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61

Build a criminal network as your BBEG I have had success over the years in using the Organized Crime family model (an example is mentioned here) to provide scalable challenges to parties of good, neutral, and evil/chaotic alignments. The emphasis is on rivalry as the tension builder between your PCs and their nemesis. What are the advantages of doing ...


54

I like to pretend to a certain amount of smirking deviousness - I once derailed an "evil campaign" by convincing the GM to put his BBEG in the party as a mole... then convincing the resident assassin to kill him as a warning to his "boss" (he didn't know he had just killed the boss, it was hilarious). Since you're approaching things as a GM, I'll tell you ...


49

In D&D, they can just die and come back In the context of magical fantasy adventure like D&D, it's useful to separate these two questions: "How can I keep this character alive after a direct confrontation?" and "How can I keep this character involved in the story?" A typical D&D campaign's setting has all these things and more:...


44

Don't give them a villain. Give them an antagonist. When we create stories about heroes (such as typical characters in Dungeons & Dragons), we often assume that the story must include some evil character as a source of conflict. But this is not universally true. You don't need to design an enemy NPC who is "more evil" than the PCs; in a game with evil ...


43

That depends on what you mean by villain If you meant the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy - the main Villain of the Campaign), I will start with some frame challenging: You don't. A BBEG that is going to be defeated by level 1 characters is probably underwhelming. That's an animated armor or bugbear level of threat. Anything your players can beat with just their lvl ...


42

Ultimately, the reason your players kill your villains is because they know, deep down, that it's the right thing to do. Now, I don't mean it's the moral thing to do. I mean it's the pragmatic thing to do. The players (if not the characters) have read enough stories and seen enough movies to know that if they have the bad guy in their power and they don't ...


34

You can have a NPC that is the BBEG. There are a number of ways to have the ultimate enemy of your players accompany them at times during their adventures. Multiple interactions is doable The Curse of Strahd adventure opens with guidance about the players interacting with the boss multiple times (p. 10, under "When Strahd Attacks"): Strahd isn’t a ...


31

Give the villain a fake dark secret. If he seems suspicious, the PCs can investigate and discover his "horrible secret" of being addicted to drugs, or be secretly a member of some group that's marginalized in this society, or have a bastard child he doesn't want discovered. The PCs may just have pity on such an upstanding person with an element of weakness, ...


31

D&D 5e monster and villains are rarely, if ever, built like Characters, and this is actually a very good thing for you. That said, you need a starting point. Start with the Archmage from the NPC Section of the DMG It's easiest to work from a point that is close to your objective. The Archmage is a level 18 wizard (CR of 12). This is close to what you ...


31

Although I have not attempted this particular kind of challenge, I have experienced one problem that I see happening here also: you are challenging your players to ignore their ingrained table etiquette. Many players (especially if they play face roles) have had experiences where their character would like to interrupt an important NPC dialogue/monologue, ...


28

This depends mostly on what it is you mean by "DMPC" Properly speaking, any character played by the DM is an NPC, a non-player character. Even major or regularly recurring NPCs like the PC adversaries and their lieutenants. A DMPC is a derogatory (to my ears anyway) term for an NPC that is not only prominent and regularly recurring, but also in whom the ...


27

Evil doesn't necessarily get along with Evil. Your players want to take over the world. Okay. That means that anyone they recruit is going to have to be okay with the idea of the players taking over the world. A lot of evil types out there won't be okay with this. Some of them might wish to destroy the world, some of them might wish to slaughter all ...


26

Firstly, it sounds as though your players are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for you in that they are being very easily manipulated without much effort on your part at all. But let's talk about manipulation. Pa-pa-pa-poker face Manipulation relies on getting people to do something without them knowing exactly why you want them to do it, or even that you ...


25

What you are describing is not a GM PC, it's a normal NPC villain. In the system you're using, building villains using the same character-creation rules as the PCs is also normal. Neither of them makes the villain "your PC". It's hard to tell why you call this villain "my PC", though: If you just wanted to be clever and make them use normal character-...


