Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words 8/1/2011

Strahd on Nightmare – From the Internet Hive Mind

Making the Foil – a good Villain

Jim Butcher dropped by Magical Words in 2011. He explained that while a story can survive a boring hero, it cannot survive a boring villain.

What makes a good villain?

  1. Motivation
  2. Power
  3. Admirable Qualities
  4. Individuality

Want to know more. Go to the Magical Words post, because rephrasing the words of a master is an exercise in futility. Of course, the comments were equally awesome so be sure to read those as well. How to Build a Villain by Jim Butcher.


My Comments on Villain Creation

Attending my book club a couple months ago, the other members said “Hey, we want to play Ravenloft. You DM. Here!” Suddenly I was holding the Curse of Strahd and needed to put something together in a week. It’s been a slow game thus far with only four hours available to game per week since some members are parents. The “per week” is more like every other week because of everyone’s commitments. I seem to be one of the “free-est” of the lot, and that is saying something.

Anyway, Count Strahd von Zarovich is a villain to end all villains in the D&D world. Not because he is a tank or a Swiss army knife of magic, but because he is a master manipulator. He knows his power base and uses it like a filleting knife. His motivations include leadership and love, which are admirable qualities. But his individuality includes being bored. He knows he is playing with fire by bringing adventurers to his lands, but the best entertainment is when you got some skin on the line.

I’ve been trying to figure out the hook of how he is going to corrupt THIS particular party and finally figured it out today. He is going to hire them, something already set in motion. But not just hire them for a single mission like he has already done, but to shape them to becoming the County Sheriff and his cronies. They will become the law, dealing out all the horror for him, and bringing a new wave of terror to the land.

Most of the players are noobs, except for one. Every now and again the experienced one gets a meta moment, looks at me like “I can’t believe you are doing this and getting away with it.” If I get that look, even as his character agrees to become Sheriff, it will be awesome. That moment is several sessions away, but I think I can do it. Or, more accurately, Strahd – because he is a villain. Wizards of the Coast got this big-bad right.