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Thoughts on Evolving Villains


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We're not talking about your average "Thug w/Gun" but the real villains. Normally I will warn Players: I like to use reoccurring villains. What this means is that they will learn and adapt to the players.

 

When doing character generation I tend to go for group discussion and design using DC and Defense limits versus active points. This allows the the Players to help balance each other out and avoid stepping on each others toes. it also gives me a better idea of how they may function as a group later on.

 

Villains tend to be designed around their own stick/resources and motivations. However, after a few encounters with the PCs their may start picking up more specific when they know they're going up against the team.

 

So questions:

 

Has anyone else taken up this concept and how has it worked in your games?

 

Have you had villains evolve into something completely different from the original concept?

 

How many reoccurring villains do you use?

 

It seems that having more than a small rouges gallery under this philosophy may seem to be picking on the Players. This is a GM image I try to avoid. To do so I tend to keep Evolving Villains to the more intellectual category and don't apply this to super brutes.

 

What has been your Players reactions to seeing villains who are preped for them?

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

Had a Zodiac group of villians that showed up frequently and adjusted their tactics to the PC's and I think it went really well. The PC's thought they had everything planned for (who would fight who and so on) but things changed really quick once they learned the villians were ready for them.

 

The villians managed to hold their own for a while until the PC's leaned that the same old thing was going to work on them.

Since it was a Zodiac group I had 12 villians to pick from all with different abilities so preparing for a fight required me to think outside the box.

(Follow the link in my sig to where they are posted, they are being reworked right now but I'll repost the first again soon)

I think they did very well as recurring villians and if nothing else they forced my PC's to think their way through a fight rather than smashing their way through.

 

Hope this answers your question.

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

I like using this kind of idea, and have implemented a variety of variations of these.

 

One villain organisation is more of a group of parahuman soldiers/terrorists so I've tried to have them come across as a group who is regularly prepared to try to counter the heroes.

 

I have one still not fully revealed criminal organisation called the Phoenix Syndicate that is essentially made up of the members from several older smaller teams who have come to realise that the Champions of Justice keep growing and so staying a 5-8 man team wasn't a good idea. Similarly, the Collectors and Hazard, Inc. joined forces to become the Collection Agency.

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

I had a GM in a different genre game do something like that, and I think it made for some of the best role-play we ever had. The villian started out as an npc/pc in our group and evolved into our arch-nemesis. Since he knew us and how we fought we constantly had to adjust our tactics to win. Everytime we knew we would have to face him, it became a strategy session of what can he do now vs what can we do.

 

It was great.

 

In comics, Joker learns and begins to anticipate how batman will act, as does Lex with supes. It only makes sense, especially for a long-running game where they team will meet the same villian multiple times.

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

EPIC CITY (my campaign) is an evolving story. As such it is only appropriate that the villains grow and evolve. Though I haven't really metamorphed anyone into a completely new aspect, I have changed how many villain organizations approach the heroes.

 

There are many reoccurring villains in my game. The heroes in Epic Alliance (like any good hero group and fortunately for me as a GM) oppose killing (though there have been times...:rolleyes:) and the facilities at Stronghold (Epic City reflects many existing resources) are usually sufficient to keep their prisoners incarcerated. But, often enough, battles end with the villains escaping through treachery, planned escape methods of just plain dumb luck. Some of those villains are too stupid to learn, but most take away a better understanding of their opposition. :eg:

 

In the case of organized crime... Epic Alliance has their hands full! Through clever manipulations Epic City's leading criminal organization; Crime Boss (Crime Boss is an organization, not a single person) has forced Epic Alliance into a symbiotic relationship of sorts. Of course the good guys would LOVE to divorce themselves from this, but Crime Boss continues to keep the status quo by clever manipulation and hones divulgence when necessary. Crime Boss is a great example of a villain group that has evolved over time. The stinging joke within the ranks of Epic Alliance is "We work for Crime Boss". While they refer to this relationship as a joke, many secretly fear it may be true. BWUUUAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahem... 'nuff said.

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

It's been a while since I instituted this, but way back (like, a decade and a half ago), my friends and I ran a series of games in a "shared world" where we frequently used the same characters. For giggles, the GMs often used the same villains.

 

Your "thug w/ a gun" comment amused me, because that's exactly how Demon Dog became a big-time villain. In the early games our GM used a version of "The Hand", ninja-trained assassins and sort of a cross between VOICE and VIPER. One of them showed up three or four times, to our amusement (it was the old "Oh, no, not again!" kinda thing). The next GM, however, took that guy and turned him into a "pack leader", and he seemed bent on revenge. When it was my turn I ran a campaign where small-time heroes were being killed, and it turned out he was earning bonus points for racking up a body count.

 

The next GM turned him into an "Alpha", essentially a group leader, and we had to take the guy down. He went on the run from villains and heroes alike, and turned up later a full-fledged villain, Demon Dog, with his own mercenary group of hi-tech martial artists.

 

No game I've run since then has had the pleasure of watching a villain evolve, but I always loved the fact that we had Demon Dog under our belts as a "success" story for a villain.