23

Execution is Key This is a cliche because a lot of stories do it. A lot of stories do it because done well, it can add something to the story. Done poorly, it just becomes silly and makes the players feel like they don't really have any impact on what's going on. So, think carefully about what you intend to use her for before bringing her back. Don't do it ...


23

Don't make it the prominent figure. I don't want to come across as mean, but if your "good guy" existed in any game I was playing, I would immediately be suspicious of him. Every DM has done the bait and switch trope. If you want to make it difficult, make it somebody far less exposed and obvious. And don't make it the politicians aide either. Make the ...


22

Initially expect the group to mitigate his schemes rather than foil them. If they aren't actually preventing the big bad from getting what he wants, then he doesn't have to stop them getting what they want. So they can pull innocent bystanders out of the way of whatever terrible stuff he's up to, or they can be threatened by side-effects or after-effects of ...


21

He does have Wish, but maybe one of the following either has happened or will happen:1. He's cast it once, but now he's unable to ever cast it again. From the spell's description: Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again. 2. The spells fails, anytime he casts it. The GM has great latitude in ruling what ...


19

In addition to the more technical answers, I'd point out that a villain doesn't have to be physically impressive. An enemy can be dangerous without a sword or spell (say, by poisoning a city's water supply). They can be tough to defeat without being physically imposing (say, by hiding in the sewers, protected by clever traps). This is also an opportunity ...


18

Mainly I would say that it's great that you are not trying to force your schemes for the sake of "arcs" you had pre-planned, and that you allow players to figure out things if they can and play the game logically based on what happens. Running situations fairly and letting situations develop logically especially when players cleverly find ways to have ...


17

The game was called Bedlam. I was unable to find the original site but rules are currently available here https://realms.co.uk/bedlam/ Just in case this link is lost to history https://web.archive.org/web/20160806143213/https://realms.co.uk/bedlam/


15

Little Hints Here and There Drop little hints here and there. Make it obvious there is more to their adventures than the guys they kill. Thus, your players get to thinking "there is something behind this as well." The important thing here is that there are little hints here and there. Expose something too big, your players will go Leeroy Jenkins on ...


15

Don't do it. I have been a player in an evil campaign where some of the PCs were directly antagonistic to one another. While some of it was quite fun, the player antagonism was decidedly not. There are a few reasons for this: PCs are not balanced for PVP. A 1v1 fight might be a toss-up, but a party fighting against a single PC-classed enemy will almost ...


15

Each of the villains has their own flavor, and each suits a different style of play. It's worth reading the Play Style chapter of the DMG (page 34) and considering which suits your group, then reading the chapters relevant to the four villains to see which suits your campaign style best. In loose terms, Jarlaxle is intended as a swashbuckling anti-hero with ...


14

The villain is villainous because they do bad stuff™, but the villain is hated for other reasons. The villain does not have to be exceptionally evil/villainous (i.e. does not have to be trying to destroy The Kingdom/The World/The Multiverse), but give the players lots of petty reasons to dislike the villain. Some examples: Let the villain make a habit of ...


14

From a rules' perspective: This is actually standard, especially in D&D 3.5. You might have to give him less wealth, but that's about it. The rule say "a Lvl5 character is an appropriate challenge for a group of Lvl3 PCs", you make a Lvl5 character, and you go for it. You will have to build it differently than a normal PC, though. Take only ...


14

No. Lareth the Beautiful is a 5th level cleric and has no spells or magic items which would allow him to force an alignment change. Even with his 18 Charisma, he can do no more than ask nicely, but voluntarily changing your alignment in AD&D 1st edition is difficult. According to the Players Handbook: While involuntary change of alignment is quite ...


13

Do I make a villian like I make regular D&D characters? You do not, creating monsters is a totally different subset of rules that can be found in the DMG page 273. I've tried digging around in the SRD, and the rules for making monsters aren't there, so you'll really have to buy or borrow the DMG if you want to make monsters from scratch. All your ...


12

Ok. First, a Rakshasa is not a low level encounter for a level 6 party. In fact, the DMG uses this specific example when talking about CR: In addition, some monsters have features that might be difficult or impossible for lower-level characters to overcome. For example, a rakshasa has a challenge rating of 13 and is immune to spells ...


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