Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 1

When I first wrote this entry, it clocked in at 2142 words and that was just too much for anyone to read and digest in one setting. And that was before revisons! So, I’m breaking it up into a series which should be alot easier to read and use.

What does the Bad Guy want?


Image by kingston99 via Flickr

Setting goals and achieving them is a multimillion dollar business in the United States and most people have encountered seminars or essays on the subject. Most of my friends find the advice “fluffy” and not really relevant to their way of thinking – they’d rather blast music from the car stereo than chant mantras while driving. But the steps for goal setting and accomplishing those goals can be used to make a realistic timeline and plan for your villain.

The very first thing you need to determine is just what exactly does your villain want to achieve anyhow? Does he want to rule the kingdom, the world or destroy all life in existence? There are alot of goals a villain could have from merely killing one of the party members to annhilating everything in the multiverse and only you know the scope of your game. Your villain’s goals and that scope will work hand in hand to determine many things about your campaign.

By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. – Mind Tools

For this essay, I’m going to name my bad guy Islan Xanti and and I want a pretty epic campaign so I’ve decided his goal is to destory all life on Valiant. This guy and his goals will affect everything in my game now. We could maybe include the whole multiverse if I wanted to include other planes as well but I think killing everything on the whole planet is big enough in scope. It also means that no matter what the player characters do, Islan Xanti will affect the world around them. If they succeed in their goals, his influence should be lessened and near the end – thwarted. If they fail…. well, it was nice knowing them.

Alot of the literature on setting goals involves being motivated but that doesn’t really apply to villains. Almost by definition, these guys are obsessive-compulsive about getting what they want so we’re just going to ignore that entire section of the concept and advice about achieving the intent.

First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life, and decide what large-scale goals you want to achieve. – Mind Tools

What does he need to GET it?

One huge difference between a villain and his goals and Joe Schmuck who needs a better job trying to change his life is that you, the GM, decide what the bad guy needs to do in order to succeed. Joe there also needs to make that decision but his choices are far more limited than a world designer extraordinaire. What job he needs, how he’s going to go about trying to get it, the choices he makes in life are far more affected by the world around him than your villain’s will be. If you decide the villain needs to get the Gem of Breaking then that’s what he needs to do – or perform the ritual on the summer solstice or kill the Monarch’s first born child or whatever it is going to take for the villain to succeed – this is entirely in your hands and a huge part of what makes each campaign unique.

In my case, Islan Xanti wants to destroy all life on Valiant and I’ve decided that his complete presence on the world is enough to do so since he is Entropy personified. So his first goal will be to find a way to be completely and totally on Valiant. This concept uses a few ideas from some literature. I can’t remember right now what books I read that used it but I’ve some nebulous idea that his essence is somehow broken up and part of it is on another plane as well as part of it being on Valiant.

Your going to get ideas like this as you work to decide what your villain wants and how he needs to go about getting it. WRITE THEM DOWN! I can’t emphasize this enough. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU THINK OF! You might not use half of it but erasers are cheap and being able to remember that cool idea no one else has ever had is priceless!

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

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4 Responses to “Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 1”

  1. Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 2 « Bard of Valiant Says:

    […] Villains & Goal Setting: Part 2 January 12, 2009 — viricordova In Part 1, we discussed knowing what your villain wants to do and what he needs to do it. In this essay, […]

  2. Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 3 « Bard of Valiant Says:

    […] People are Reading Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 1Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 2Inaugural AddressIncreasing Spell […]

  3. Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 4 « Bard of Valiant Says:

    […] Villains & Goal Setting: Part 4 January 16, 2009 — viricordova Up to this point (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) we’ve pretty much taken care of the meat of how to set good villain-sized […]

  4. Real Villains & Goal Setting: A Summary « Bard of Valiant Says:

    […] What People are Reading Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 4Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 3Real Villains & Goal Setting: Part 2Increasing Spell VarietyReal Villains & Goal Setting: Part 1 […]

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