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Article - 'Effective & Realistic Villains' by AzureFenrir

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 12, 2004

Blurb

AzureFenrir writes an article about creating an effective and realistic villain. [WARNING]Best article ever![/WARNING]

Body

Creating an Effective and Realistic Villain


Have you ever seen an RPG game that has no villains or antagonistic forces whatsoever? Me neither. Obviously, without a villain or two, an RPG will end up with no conflict, and an RPG (or almost any game, in that respect) without conflict would not work very well, would it? After all, where would the monster and boss battles come from?

Therefore, we've established that almost all games have a villain or two in some form. Whether the villain is a person, an evil sealed beast, or an invisible force/emotion, the antagonist contributes a lot to the story of any RPG.

Because of villains' importance in a game, designing an important villain is probably just as hard as designing the main character. Some game designers simplify their villains greatly so that they won't have to do that much work planning them. However, this action can really ruin a good RPG, as most villains (the main one, at least) appear multiple times in a game and hold great influence over both the hero and player. A simplistic villain will thus imply a more simplistic game.

To help simplify this design process, I've grouped villain design into "steps," with each step adding more detail to the old (BTW: the same process could be used to design a main character). And remember that my humor is quite below-par, so if you are afraid that you will get bored and fall asleep, you can optionally tie your hair to the ceiling so that when you drop your head, the ceiling will pull on your hair, and the pain will snap you back to your senses.

And remember that I am not responsible for any hair or scalpel damages if you actually try my ridiculously absurd idea (of tying your hair to the ceiling). If the screams resulting from your hair being pulled up causes your neighbors to call the police, I am not responsible for your imprisonment or bail.



The First Step: Creating a Basic Villain

Obviously, your game can't have a realistic villain if it doesn't even have a villain, right? I mean, where would the realism go?

A villain can come in many different forms. They could be an omnipotent force, a sealed beast, a human, or even an emotion that constantly toys with the hero's mind. It's really difficult to add this type of realism to the non-human villains (you can't have an omnipotent force that was constantly abused by its parents or an emotion that was beaten up as a child), so you should have at least one important human villain that you can tag the realism on to.

So, to demonstrate this easy concept, let us start off with our basic human villain:

John Doe is evil.

See? There's nothing to it! Of course, this villain still needs a lot of work before it could be added to a game. Just defining someone as "evil" usually doesn't work very well. You should tell the player WHY this villain was evil, which brings us to:



The Second Step: Villainous Actions and Goals

Now, a villain can't just be evil without a reason. He must have done something (or wanted to do something) that the hero of your game doesn't like and is willing to start a fight over. Now, most games choose extremely large and global events, such as conquering the world or gaining enough power to wipe out humanity, for the villain's goals. Since this is one of the easiest ways to portray "evilness" and make the player sympathize with the hero, let's add one of these to our villain:

John Doe is evil. He wants to conquer the country of Gaia.

Now, this is a bit unrealistic. I mean, many of us are probably power-hungry and will take the world (or any country) if it's offered to us, but most people do not just suddenly decide that they want to be a dictator. We need to enhance this a little bit.

Remember that a villain does not necessarily have to destroy the world or blow up cities for the hero to dislike him (although those are possibilities). Instead, as long as the hero dislikes the villain's actions or goals, it is usable, even if it's to stop all wars or spread joy throughout the land. In fact, giving your villain a more noble belief may actually enhance his realism quite a bit.

But how would you make a noble villainy that the benevolent hero could ever hate? Well, the first rule that you must remember is that the hero is human, and thus have human-like emotional attachments (even if the hero is an elf, he/she should still have some emotional attachments). You can make the noble event conflict with the hero's attachments to bring the villain into direct conflict with the hero:

Eisenguard is the leader of the Koh clan. As the clan leader, he is infused with the Koh philosophy of equality in monetary values. His clan would frequently steal from money-hungry misers and high government officials, sometimes administering swift justice to them, and frequently gave their rice and gold to poor peasants and needy beggars.

One day, Hero's parents, who are both high government officials, decided to raise their armies and attack the Koh clan. For a long time, they a jealous of the Koh clan's power, and wanted to break up their tight alliance. War broke out, and the stronger and better-trained Koh clan defeated Hero's parents. Hero, now a homeless orphan, witnessed the death of his own parents at Eisenguard's sword and a raid on his own home. Terrified, Hero ran from the battlefield, and with no home to shelter him, lived on the streets for years, waiting for his chance at revenge...

I did prematurely enter a later step and added a background history to the villain, but this story still demonstrates this principal well. Most people would agree that Eisenguard is a noble and just man who cares for the poor and punishes the greedy. However, he did kill Hero's family, and even if the act was for self-defense and for a noble purpose, it still instilled hatred into the hero and brought the two into direct conflict with each other. Revenge is definitely a strong emotion to add to your game.

In fact, in the above story, the villain didn't even attack first. He only killed Hero's parents because they attacked first. If anything, the Hero's parents are the evil one, even though Eisenguard is presented as the villain...

Remember that the hero's attachment doesn't have to be his family members. The villain may have stolen the hero's girlfriend out of passion, or he might have broken an item that is precious to the hero. I mean, if the villain stole or destroyed the only momento of your deceased parents, then you will probably seek revenge on them, as well.

So...knowing that, let's "upgrade" our villain to include a more "personal" conflict with the hero:

John Doe is evil. He wants to conquer Gaia and make Reiya, the hero's lover, his queen.

