Day 16: Villain
Game Masters, when creating an adventure story which is better? The obvious villain or the hidden villain? Granted not all situations need an antagonist, but there is usually one in most stories. This is something that GMs should consider when setting up adventures and campaigns.
The Obvious Villain: This could be the dragon that the kingdom needs to have slain. The orc chief that is holding the village hostage. The rival adventure party trying to reach the hidden treasure room first. With a clear obvious villain(s), the party has a goal to focus on. The obvious one would make for an easier setup by the Game Master, however the GMs should not make their antagonists so powerful that the party cannot defeat them. Another problem with a good bad guy is that having them come back from the dead too many times would cheapen the past defeats. Especially if the party took extra steps to make sure the villain cannot come back again.
The Hidden Villain: An example could be the Lich who secretly hires the party to recover his stolen tome. Another possibility is the head of a cult that is also in a position of power within the city. Section 31 working on behalf of the Federation is another hidden villain, doing the dirty work that others don’t want to touch. Some hidden villains may set up an obvious villain as a red herring for the players to chase. The amount of planning and clues would generate a lot of work for Game Masters, but if done well, would make for a great story. The clues would have to be intelligent, without being too difficult or too easy. It’s almost a walk on a tightrope and probably not something that new GMs would want to take on right away.
Day 15 had some pretty good suggestions for topics. I wonder how many blog posts will list a ‘Fiend” as a possible villain? “Move” wouldn’t be a bad topic as movement is a big part of most RPGs and tactical games. “This is not the greatest song in the world, no. This is just a tribute!”