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seneschal

Villain idea

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This video got me thinking.  Do your heroic player-characters have a persistent arch-nemesis who keeps coming back for more no matter how many how many times he is defeated, imprisoned and/or seemingly killed?  The bad guy doesn't have to be superhuman, just ridiculously determined -- like Wile E. Coyote.  His schemes may vary but his basic motives and methods remain fairly consistent.  So ... what if he isn't immortal after all?  What if he isn't even the same guy each time?

In our example video, Skeletor was manufactured in the tens of thousands, all recognizably him but with subtle and not-so-subtle variations.  Apply this to a flesh and blood character.  Variations in build, skills, intelligence, and personality.  Comic books do this all the time.  Whole squads of people have been the Green Goblin and Hobgoblin.  Dr. Doom has an endless supply of robot doubles (as did Superman at one time).  How many takes on The Joker have we seen since 1940?  What happens if several of them show up to ambush the adventurers at the same time -- without each other's knowledge or cooperation?

What if the insidious Professor Fez, previously an aged British colonial type in the Boris Karloff mold, is suddenly now Latino, or a black guy from Philly?  What if their heated discussion of what to do with the captured PCs is interrupted by a slinky female Fez who insists that she is the genuine article and must be in charge?

Are your heroes prepared to battle an army of duplicates, sorta duplicates, and cosplayers?  Just because a character interpretation is goofy doesn't mean it isn't competent and dangerous.

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20 hours ago, seneschal said:

What if the insidious Professor Fez, previously an aged British colonial type in the Boris Karloff mold, is suddenly now Latino, or a black guy from Philly?  What if their heated discussion of what to do with the captured PCs is interrupted by a slinky female Fez who insists that she is the genuine article and must be in charge?

So, @seneschal, updating early 20th century racist tropes to early 21st century racist and sexist tropes.

I await your typical paean that you are, in fact, complimenting them by recognising that their struggle against adversity has rendered them competent villains worthy of inclusion in your games.  Your dog-whistles are as clear as a bell.

!i!

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I sometimes run an arch-nemesis. It depends on the game/type of campaign, and how the adventures actually play out. Often, a reoccurring villain happens by accident rather than design. Someone gets away or proves to be more successful than I expected them to be and they crop of later on. As for why he isn't the same guy each time? We'll mostly because I think that would suck. 

 

One of the major reasons why people play RPGs is that they can accomplish things and actually make a difference. If the villain keeps coming back, regardless of what the player characters actually do, then they loose some of that sense of making a difference, as Mr. Big Bad is going to come back. It reduces their sense of free will and agency too.

Another reason why I think having the Big Bad always be the same guy is that the game will become somewhat monotonous. Each Major Villain worth their salt has their own modus operandi , personality, code of behavior and so on.  If the Big Bad is always the same, then all the adventures involving him with tend to fall into a pattern.  Series 8 of Doctor Who fell into that trap, with the Master being behind every plot. That's why in fiction arch nemesis either show up infrequency, or sit back as an "end boss" with under bosses who act as the antagonists along the way. A lot of old school anime shows, especially giant robot anime shows followed that pattern, with a Big Bad boss who the heroes personally confront at the end, with several lieutenants who themselves function as short terrn arch villains (until killed, demoted, or switch sides).

 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
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8 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

So, @seneschal, updating early 20th century racist tropes to early 21st century racist and sexist tropes.

What's wrong with that?

Part of the point of villains is that they are bad and or evil people who do bad and/or evil things. If the Major Villain and their minions are all enlightened fair people, then how are they villains? Pretty much every story would have gone very differently if the bad guys weren't actually bad, but fair and could be reasoned with. 

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35 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

What's wrong with that?

Part of the point of villains is that they are bad and or evil people who do bad and/or evil things. 

What's wrong is that being Latinx or black or a feminist is not bad or evil, but @seneschal has pointedly included them in an otherwise reasonable post on gaming as dog-whistles.  You know that he's "winning" every time we have to call this out, right?

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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Skeletor is racist and misogynistic?  I dunno. He seems to hate everyone equally, except he hates He-Man more, and his posse is a pretty diverse lot.  He even has a more-competent woman, Evil-Lyn, as his second-in-command.  I've often wondered why she didn't just keep this week's Artifact of Power and set up shop on her own account.
 

Professor Fez, introduced as an example villain In "Astounding Adventures," looks an awful lot like Karloff's portrayal of Ardeth Bey in "The Mummy."  But if you prefer Sydney Greenstreet from "Casablanca," fine.  He wore a fez, too.

Or was it my joke about race- or gender-swapping the villain that offended you?  If so, what right do you have to be offended?  Marvel Comics gave us a female Doctor Octopus while Otto Octavius was down for the count.  The CW gave us a black Iris and Wally West and a black Jimmy Olsen just for the heck of it.  Hollywood gave us Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (sure, he's a badass, but Bruce Campbell wasn't available?), Will Smith as James West (Smith should stick to fighting aliens and vampires), and Michael Clarke Duncan as The Kingpin (he was intimidating but not Wilson Fisk).  If they can get away with it, why can't you or I in our role-playing games?  At least you don't still have to pay Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner when your campaign bombs (shudder, Daredevil 2003).

Edited by seneschal

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Witness the deflection.  Invoke Skeletor, which was never part of the objection.  And white people wear fezzes too!  Never mind that the characters, portrayed by white actors, are dated stereotypes of indefinite impressions of late-colonial Arabs (or Persians or Indians, as depicted elsewhere in other garb).  But definitely don't look back on the needlessly specific depiction of Latinos, blacks and feminists as criminals that was clearly supposed to fly under the radar while still registering with the reader.

I take no great joy in hounding you -- I actually appreciate some of your posts about gaming -- but you consistently employ a well-known playbook with a coded message that goes beyond being merely politically conservative.  And it's not okay.

!i!

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3 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

What's wrong is that being Latinx or black or a feminist is not bad or evil, but @seneschal has pointedly included them in an otherwise reasonable post on gaming as dog-whistles. 

The whole point of his example was that the villain comes back somehow in another body. So any sort of change from the villains previous body is going to bring out charges of his being racist, and/or sexists for making  the new villain a member of whatever "group" he picks, and the same claims, plus those of not being inclusive if the villain's new body were the same race and gender as the first. He can't win no matter what he does.

3 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

You know that he's "winning" every time we have to call this out, right?

No, I don't know that.

29 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Witness the deflection. 

It's not deflection, it was the first example posted. You're the one who tried to change the topic in his post from "what if the main villain was the same guy". I'm surprised you didn't call him sexist for using "same guy".

32 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

 And white people wear fezzes too!  Never mind that the characters, portrayed by white actors, are dated stereotypes of indefinite impressions of late-colonial Arabs (or Persians or Indians, as depicted elsewhere in other garb). 

Yes, and Karloff wore a Fez in several of his roles. You overlook that many of those old films also happened to be classics. Karloff was an actor noted for playing villains. He got his roles and recognition thru merit, not through his ethnicity. But we're not allowed to run any game in the 20s or 30s because they were racist times. Or any time before that. Or after that. Claims can be made for any movie being insensitive to one particular group of people or another. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

I take no great joy in hounding you 

YOu appear to. And yes, "hounding him" is about right. 

1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

 consistently employ a well-known playbook with a coded message that goes beyond being merely politically conservative.  And it's not okay.

Yes you do. With such terms as "dog-whistle", "racist trope" and "Sexist trope".  

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MODERATOR HAT ON:

If you find other posters are consistently annoying to you, please use the "ignore user" feature. Click on their profile and select it and you will no longer see their posts.

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Edited by MOB
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