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

 

Have you had villains evolve into something completely different from the original concept?

 

 

I had a villain named Braindrain who redesigned his powers with every encounter with the PCs which would would prevent the way they defeated him the last time from working again. The first time he put a dozen psionics into bottles that focussed their powers into his own brain. He was defeated when the PCs woke up the psychics and convinced them to rebel. The second time he put brain draining discs on an entire small town that left them nearly mindless automatons while giving him psychic powers. They defeated him by destroying the dish which recieved their psychic force. The third time he planted cybernetics into his body which enabled him to directly drain minds. They defeated him by a coordinated attack which let them break through his forcefield and break the exposed implants. Had he returned a fourth time, he would have been in a heavily armoured levitating pod (since he was no longer capable of walking)

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

We're not talking about your average "Thug w/Gun" but the real villains. Normally I will warn Players: I like to use reoccurring villains. What this means is that they will learn and adapt to the players.

 

When doing character generation I tend to go for group discussion and design using DC and Defense limits versus active points. This allows the the Players to help balance each other out and avoid stepping on each others toes. it also gives me a better idea of how they may function as a group later on.

 

Villains tend to be designed around their own stick/resources and motivations. However, after a few encounters with the PCs their may start picking up more specific when they know they're going up against the team.

 

So questions:

 

Has anyone else taken up this concept and how has it worked in your games?

 

Have you had villains evolve into something completely different from the original concept?

 

How many reoccurring villains do you use?

 

It seems that having more than a small rouges gallery under this philosophy may seem to be picking on the Players. This is a GM image I try to avoid. To do so I tend to keep Evolving Villains to the more intellectual category and don't apply this to super brutes.

 

What has been your Players reactions to seeing villains who are preped for them?

 

 

MY group loves recurring villains because they love to have an emotional investment in the opposition. My players take great pride in the villain having to adapt for them.

 

One recent example was a series of battle one of the players had with a martial brick. He trashed the first time because he could take and deliver so much punishment. The next time she took a more cautious method and won through her greater agility. The third time he was using more cautious tactics and they fought to a draw before other factors made him flee. She was absolutely thrilled she had gotten "captain macho" to change his tactics.

 

They also enjoy the "gentleman villains" with their own sense of honor to be respected. They've even semi-reformed a couple. They're still not good but they won't hurt anything their PC friend values. Several PCs have their villains private phone numbers. ( especially popular with opposite sex baddies for flirtation and tease with the other side..)

 

I've even had one occasionally recurring immortal villain around since the 80's and as long as he only shows up sparingly he's still enjoyable ( but his descendants influence is everywhere)

 

 

One character's father is even a recurring villain!

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

Has anyone else taken up this concept and how has it worked in your games?

Of evolving villains? Yup. The villains in my games have been evolving for over 20 years in one form or another ;)

 

Have you had villains evolve into something completely different from the original concept?

Definitely. Some were planned as masterminds and have since taken on smaller roles. Others that were planned on being just minor villains have developed into rogue's gallery material.

 

How many reoccurring villains do you use?

I honestly couldn't tell you ... everything is within a shared world structure and I have a TON of villains that fade in and out constantly.

 

It seems that having more than a small rouges gallery under this philosophy may seem to be picking on the Players. This is a GM image I try to avoid. To do so I tend to keep Evolving Villains to the more intellectual category and don't apply this to super brutes.

 

Well, in my main game, there are 4 players that have their own Rogue's Gallery and then the team has one. Every player has some arch-nemesis, but the 4 that have a slew of their own have achieved that status through roleplaying their characters. Just takes a bit of organization on the GMs part, but in the long run, it's well worth it.

 

What has been your Players reactions to seeing villains who are prepped for them?

 

They love it and see it as a challenge. Take one of the mutant members for example, he has an axe to grind with a hate group because they a) tried to kill him and B) are intolerant towards mutants. So now, he's become a champion for mutant rights, while also working with his team to take down the group and the mutant intolerance.

If the villains are well thought out and work within the group's/individual's needs, they can become a staple of your campaign rather than the " Not Him Again!" villain ;)

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Re: Thoughts on Evolving Villains

 

In my Freedom Patrol game Mentalla went from being a hardened member of Eurostar, to betraying them to the Freedom Patrol (which ended with Eurostar getting beaten into defunct status), to being a very useful "information merchant" of dubious character and even more dubious criminal connections they had to go to for tidbits and information on occasion, to actively serving as a "contract agent" along side them in scenarios that included Menton and Doctor Destroyer (both of whom she had "issues" with). These latter ones were especially fun because the players (and their characters) remembered the whole past they had with her - and were aware of her very dubious loyalties, and were absolutely paranoid even as they needed her. There were also some tensions over tactics, though they were essentially black ops agents and not superheroes. She never betrayed them. In fact, she had grown sympathetic to them, despite still being something of an underworld figure. I also had her express and interest, and aggressively flirt, with the character the Director had used to "flip her" in relation to Eurostar (who had really disliked her at the time). Talk about nervous, shifting, deer-in-headlights syndrome... "She'll Eat My Brain!!!!"

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