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Article - 'Cruel Intentions VI' by Xanqui

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jan 18, 2004

Blurb

The Techniques of the Villain - Xanqui's sixth article in the series!

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Holy crap! This is the fifth article in the Cruel Intentions series, which started almost an entire year ago! While the previous Cruel Intentions article wasn’t so much about characterization, I’ve decided to bring back the old formula, which seems to work. Now that GW5 is up and running, the new layout allows you to easily find the articles series, such as this one. If you look at the top of this page, in the blue box, it says in it “Series”, and provides links to the other Cruel Intentions articles.

I know I said that this series would end, but there’s so much to talk about regarding the villains! The first article went into the personality, the second went into motivation, the third into non-physical villains, the fourth into how to create an introduction for your villain, and the fifth showed the steps towards villainy. But I’ve never really focused on the techniques of the villains.

There are some common cliches in storylines regarding villains. These cliches, however, are not the cliches that you are thinking of. These are cliches are common like a handshake between two buddies, or saying “yo” upon meeting for the nth time. Some of these are good, but some are bad. I’ll be sure to point these out.

But before I get into that, I would like to go into a little detail regarding originality. Let’s face it, your villain isn’t original (or cool for that matter) if he’s just trying to destroy the world. The Austin Powers series should have given everyone the realization that destroying the entire world was stupid, and is a pathetic method of being “evil”.

Evil people tend to want things. When they realize that getting these things can only be done through evil methods, they do it. If this means destroying something, or killing millions of people, then it’s understandable. But the last thing an evil person should ever do is kill himself in the process. That’s where Dr. Evil’s mistake lie. He wanted one hundred billion dollars, and if he didn’t get it, he was going to destroy the world. What would that accomplish?

So here are some methods of getting what you want, without the risk of killing yourself in the process:

Hostages


Hostages are a popular way of getting what you want. But in order to get a hostage, you must perform another evil action. Usually this involves killing a few people, raiding a mansion of some sort, or grabbing the hostage off the street and tying him/her up. But these require intense planning. So the real question is: how do you take the hostage?

The Raid is a common method. This involves the villain forming a small army, armed with weapons, and sending them into the place in which the potential hostage resides. They usually end up killing a few people, but make sure not to harm the hostage. The villain, during this time, is probably waiting in his secret lair. The army, consisting of me wearing all black, and black masks, tie up the hostage and throw her into either a van or a limousine. They then drive the hostage back to the base, where the hostage is kept protected in a small, cramped room.

Picking Off the Street is a cool way to do it, but isn’t as common as the other methods. The unsuspecting potential hostage is casually walking down the street, when suddenly, a van with a sliding door opens up, and several men dressed in black clothes throw a bag over the hostage, pull the hostage back into the van, and quickly speed away. The hostage is then injected with sleeping stuff, or is knocked unconscious.

The Unsuspecting Villain is generally used in comedies, such as the movie The Chase. While the villain is casually minding his own business, something happens that startles him, and he quickly reaches for his gun and sticks it into the back of the nearest potential hostage. Panicked, the villain takes the hostage to his car, or someone else’s, and drives away as fast as possible, not quite sure where he should go.

Bank Robberies can be found in great movies such as Point Break. Villains who are probably inexperienced, and quite frightened, dress in whatever they can find to hide their identity, and rush into a bank, armed with guns. Here, they do one of two things:
A. Ask for the key to the vault.
B. Have the cashiers fill some bags with as much money as possible.
There is a vital mistake in the first and second option. If they ask for the key to the vault, the cashier usually plays dumb and says that the key is in another building, and cannot be reached. At this point, the robbers become confused and scared, and either end up killing a hostage, or do nothing until the police show up.
Choice B is even worse. The cashiers aren’t stupid, and know how to deal with this. They fill bags that are marked, or have a contraption inside of them that cause a type of paint that can’t be washed off for a week to spray in the robbers’ faces.
Xanqui’s Advice to Bank Robbers: Demand everyone’s wallet or purse, especially those who are leaving the bank. It won’t get you as much as the vault, but at least you can leave quickly with some cash.

