Article - Good Bad Guys

AuthorTopic: Article - Good Bad Guys
BoE Posse
Member # 112
Profile #0
Okay, so you're going to make a scenario. Presumably you're going to have a villian. This guy will be one of the most important characters in your scenario - after all, it's usually the villian who sets the action going in the first place.

The function of the villain is generally two-fold. First, he gives the scenario focus. "The bad guys" is a pretty vague entity. Usually there's hundreds of them, and you couldn't care less about them either way even when you're fighting them. Having a central villain gives the player someone to hate and someone to chase.

Second, he provides the party with a "silver bullet". Usually, once the villain is dead, that's the end of the road. His underlings can't do anything without him. This of course means that the biggest fight is the last, and your scenario finishes with a nice bang.

If you think you can fill these dramatic needs without a villain character, you're welcome to try. For the rest of us, here's what it takes to make a villain good.

First off, you have to see him. It's very easy to have a villain who sits off in his tower and who you never see until it's time to kill him. However, the best you can hope for with a villain like this is that he'll be okay. He can never be great.

This presents a bit of a problem for scenario designers. After all, if the villain gets close enough to talk to the party or be seen by them, why can't they just kill him there and then? Unfortunately, it's up to you to answer that question. There is no fix-all solution.

In my scenario Revenge, you can kill the Nightmare Guardian as many times as you like - it just comes back. In Tomorrow, the Wickerman pops in and out at will, throwing obstacles in your way and taunting you as he does so. In Spears, Nath flees the battle if it looks like he's going to lose. Perhaps you could make a scenario where the villain is some kind of psychic - telepathically watching your progress and speaking to you as you go. However you solve this problem, solve it you must or your villain will be given no opportunity to be anything more than a bunch of statistics and an evil laugh.

Once you've found a way to get the villain close enough to talk, you then have to decide what they say. Some hardly say a thing at all - their actions speak loud enough (Cornell, for example). Others are very chatty - the Wickerman loves to taunt and sing. But whatever you do, please, please avoid Shakespearean Monologue Syndrome.

Any point where a villain says more than a couple of lines at a go is usually bad (though there are exceptions). First, because it's just plain stupid. Say you're fighting someone - you aren't going to stop and wait for him to finish speaking, you're going to keep fighting him! He should keep any comments short and sweet so he can focus on the important things, like not dying.

Secondly, when players see a big lot of text, their eyes kind of glaze over. They have to get their minds into reading mode and digest all the stuff in front of them. It breaks the flow. If you keep it very short, that text has gone through their eyes straight to their brain before they've even thought about it. Instant impact.

Of course, maybe you think your scenario doesn't need an excellent villain. After all, Selene in Falling Stars was nothing special, but that scenario did fine. The Leaving has no villain at all, and it's still a good scenario. And maybe you're right. It does depend on your scenario. But if you're going to put a lot of focus on one bad guy, make sure he's a good one.

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Ball's in your court, Drake.

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Areni
Revenge
To Live in Fear
Deadly Goblins
Ugantan Nightmare
Isle of Boredom
Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #1
I still insist that Deacon was a minimally functional and sensical villain. :P

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 2123
Profile #2
What if the villian joins you in the end?(or middle) You know what I'm talking about, turning from the dark side to the light side.

How original is this idea? I'd like to know cause i'm using it in my scenerio and if it's really over used then I'll try something else.
Posts: 228 | Registered: Monday, October 21 2002 07:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
Profile #3
I've hardly ever seen it used. Probably because it's very, very hard to do it well.

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Rate my scenarios!

Areni
Revenge
To Live in Fear
Deadly Goblins
Ugantan Nightmare
Isle of Boredom
Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Babelicious
Member # 3149
Profile Homepage #4
What immediately sprung to mind was Star Wars and Final Fantasy III (US). It's been done. As a word of warning -- the "hurr I was being controlled" angle is played out.

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I've got a pyg in a poke.
Posts: 999 | Registered: Friday, June 27 2003 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 2123
Profile #5
I wasn't thinking along the "I'm being controlled by mind power" lines. I was thinking more like "I must try to right to wrongs I've cuased, even though I can't fix them all I must try" thingy.

I don't want to talk about it to much for fear of giving away to much info on my baby...I mean my scenerio...=P I hope my idea works out for the best.

I'm a long way from this point but how do you beta test a scenerio you made? You know, to make sure the bugs are worked out and all (yes I know you know). And do it without everyone getting a copy and ruining the master plan of putting out the best scenerio you can for others to enjoy.

Yes, all I want is to make a game others play and then say, "wow, that was fun, lets eat." Or something like that.

Like I said, I'm a long ways away from this(maybe 5 months to a year).
Posts: 228 | Registered: Monday, October 21 2002 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 455
Profile #6
Amazonian Saga has something along the lines of a villain whose heart you change. Sort of. Not going to try to remember all the twists and turns in that plot.

[ Tuesday, April 13, 2004 22:43: Message edited by: Boots ]

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Forgive them, for they are young and rich and white.
Posts: 265 | Registered: Saturday, December 29 2001 08:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #7
It also involves time travel and rocketship bombs.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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You can take my Mac when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the mouse!
Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
Profile #8
Eh... not really. You travel back in time and prevent the event that made him become a bad guy.

Like I said, change of heart in a villain is really tough to do right. You need your bad guy to not only be convincing as a bad guy, but to have a convincing 'conversion'. I wish you luck.

To beta test, basically you post here, get people to volunteer and email it to them individually. They (hopefully) email you bug reports and artistic comments, which you fix. You can then get them to go through it again or release as is.

Keep in mind that it's not unusual to have dodgy beta-testers. I recommend not sending it out for beta until you think it's good enough to release to the public.

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Rate my scenarios!

Areni
Revenge
To Live in Fear
Deadly Goblins
Ugantan Nightmare
Isle of Boredom
Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 4239
Profile #9
quote:
Originally written by The Creator:

Like I said, change of heart in a villain is really tough to do right. You need your bad guy to not only be convincing as a bad guy, but to have a convincing 'conversion'. I wish you luck.

What if his identity as a villain is ambiguous? If he's just the opposing leader and he switches to your side, he doesn't need to become morally different, he just needs to learn something more about the two sides or decide he can't win and it's best to submit peacefully.

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There are two kinds of game players...those who are newbies, and those who were.
Posts: 322 | Registered: Monday, April 12 2004 07:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #10
I think we are being very general here and not discussing specific situations. We are saying it is possible to do, but doing it well and convincingly well is quite difficult. Just saying how is easy, but carrying it out in a believeable way is the challenge.

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Your flower power is no match for my glower power!
Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00