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

Table of Contents

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!

8 thoughts on “Love-to-hate-them villains: a how-to guide”

  1. Pingback: The evil guys - how to paint them black in a greyscale world « cyberpunk2020
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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… ;)

Leave a Comment