Pretending to be a Friend is in most movies that start out as love stories, but lead to murder mysteries, such as The Watcher. The villain will meet a girl somewhere, and the two will get to know each other. They may fall in love, or it could be a one-time meeting. The villain gathers up as much information as possible about the girl, who is the daughter of some rich or powerful guy, and when the villain knows exactly where the girl will be every day, he makes his move. He can then use any of the previous methods (except Bank Robbery) to do the actual kidnapping. Or he could kill her on the spot. It’s up to you.

Hostages have been a tool for villains for years. They’re an effective way to force someone to give you whatever you need. According to storylines, if a father loves his daughter, he’ll do anything to get her back alive. But keep in mind that it includes sending an army of his own to save her… So that brings you to the following options:

Cut Off the Hostage’s Ear or another part of his or her body. You then mail it to the father. This will make him realize that if he doesn’t get the cash to you soon, then another part of the body is coming off next…

Provide a Time Limit such as 24 hours or 72 hours, depending on the distance between you and the father. Keep in mind, you want something he has, so you’d rather have it than kill his daughter. Be sure to provide at least enough time for him to get you what you want, but only enough time to get it. A week is too long, as it would give them plenty of time to form an army. Oh, and it sounds cooler if you give them the time limit in hours.

The Phone Call is a good way to prove that you not only have the daughter, but she is safe as well. Let her say one or two words like “Daddy save me!”, then immediately take the phone away from her. Or, if your story is in the future, send a video over the Internet or something.

But in the end, the hero usually ends up winning, except for in the movie Suicide Kings. I won’t reveal the end for any of you, but if you’re interested in the hostage stuff, SEE THAT MOVIE! It has Christopher Walken in it, as well as Dennis Leary. Of all the hostage movies that I would recommend, that one is by far the best.

Anyway, here are some ways the hero will probably end up ruining your plans:

You Revealed the Location. Boy, that was stupid. Always, ALWAYS make a place where the father can drop the “package” off and his daughter can be returned to him at the same time. Make this place several miles away from your secret lair, such as at a subway station at midnight, or in an alleyway that is too dark for them to see.

You Changes the Plans. This is probably the leading mistake villains make. They get greedy, then end up wanting more after they get what they want. This usually causes the hero to get super pissed off and either go in himself and save the hostage, or forms a team to go in and save the hostage. One way or another, since you’re the villain, you’re going to lose.

Your Demands Were Too High. Let’s face it, if the guy isn’t rich enough to ensure his daughter’s safety, he’s probably not rich enough to afford an escape submarine, a jet, and passports to France. If you leave the hero with demands so high that he has no choice but to attack, he’s going to win, since he’s the good guy. Really, it’s not fair that heroes win with only minimal expenses while you spend billions of dollars to build the secret lair and the army you use to fight.

That about wraps it up for hostages, but don’t go yet! This article isn’t over! Hostages are only ONE of the ways a villain can attempt to achieve his or her goals.


Destruction


Destruction or threat of destruction is a great way to be a villain. It could be blowing up some important building or perhaps even the world! But the true goal of a villain in either case is a bit different. I’ll describe the examples in detail.

Some Important Building, while it sounds good, may not be the best way for a villain to cause destruction, and may not be a good idea for you as a story writer. When a villain blows up a building, he’s doing it not to kill people, but to show his power, and that he’s capable of causing even more damage. The problem with this is: this is known as terrorism. We have seen this in real life, and it’s disturbing to see it portrayed in a story for some people. Your best bet here is to have the hero catch the villain just before he has a chance to blow the building up. Or, if you like taking risks, BLOW IT UP!

Nukular Bombs, also known by their correct term, nuclear bombs, are exactly what a villain would want his hands on to get what he wants. Of course, you could make it some other type of bomb, like something futuristic. Either way, the bomb is capable of a massive explosion, which will kill thousands, millions, billions, etc. Villains use these because they’re evil. If it’s a fantasy story, the villain isn’t going to detonate a massive explosion because they want to, they’re going to do it just for the hell of it. In other cases, however, such as movies about terrorists, they do use nuclear bombs to scare people, and to get money. For example: Austin Powers.

Total Destruction is generally used simply for evil. It’s not about money, it’s not about objects, it’s about evil. This is something that I want to get across to you. No person in the right mind is going to threaten the world or the universe with total destruction. They won’t get what they want, because the good guys are going to send in the biggest army ever, because they have nothing to lose! And if you have a villain who can take on the biggest army of whatever with only himself and his stupid henchmen, you’re sadly mistaken. Villains aren’t about being invincible, they’re about power. And unless the villain is a total moron, he’s not going to threaten the universe with total destruction.

