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Old 10-09-2017, 09:49 AM   #6
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: Advice sought for fleshing out a major villian

I'm of two thoughts regarding "subtlety" here...

It is a GREAT idea to be sure, and one I'd use in a heartbeat for other players. However, I think that in this case, I'd have to be about as subtle as handing a defective firing pin laced gun to the player character involved, before the "ethics" aspect of the NPC would impact sufficiently on the player himself.


For what it is worth, I'm using INTERFACE ZERO as a sort of source book for ideas in generating background events, including "Mercenary tickets" for which the player can either accept, or pass on. The agency that hands out these "mercenary tickets" employs a system where they grade or rate mercenaries who take their "tickets" by means of Employer feedback. "Success/Failure" being the primary means of judging the mission, and lack of "news reporting" on the ticket being another. On the flip side, they also rate "contractors" (those who offer the jobs) based on input from the mercenaries where complaints are involved. In a way, they act as a bonding house because they expect the payments to come to them (so they get their cut of the fees) and they release the payments to the mercenaries.

The thing is - there will be a lot of "random events" not even connected to the "contractor" who is the Arms Dealer. So, how to interlace the "random events" with the planned events, and how to paint the progression such that it becomes a big selling point that this man needs to be stopped - that is the problem.

Creating a bioweapon that can be used against populations, and have a reliable cure comes under the heading of "Amoral" where profits are concerned. Building a high rise knowingly using faulty materials and then arranging the kidnapping of the building inspector's family to insure that he doesn't spill the beans of the issue - might be another aspect. How would this play out? The "Contract" might be to protect the man's family from a "revenge" attack. It would be painted as "The man has gambling debts, and his family, unaware of the danger they are in, are oblivious to the situation. Your job is to arrange an unwilling extraction, keep them safe against organized crime for three days, and then release them. While you are doing this, a second team will be hunting down the original team that was sent out to kidnap and exact pressure against the government official."

Now that seems like a semi-plausible scenario - maybe. But if the player takes the job - the only way he'll find out what is really happening is if he digs in deeper to find out that the government official is really little more than a building inspector, and that the second team is making an effort to either falsify the material evidence, or compromise it so that it doesn't affect the "Amoral" individual's life.

The real problem from my perspective? Is how do I build this UP without being heavy handed?

Case in point? In one campaign, I had an NPC. She was ONLY supposed to be a single scene walk on type of character. Well, the players took to her in a big way. She got involved in a situation that resulted in her hubris being rewarded with a major humiliating slap down, and that slap down resulted in her having a wakeup call about her life, as well as the companions she kept. That she fell in love with one of the player characters is NOT something I'd have thought of had it not been for a reaction roll atop of the humiliation - that and the player's teasing display of chivalry at a time where she didn't deserve it. Long story short, as GM, I set this up to be a long term thread. I thought I was being "Subtle" - and I even made an attempt at "opsec" by not discussing this with my wife in ANY manner. It took less than 4 game sessions for my wife to blurt out at the table "You Idiot - can't you see she's in love with you?"

So, I really need to work on being subtle (Or maybe I was being subtle enough, and my wife was just that good, because the other player was shocked to find out of the situation, and eventually did end up looking at the NPC as wife material after all - despite her history).

Probably what I need are a progression of "non-random" missions where the "villain" either supplies the missions himself, or are supplied by his victims targeting the villain" that basically escalate things in the eyes of the player character.
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