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Article - 'Cruel Intentions 2: Reasons for villainy' by Xanqui

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 9, 2003


Another article in the cruel intentions series. This one concerns itself with the reasons behind villainy rather than the practice itself.


The first article was about how to make your villain evil, but here's the next step: giving them reasons.

First, let's take a look at what evil is. You may think it's about killing and hurting, unless you think about both sides. All right, take the wars against Iraq for example. Americans think Iraq is evil, but Iraq thinks America is evil. Now, do we know who truly is right? Well, as an American, we assume, because of what we've been taught, that we're the good guys. Iraq, however, is full of people who were taught that Americans were the bad guys.

In other words, your villain isn't necessarily evil. To him, her, or it, they are perfectly good, that is, if your villain is realistic. No villain thinks that he or she is doing the wrong thing. It thinks that what it's doing is right and must be done. Ways to do this are: making them sadistic (taking sexual pleasure from causing the pain of others), making them hate the world for whatever reason, or make them try to save something else at the cost of the a large population or something. However, to the protagonist, this villain is pure evil. The protagonist looks at this villain and finds what the antagonist is doing is wrong.

So, is there a difference between good and evil? If you think of creating as good, and destruction as evil, then yes. But again, you're the creator in that case. You were raised to think that creating is good, and destroying is evil. In that case, there is no difference between good and evil. Forget heaven and hell for once and try to put yourself into the antagonist's shoes. They should have at least reason enough to themselves that what they are doing is for the good of themselves or the universe.

Here's one of the worst lines you can possibly use, from the movie Power Rangers "I oppose all that is good and decent." ...Right. Why? Why do you oppose all that is good and decent? Did it do something to you? I really doubt that... I swear, if I ever see that line in a serious game, I'm never writing another article.

But back to the article.

You want to express these reasons for being "evil", right? Of course you do. One of my personal favorite reasons for being evil is vengeance. Sephiroth in FF7 was a somewhat decent man, until he discovered that he was created, and vowed to kill the world because of it. He also lost his sanity and became a bit sadistic at one point or another, but the main reason he wanted the world gone was because he was pissed off. Kuja was very similar, as he tried to destroy the world because he was betrayed (I won't reveal this for you) by [people]. If the antagonist was created for the sole reason to destroy, make him or her pissed off that that's why they were born, which will give them even more reason to kill everyone.

Another way is to cause the villain to lose his or her's sanity. This could be by some failed science experiment (Spiderman's Green Goblin), or the extreme amount of stress put on them until they reach the point of insanity (not sure what that's from...). After they lose sanity, they have to lose control of themselves. To add a little drama at the end, make their sanity return, and have them beg for forgiveness...or something like that.

Finally, one of the most boringest kinds is to make them begin as an evil person. This could be: summoned from hell, dropped off by an evil alien race, sent forward in time from a period of mass destruction, etc. These always suck. There is really no motivation for killing. It ruins the plot, unless you want to go a little deep into it. Here's how you can make this actually cool:

Remember in the beginning of this article when I said: "You were raised to think that creating is good, and destroying is evil."? Well, here's how to use that in the case that they were born evil. The race in which this villain comes from raised this being to become evil to the protagonist. However, there needs to be motivation for the race to be evil. Remember that: Motivation. I'm sick of seeing games where there's just an evil guy from wherever who likes to kill stuff. It's incredibly dull and boring.

Well, this isn't the last of my Cruel Intentions tutorials. The next one will be about evil forces. I hope this helps you because I spent a lot of time (about 45 minutes) working on it, and I don't like when my time is wasted...