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Old 10-09-2013, 06:46 PM   #10
Peter Knutsen
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Europe
Default Re: What makes a good villain?

I posted a vague sketch, using GURPS mechanics, for a Satanically empowered villain, over in the GURPS forum, probably about 2 years ago. A master manipulator, with a huge stack of Limited Smooth Operator Talent, and other Limited Advantages too.

It's not something I've done anything with yet, but it's an obvious thing for my Ärth setting, where Satanic demon-worship is an existing (underground) religion, inspired by the freeware RPG system Quest FRP (v2.1 and 2.0). In Quest FRP, in exchange for signing over one's soul (the main effect of this is to make resurrection impossible, which is a lesser deal in Sagatafl's magic system, as it's a rare in-world effect), one gets various Granted Powers, and can also call upon certain Grades of Demons, to bargain with them (usually the bargain price is a nasty deed, such as torturous Human sacrifice) in exchange for the Demon doing a particular thing for one (often using its specific power).

My suggestion for GURPS was based almost exclusively on the Granted Powers thing, but I actually think the Sagatafl version will be more like in Quest FRP 2.1, with options both for Granted Powers, permanent as long as the character lives a "proper" Satanic life, and summoning Demons to bargain for specific favours.

Another possibility is mind control. I'm fascinated by the possibility of mechanizing a control structure system such as Tolkien's One Ring and subordinate rings, or indeed the psi-tech torcs from May's "Pliocene" series.

So that's another possibility for a villain, crafting magical items that both empower and enslave the wielder. Naturally Sagatafl's magic systems has, among them, an inborn Ring-Maker Power, and of course it's extra good at making these kinds of mind-controlling finger rings, arm rings and neck rings.

Mechanizing that, how the control acts as a game-mechanical force that is not absolute in nature, but instead has a certain strength defined in game mechanical terms (a numerically rated strength, that interacts with relevant character stats), is somewhat of a challenge, although it's become a lot easier after I added Flaws to Sagatafl (think GURPS' Self-Control roll mechanic for mental disads, just in a wider and more amokky version).

Another option again is a necromancer, not one who's specialized in raising hordes of boring zombies, skeletons or ghouls, but rather one who has one or a very few powerful Undead Minions, either incorporeal Wraiths or corporeal Wights.

One possibility here is a Wight who can achieve a very convincing fakery of being a living Human, thus infiltrating Human society that way (something that the necromancer himself may find hard, if he has accumulated unPopularities bad Reputations, or GURPS-style OPHs, or has become a Lich).

Another is a Wraith who's a sort of ghostly sorcerer, wielding strong powers of Fear, Shadow and Cold. Fear and terror can be particularly useful weapons. (Another option is as captain or general of a large Undead army, or even an army of living beings.)

One interesting possibility is that such Minions, or indeed any non-Lesser Undead, might retain shards of its pre-death personality. That may be the default state, and by default an annoyance that the necromancer must expend precious Essence to get rid of (getting himself a "clean slate" Minion), but potentially pre-death memories, skills and particular passions (such as protectiveness, or various forms of hatred or desire for revenge) can be cleverly exploited, basically getting a slightly more powerful Minion relative to its Essence cost, if the right dead person is chosen as its basis, instead of just any random corpse or soul.
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