Now, I’ve seen cases where the villain wants to destroy the universe simply for his hatred of everyone. At least he has motivation there. Or maybe he really is pure evil, and was born to end everything. That’s fine too. But at least make sure you make it clear.

I’m not going to bother with the details of the many ways you can destroy the planet or the universe. If you’re really interested in learning some ways, check out VillainSupply

Oh right, and a villain will only use a mass-destruction thing as a last resort, generally.


War


You rarely see a war in a game that is started or caused directly by the main villain. It’s usually an organization that goes against society or freedom or whatever. But as I stated in Cruel Intentions III: Forces of Evil, as the name implies, there can be evil forces as well. Since there are countless reasons for a war, I’ll just give a little bit of details as to how the villain may go about handling the war. The villain, in this case, being the opposing army.

Wars in video games are very badly portrayed. They usually show a few shots fired, then focus on the lead heroes, who fight in an area nowhere near the actual war. They find some sort of secret route to fight the villain who may be leading the war. You don’t see the suffering, the killing, and the thousands of bodies lying on the fields. You see three or four characters trying to kill the villain.

This is probably due to the thought that the heroes are all anyone cares about. But sometimes we want to see what the villain created, such as his secret weapons, or his amazing strategies. We never get to see the lead villain as the LEADER! He is always alone in the final battle, and you rarely see him giving speeches to his army.

Perhaps this villain is leading zombies, who just fight for him, with no actual reason. Or maybe they were raised to be evil. Sure, we’ll see the leaders allied to the hero in action, but how often do we get to see the villain?

So what do I have to say about wars started by villains? They SUCK! We only ever get just a mere glimpse of action from the villain. This would be a great opportunity for you to make a change to that.


Miscellaneous


This topic will go into the little things that you’d see often. Since these things are little, they don’t require big letters, except for the big “miscellaneous” word.

Henchmen are a common tool for villains. These are like the lead villain, but not quite as strong. They are often portrayed in groups of three: one smart, short one, a big fat dumb one, and the leader who gets pissed off all the time. This, my friends, is what I would call a BAD cliché. They rarely ever have background, and we have no idea how these idiots ended up working together, especially under an ambitious villain. They often end up joining the hero’s side towards the end, too. These are villains that we see and fight all the time, but for some reason, they never die, even though you beat the lead villain once, and the game is over.

Secret Lairs are where the villains reside. These can be mansions, space stations, caves, or really tall noticeable buildings. While they look innocent enough from the outside, every nook and cranny visible by cameras, and there are hundreds of men armed to the teeth guarding it. So it only makes sense why the heroes would make it through to find the villain. They usually find some unguarded area in which they can sneak in. Since the guards are dumber than rocks, they’ll think that a twig that lands in front of them isn't just a distraction, but some sort of sign saying “hey, let’s go elsewhere!”

Revealing the Plans is a pretty bad mistake on a story writer’s part as well. Do you people not realize that your audience is LAUGHING at the stupidity of this? The villain will get the hero in a position in which it is “impossible” to escape, and at that point, reveals all of the plans. The hero then escapes, exploits the information the villain just told him, and wins the day yet again.

Pointing Out the Mistakes of the hero, or some other character, is a common thing for villains to do. They’ll start it out with “you should have been more careful,” or “you shouldn’t have trusted-“. That’s pretty dumb, considering you’re giving your enemy advice in case there’s another chance.

Self-Destruct Buttons seem to be everywhere these days. In space ships, moon bases, and even the villain’s secret lair. And if there isn’t a simple button to press, the heroes usually have a hacker on their side to easily access the database and blow up the nuclear core. Rather than ending the story with a cool fight scene, or battle against the foes, the hero decides to be lazy and just blow everything up. Tip to villains: Make your base not explody.

Well, that’s about it. I could probably find more to write about, but that’s for Cruel Intentions VII. This is the longest yet, and possibly the best? Well, since Bart removed the yes/no rating system, we’ll never know!

I hope you found this article useful. I put a lot of time into it, and this is actually the first hint of something coming soon to GW, which I call: Evil Idol.