Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 82: Compelling Villains
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Main Topic

What makes for a compelling villain? Ask that question and you will get a few different answers. One thing that will come up time and again is a level of sympathy. Another is understanding the underlying drive. But there are a few more we will touch. 

  • Break the Rules – Give them an unusual or special power or ability that doesn’t map what is expected. In superhero work, often the first villain or major villain is a dark reflection of the hero, but who are the compelling villains?  Magneto’s mind control using magnetism springs to mind; Oddjob in Goldfinger; Lex Luthor over Bizarro – these do things in a different way than the hero. 
  • Give them (a little) history – You have already made them their own protagonist, with a motivation, but give them enough of a history to hook into player backstories – Did they come from the same town? Have the same teacher? Create a way for the players to sympathize, or at least have their characters pretend to.  
  • Make them Stand Out – Similar to point 1, make them visually remarkable and memorable in their own way.  Sometimes it is about the look and the style, though this could include the potential for being unremarkable.  

Stat Blocks

Zendead- 

Zmaj

The days stretched out long and desolate. The bars of the cell seemed even larger than they had the day before. The growth of beard has long since passed the itching stage. The cell also seemed to be getting smaller all the time. 

How had he ended up here at this point where all things were against him. Family, friends, kingdom all hated him because of what he had done. What was this horrible thing you ask. He had to kill the king and bring about the next age of peace. That peace might come at the point of a sword. The little people had to be used to help end the old kings reign of oppression. The fact that they had no say in the matter was of little consequence. 

The people that started to question needed to be shown that this was the only way. It wasn’t my way or the highway thou. Showing them my vision in a new way would help them to understand their place in the bigger picture I was orchestrating.  Showing them my vision could get a little messy. The number of little people that paid the price was small in comparison, a few hundred so they could see and understand. The potion that was in the water supply was only there to help push people to want to help me. I never wanted to hurt them but the price of freedom must be paid with the blood of the innocent.

Then the one person that was not affected had to show up. My own brother would be my downfall. I understand what I now must do. The seals inside the cell have called the help I needed to escape this prison. It will help to rid me of the flesh that is the prison guard over me. Now to call this name as I spit a mouthful of blood on the floor. 

The form that erupted from the cell was unlike anything the townsfolk had ever seen. Scaled from head to the tip of the tail. Large wings stretched out to catch the wind as the massive legs pushed the great beast into the air. The roar that erupted from the snout was deafening and ground shaking. Then as another bit of grotesque it belched a stream of flame from its mouth as it wheeled around and took to the skies. 

nulloperations – 

The Trade Halls of the Eritaaio

Countless voices speak in myriad dialects, in different tones, in multitudes of somatic gestures. They hail from worlds known along the interstellar roads and worlds kept secret from the galaxy, hushed away in the night. They’re all here for the same thing, the same drive and goal that pushes all of these sentients to learn a common tongue: trade.

 Glass curves overhead, blocking out the burning sky on this barely terraformed rock. The hall is large enough for a small corvette to fly in through its great doors. Harsh, hot, and muggy air flows in from these arched openings, but powerful and loud turbines spin over the sweaty and crowded hall’s merchants offering an annoying but welcome relief. But the smell of the heat still remains, despite the notes of spices, oils, and fragrances for sale; all are cut through by the endless smell of sentient life pushed in cramped quarters.

Here one can find what they need; just show they have the energy credits worth trading. Every good, every service, every product; if it’s sold along the trade lines of the galaxy, it will end up with a stall here, even if the original owner or trade holder doesn’t know about it. Getting lost in this bazaar of the stars takes just a moment to follow the call of the Eritaaio tongue, to listen to the merchant as they beckon to come closer. Taste, touch, test, tease, trade and take. Here one gets what one needs, whether they know they need it or not.

Guard-a-Manger- 

BIOS Update 2ZY-3.4X

It seemed like a simple tweak in the subroutine’s design when you and your team stole the specs from the corp mainframe.  It was just another in the incessant and unending iterative improvements that let them claim and take another piece of the wages everybody earned.  Somehow, it was okay that these brain implants needed constant adjusting – managing to dull your senses and nerve responses probably helped everybody with being hungry and cold so often. 

It wasn’t until a week later you remembered that you still had a copy.  Your implant was glitching, so you thought it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and patch the firmware with this … this … experimental upgrade.  That’s not just a new operating system or a little tweak on the edges – this was a whole new ballgame. What they didn’t tell you was that the world was deeper and richer than you imagined.  You saw what you hadn’t before – the shine in the sky; the twinkle in the eyes of the bodega cat – it all came together.  

It was when you went walking that it came full circle; it was at the corner of June & Hospice when you realized that you were not alone.  In the shadows and cracks of this omnipresent world voice, you saw someone reach out for you. And it wouldn’t have been something you saw, without the 3.4X, reaching for you from the storm drain. 

Lexicon

Logogram  noun logo·​gram | \ ˈlȯ-gə-ˌgram  , ˈlä-\

Definition of logogram

: a letter, symbol, or sign used to represent an entire word

the ampersand and dollar sign are logograms

First Known Use of logogram 1840

Look-up Popularity: Bottom 30% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead- House of X and Powers of X by Hickman is becoming a great consolidating of all the old with a great vision of the direction things are to go in the future of the Marvel mutants. 

nulloperations – Avengers: Endgame – OR- How I watched the MCU toy with villians with each movie (some compelling, some not so much)

Guard-a-Manger- Good Eats! The Return

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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