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Love-to-hate-them villains: a how-to guide

Written by Expy - Published on April 15, 2008

D&D Tuesday tips for DMs (DNDTTFDM) 04-15-08 

PCs are the backbone of your campaign.  Villains help flesh out the adventure!  Here are some easy ways to make that villain brilliant, annoying, intrusive, challenging.  In other words, these are my thoughts on making villains easy to hate and remember!

The love-to-hate-them villains should:

  1. Miss appointments.  The villain asks the PCs to meet him… But he ends up sending a minion with a “sorry I couldn’t make it” note.
  2. Use fancy vocabulary.
  3. Have friends in common with the PCs.  You’d like to punch that villain in the throat but he’s friends with your good friend Otto the innkeeper!  What do you do?  Nothing!
  4. Know powerful people.  The villain’s plans are conducted by the unknowing authorities.  You mess with the villain, and you mess with the law.  That’s annoying.
  5. Send their minions get slaughtered in their stead.  It’s hard to hate someone you just dispatched.
  6. Speak slowly.  Very slowly. Or have any other annoying vocal habit.
  7. Be good.  That villain is lawful and good, but stupid or manipulated so that he doesn’t realize he’s causing harm. It’s hard to deal with someone who well-meaning, but they’re still annoying.
  8. Fight with a rapier.  Gawd I hate swashbucklers.
  9. Be cocky. And be so talented and gifted that they always get away with it.
  10. Be vanquished.  Last but not least.  At some point let the PCs have some fun!

I probably missed a bunch.  What do you think?  Leave a comment and tell us!

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Written by Expy

Meet Expy The Red Dragon

Expy is the mascot for DungeonMastering.com and the real mastermind behind Expy Games. He likes to hoard treasure, terrorize neighbors, burn down villages, and tell white dragon jokes..

No matter how fearful the legends claim dragons are, they always end up being defeated in 5 rounds by adventuring parties they encounter. That’s what dragons are – experience points for the heroes in your Dungeons & Dragon party. And this mascot is no different, hence the name Expy.

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8 Responses to “Love-to-hate-them villains: a how-to guide”
  1. Maikl says:

    11. Know about everything players do.

  2. Asmor says:

    12. Comes back when you least expect ’em…

    Nothing surprises the PCs quite like a villain reappearing after they killed him and took his head as a trophy… ;)

  3. Jason says:

    Save-or-lose-tongue really makes the PCs hate the villain.

  4. Michael Natale says:

    13. Have the villain send a thug to beat the tar out of one of the PCs – not permanently damage them but beat them into unconsciousness (if they can). Of course the villain has an alibi but everyone KNOWS it was his/her order.

    14. Have the villain openly friendly and influential with (for example) the city council or mayor and have the PCs continually bump into city officials barring their progress in the villain’s name. You can’t kill ALL the city guards…

    15. Have the villain steal a prized magic item from one of the PCs and then wear/use it publicly, much to the adoration and amusement of the commonors in town.

  5. Adalore says:

    16. Give them a victory dance, and do it when the PC’s are watching and eavesdropping.

  6. Issac says:

    Make the villain an ally, until story arcs climax, then betrayal then return in reacuring arcs. Annoying, frustrating, and appealing. Plus, get one of the players intimatly connected, like a relative, or childhood friend or lover. thats a hard thing to kill.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. The evil guys - how to paint them black in a greyscale world « cyberpunk2020 says:

    […] was I? Ah, right. Yax, over at dungeonmastering.com, wrote an D&D related article on how to greate a love-to-hate … Some stuff (also taken from the comments) might be useful for cyberpunk, too. In the comments I […]

  2. […] was I? Ah, right. Yax, over at dungeonmastering.com, wrote an D&D related article on how to greate a love-to-hate … Some stuff (also taken from the comments) might be useful for cyberpunk, too. In the comments I […]

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