on us when we turned on him. One funny instance was when our half-giant picked Bilbo up, unfortunately just after Bilbo drank a fire-breathing potion. Due to some lucky rolls, the half-giant only lost his eyebrows, but that sealed the deal. We hated Bilbo.

    The kicker was, looking back at the end of the campaign, the little dwarven bugger ended up being an Avangion, basically a Prestige Class Preserver. And all the crap the DM put us through with Bilbo actually moved the campaign along. So, who’s more of a “bad guy” here, Bilbo or the DM?

  13. My villan for 3.5 d&D was a wicked 18th level vampire fighter named Kedrix the Desolate , who had also gotten his filthy hands on the sword of Kas and demon plate armor AND a ring of protection +5.