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 goals and work them into adventures for your party. Here are some tips to make sure you villain makes for a good game.
Be as specific as possible.
You don’t need all the detail right now but the more you can come up with during this process, the less you need to figure out later. Also, measurable goals with easily defined acheivements make it a thousand percent easier to build adventures.
Your villain will probably have more than one iron in the fire at a time. After all, he might need the pick and the flunky to get the Gem but there’s no reason he can’t be screening flunky candidates while compiling the materials to build the tool. This will give you an idea of the identity of the villain’s subordinates. Setting priorities gives you his organizational structure. And more adventure fodder!
Keep operational goals small!
Telling your PCs that they need to keep the villain from getting the Gem is great background story but if they don’t have an acheivable goal such as killing Bad Guy #6 before the villain hires him and gives him the Armor vs Party +8, they’re going to get frustrated and angry. Give them concrete things they can set out after and acheive.
Be flexible! One things I’ve learned in 26 years of gaming is that players never do what you expect! Be willing and able to change the goal plan of the villain to reflect what the party actually does during a given adventure. Also, if they’re just not interested in saving the world, make their personal goals tie in with your story. If the mage wants that Staff of Cool +4, well – give it to Bad Guy #3 who’s collecting the wood for the Mining Pick handle right now.
Balance the goals.
If the PCs keep Islan Xanti from being born, I have no story but I don’t want to set them up to fail either, as that will just frustrate them and understandably so. So my first adventure might be that they need to convince the mother who just gave birth to tell them what happened so that they know Islan was born. Or I might make it more empherial – while defeating the evil Cleric who took over the Tower of Strength near the village, they find a scroll prophecying Islan Xanti’s birth – yesterday.
Goal setting is an interesting method of achieving things and while some of its concepts really don’t fit my lifestyle, I think we can all learn how to use elements of it to make better villains, better stories and better adventures!