Villains! Everybody loves a good villain. Villain comes from the Old French word vilain, which does not mean “a bad guy in a cape lurking in the shadows.” It originally meant, in the twelfth century, a “peasant, farmer, commoner, churl, yokel.” In other words, a villain was just a regular guy who was unfamiliar with the trappings of high society.
Before Old French, villain had roots in the Medieval Latin villanus, meaning “farmhand.” Before that was the Latin villa, meaning “country house, farm.” We have good old William Shakespeare to thank for popularizing this form of phrase (though he himself was inspired by Tudor propaganda at the time so he isn’t solely to blame).
Despite the historical significance of villains, they play an important function in a story: They are the antithesis of our protagonists. In the case of TTRPGS, they are a foil and an ideological opposite to the players themselves. If you know your players and you know what makes them tick, then you probably already have a few notions on how to go about designing a villain capable of getting under their skin. But here are some villainous plots to help germinate ideas on what a villain in your game might be trying to accomplish.
|Take over the world||The villain is a conqueror. They are dissatisfied with the world and they think it would be better served by a proper guiding hand.|
|Abolish free will||The villain wants control! By robbing everyone of their free will, they will have no choice but to serve the villain’s desires.|
|Assimilation||The villain wants unity. By returning everyone to a single entity or force, the pain caused by not being able to understand one another will be removed entirely.|
|Destroy the world||The villain wants total obliteration. Only by hastening the destruction of the world will life have any meaning.|
|Genocide||The villain is an agent of prejudice and corrupted power. The villain believes the ails of their reign or of the world can be placed solely on the shoulders of one particular group or ancestry.|
|Omnicide||The villain seeks the death of all things. All things must die and there are no exceptions. When the last living thing falls, the villain will remain to tidy up and turn all the lights off.|
|Immortality||The villain seeks to remove themselves from the flow of time. With immortality at their heel, death no longer becomes an object of worry or fear.|
|Apotheosis||The villain seeks to become a god. Only by becoming a deity can they attain true power over the mortal world.|
|Servant of Evil||The villain is merely a servant of a higher power. They only hold esteem for the one whose truth they value above all others. Perhaps their master is sealed away and they wish to undo the bindings holding them at bay.|
|Revenge||The villain seeks revenge for a wrong committed against them. Only by creating a reversal of fortune for their target will they finally be satisfied.|
|Money||The villain seeks wealth and material riches. Having a pile of money is not enough when they could just as well hold an entire mountain all to themselves.|
|Utopia||The villain seeks to create a utopia; a perfect place where their rule is law and those who do not abide by the villain’s law will be put to the sword.|
|Dystopia||The villain seeks to create anarchy. The only kind of world that makes sense is one where chaos is king and where the forces of evil are not held back by the forces good and justice.|
|Boredom||The villain seeks entertainment. A life of excellence has caused them to become depressed. They seek challenge and to feel the flames of youth within them once more.|