In Part 1, we discussed knowing what your villain wants to do and what he needs to do it. In this essay, I’ll talk about creating a plan and why to use plot devices.
The next step is to write down a plan of some sort. Most goal setting programs use a time frame of 5 to 10 years or more but we’re working with a game campaign so we’re going to compress things because more action in less time makes better game. So in order to succeed, Islan Xanti needs to be able to do this within a year.
Using a Plot Device
A plot device is an element introduced into a story solely to advance or resolve the plot of the story. In the hands of a skilled writer, the reader or viewer will not notice that the device is a construction of the author; it will seem to follow naturally from the setting or characters in the story. A poorly-written story, on the other hand, may have such awkward or contrived plot devices that the reader has serious trouble maintaining suspension of disbelief. – Wikipedia
Now, villains are smart guys or they wouldn’t have all that power. So why isn’t he taking 10 years? 20? 200? In this example, the villain is a god so the long view is certainly within his purview. This is where you step up as a GM and employ the infamous Plot Device. I’m going to say that his high Priest needs to perform a ritual on a certain day to bring Islan fully into the world or else the stars won’t align correctly for another millenia or two.
This gives him reason to hurry it up more than is realistic. Other ideas might be that your villain needs to get the Gem of Destruction before someone else who is after it right now or if he doesn’t kill that part member before the end of the 5th adventure, the PC gets the armor that makes him too strong to kill. Your scope and your world will determine what kind of plot device you use. Pay attention to that indented paragraph up there and don’t make it too obvious or fit poorly with your campaign.
I also recommend you choose a device that gives you a hard date as opposed to one more fluid. You can, as the GM, tweak thing with more plot devices so that the PC doesn’t get that Chainmail +6 vs the villain until a certain day but you’ll need to be careful to keep your machinationsfrom being too transparent to the player characters.
At this point, the process has actually moved on – we now have at least two forces at work now. The villain and whatever is driving your plot device – be it a henchman of the villain or the good guys who are going to thwart him. At this point you might want to employ a spreadsheet or calendar if the two forces are opposed. In my example, we’re keeping it simple and they’re working together so I’m still dealing with just one set of goals.
Stay Tuned for Part 3!