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Episode One: Very Villanous

Welcome back fans and hello to new listeners! This is the first episode of our second season, and like all good villains, we’re back! Villains are central to all games, since they are the source of most conflict. Not only do we cover Villains-as-NPCs, but also environment-as-villain. Mostly we discuss how to create villains as story elements, but we also give ample examples of how we have used villains in our past games.

We are always active within our little community of gamerdom, and we can be easily reached at 2gms1mic@gmail.com. We also really enjoy hanging out in our Forums, as well as Facebook and Twitter. We always respond to comments right here, too.

So, here’s episode 2-1: Villains!

Favorite Games of the Week

7th Sea Villains Kit
World of Darkness: Antagonists
Weird Adventures

Currently Playing

Nicky and I have been playing the Dresden Files RPG once a month, so be ready for a lot of stuff about Fate! Our regular gaming group has been playing Song of Blades and Heroes, an excellent miniatures game.

Announcements

Season Two! Whoo!

Make sure you check out Rob Lundy’s Console Hopping

Shoutouts

What’s up Aneta!?

Great Job Rob!

Music Section

“Roll the Dice, Make my Day [Stick Jones Remix]” (Stick Jones)
“March” (Dirt Monkey)
“Hide The Cracks [Strangers Remix]” (Sarah Williams White)
“You Can’t Keep Me” (Amy LaVere)

Games Mentioned

Dresden Files RPG
Shard
Savage Worlds
Star Wars
In Nomine
Vampire: the Requiem
Hunter: The Vigil
Castles & Crusades
Ravenloft
World of Darkness
Wicked Fantasy: Orks: Children of Pain
Scion
Dungeons & Dragons
GURPS IOU
Mutant City Blues
GURPS Banestorm
7th Sea
Unisystem is the core mechanic in All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Sorcery & Super Science!
Children of the Sun
Song of Blades and Heroes

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  • Awesome episode guys. One idea I have used is to give the Villain a way to keep tabs on the PCs either by a spy or surveillance device/spell. This can be entertaining as the PC’s figure out they are being outmaneuvered and then figuring out how and dealing with it. I did that in the Scion campaign but I revealed it instead of making you figure it out just because it wasn’t in the best interests of the flow of the story.

    Oh one other thing about villains is the “Twist”. I usually try and think up a twist that allows the villain to escape or come back just in case I need them later. The important thing is to be really creative with the twist otherwise it gets boring and that is the death of many a game.

    Love the show and really wish I was back up there. Miss you guys and the gaming terribly. Oh and when I do make a visit you can bet your dice bags that I will run a supers game for you guys. See I do pay attention to your show. Oh one last thing I wanted to mention is a web site I found. It is called NearbyGamers.com. It is a social connection website for gamers of all types. I has a map that shows you (at each persons discretion) the area you are located, allows you to click on people to read their profiles and you can even search by game system. I am looking forward to meeting some of the local gamers and getting back to gaming.

    Thanks for the show and keep up the amazing work.

    Mattman

    February 21, 2012

  • Regarding the surveillance tactic, we were playing a supers game and i gave the big baddie the ability to hear/see/even travel through a particular symbol he’d drawn in advance. his first contact w/ the pcs was to send them each a mysterious business card with directions to their first adventure signed only with a symbol they didn’t recognize. well, of course they carried that card with them wherever they went so they might be able to reference the symbol if they ever came across it again. so they basically walked around all game with a microphone in their wallet.

    Robere

    February 23, 2012

  • You guys ever have what you might consider a “sympathetic villain?” More than just “doing the wrong thing for the right reason,” but more “i really don’t wanna take this guy down cuz i pity/envy/idolize him, but if i don’t bad things will happen whether they realize it or not?”

    I realized i missed a golden opportunity to have one in my weekly game w/ Kurbis and Bry. They play hunters for Death who track down those who’ve cheated him too often or too greatly (i.e. necromancers, resurrections, etc.). They’re latest target had learned to possess people and over-write their souls so to speak and was spreading like a disease, but every time he possessed another victim his personality would fracture a little more. Basically every body he inhabited favored a certain aspect of his personality over others (like survivalist, megalomaniac, loyalist, protector, etc.), but now that i’m nearing the end of the campaign i’m realizing i’ve really missed out on portraying sides of his personality the pcs could work with instead of against. heck, they could even have been fighting alongside a noble and moral aspect of their target who realized the danger the rest of him was causing.

    Little long-winded, sorry. i guess my question is have you ever pulled off a villain your pcs empathized with but still felt compelled to confront? or do you find the game might get too bogged down with that kind of heavy-handed moral overtone?

    Robere

    February 23, 2012

  • Hey Robre
    Yes I have had occasion to try and run a sympathetic villian. I won’t go into details because it was a total flop. Moral ambiguity can kill a game very quickly unless planned for. The best way to use a villian of this type is as a catalyst for the players to change sides or become aware of some conspiracy within your story/world.
    Making a villian noble or honorable is great for allowning the players to look up to or even develop a love interst in (Bat-Man and Cat Woman for instance) BUT in the end a villian must be a villian or you suck out the energy of the final battle/victory over them. When the game is done you want the players to be pleased with the outcome and rearing for more not going “did we really win” or “was it worth it”.
    A great emotional investment is made in role playing, the more the better even and the last thing you want to do is repay that investment with deminishing returns. It can send players looking for a better return on that investment which is often away from the gaming table.
    Now if your group wants to experiment with a game like this then go for it but it is better going in that they are prepared for the let down of the tragic ending. At least that is my opinion.

    mattman

    February 28, 2012

  • I apologize for the miss spell on your name Robere but this is not my keyboard and it sucks.

    mattman

    February 28, 2012

  • I was kinda wondering if it would suck the life out of the final fight, and it helps to hear this opinion. Thanks man.

    Robere

    February 29, 2012

  • So I almost forgot to tell you about my “enemy within” villain scenario. I was running a campaign of Star Wars, the Saga edition, but I was using an alternate timeline and the PCs were all Jedi. In my alternate timeline Anakin never betrayed the Jedi, instead slaying Palpatine after the death of Mace Windu. So now Anakin is on the Jedi council and is working on bringing balance to the Force. So the council receives a distress signal from a planet in the outer rim and they send the PCs to investigate. When they get there they discover a planet full of natural force users, but what’s really strange is that they also discover a Jedi master many had thought dead. The Jedi master is actually holding the planet together using the force, his essence has caused the entire planet to become attuned to the force. He informed the PCs that some time ago a Sith arrived and stole one of the children. So of course they have to hunt him down. While I had designed a villain, something far better would arise. I had 4 players, again all Jedi. Two of my players had started to do some minor things that were against the Jedi code. I gradually let them become more and more corrupted. After the death of my big bad Sith and his apprentice, the two corrupted Jedi turned on their counterparts. It all culminated in one seriously bad ass PvP lightsaber/force battle. I didn’t plan it, but when I saw it start to happen I encouraged it and enjoyed watching it all go down.

    Nick

    March 21, 2012