Secondly, remember that the hero has certain experiences that may define his reactions towards certain people. The villain could simply be a long-time rival of the hero, or perhaps even someone that the hero looks up to and wishes to imitate/surpass. This will make the villain very flexible - you can make him as good or as bad as you want. As long as the rivalry is there, the hero will be justified in his opposition:

Googleyeyes is a powerful student of the eye-popping fighting technique. His extruded eyeballs could end any match in a few seconds. The hero is another student of this technique, but his eye-popping techniques are not as good as that of Goggleyeyes. Thus, he swears that he will get stronger and defeat Googleyeyes one day.

In this case, the villain doesn't even need to be so evil that he is almost unrealistic - Goggleyeyes could be the kindest person in the world, and Hero would still have a reason to fight him.

Finally, remember, again, that a hero is human. As a human being that is capable of both judgement and misjudgment, there will be people that he likes, and people that he hates. In addition, the hero can be exposed to many different exterior factors, including religion, philosophy, ethnicity, social beliefs, etc., that can cause him to like or hate certain people.

To demonstrate, let's assume that the hero is a Zankul-Rua arch-sage, a faithful follower of the teachings of the prophet Zankul Auumei, who established a religion based on the heavenly lord Rua and his chosen disciples, the three arch-sages. The villain of this game, Zuukram, is trying to found a new religion, Zenuel Theomism (the names are made up. I apologize if they sound absolutely ridiculous), in the same nation as the hero. Of course, all religious changes can be violent, and both religious leaders found themselves at the center of a religious war. The hero hated the sudden intrusion of this new religion and the violence that ensued, and swore to slay Zuukram to protect his righteous faith and pure followers. This brings the hero into direct conflict with Zuukram, and paves the way to their eventual confrontation...

This story uses religion to build a conflict between the Hero and the villain Zuukram. Zuukram's actions are obviously in no way "despicable," since he was just trying to further the influence of his religion. The war that ensued was the result of hostility from both sides, so both the hero and the villain are equally responsible for the chaos caused by the war. The hero's opposition towards Zuukram is still justified, however, since their religious beliefs are different...

Differing beliefs are very effective in making your game realistic. They portray the villain as a different human being instead of this maligned force that is bent on performing evil acts and hurting the hero. So...remember our villain? Let's add the "belief factor" to it to create a new villain:

John Doe is the game's antagonist. He wants to conquer Gaia to spread Thorism to the predominantly Yataist kingdom. He also wants to make Reiya his queen.

Did you notice that John Doe is no longer "evil," but is now just an "antagonist?" Previously, he just wanted to take over a kingdom for no reason (or probably because of greed), but now he has a purpose to conquer Gaia. Shaking off the "evil" tag and giving your villains an ideal is one of the best ways to make your villains likeable and realistic.



The Third Step: Giving the Villain a Motive (A Reason)

I'm sure that most of you have heard of cliche RPG plots. As you probably know, one of the most cliche plotline in RPG Making is this (or some variation of this):

An evil sorcerer kidnaps the princess and locks her in a tower. He then seals the tower with eight seals and summons a dragon to defend the tower. He then scatters the crystals in eight different dungeons; each guarded by a different boss. Without the princess, the kingdom is in chaos, and a hero rose from the chaos. He traveled the eight dungeons, killed the eight guardians, and collected the crystals. He then slew the dragon, entered the tower, and defeated the sorcerer, thus saving the princess. She falls in love with him, and they live happily ever after.

There are many things wrong with this story, but for the sake of this article, let's examine the villain of the story: The Evil Sorcerer:

The sorcerer is evil. He kidnapped the princess and spread chaos throughout the kingdom.

So...the sorcerer has both a villain (evil sorcerer) and evil actions (kidnapping princess, spreading chaos), so it satisfied both of the above rules. So...why is the sorcerer so unrealistic?

The answer? Well, there are many reasons (including the storywriter's ignorance), but one of these is because he (the sorcerer) does not have a motive. I mean, why would he want to kidnap the princess? Why does he want to cause chaos in the kingdom? Why would he seal the crystals away in convenient places where a determined hero could easily find them with the help of a few obscure folk legends?

Adding a motive answers these questions and makes a villain's actions more realistic. Motives answer that "why" question and shows that the villain is not just "doing" these evil acts without explanation.

So...let's change the sorcerer a bit and add a motive for kidnapping the princess and flaming the kingdom:

The sorcerer kidnapped the princess and spread chaos throughout the kingdom to get revenge. He was once a benevolent sorcerer who worked for the king, but on one day, he screwed up while casting a spell and caused a three-month famine to spread throughout the kingdom. He was severely beaten and imprisoned, and after escaping with the mind force that he conserved throughout the years, he plotted revenge against the king. He kidnapped the princess and spread chaos throughout the kingdom so that, hopefully, the king will get a taste of everything that he has been through...

Now, we've enhanced the sorcerer by adding a motive: revenge. Although it's not really the best or most effective of motives, it still works, and as a result, the sorcerer seems more like a human than some weird evil force incapable of good.

Tech Note: You might have noticed that revenge is a very weak motive for the sorcerer. Many game developers whose villains reach this step of development choose vengeance as the motive to avoid complexity (revenge is actually quite easy to implement - you just have to talk about one event and then forget about it). Although it works, most of the time, you'll find that you get what you put in - revenge is easy to implement, and thus isn't always as effective. To make revenge effective, you need to constantly bring up the subject by using a lot of effective emotional dialogue, which usually requires a lot of extra work.

Remember our old villain from step two? Well, let's look at his attributes again and see how we can use motives to improve his realism:

John Doe is the game's antagonist. He wants to conquer Gaia to spread Thorism to the predominantly Yataist kingdom. He also wants to make Reiya his queen.

Now, John Doe's mission to conquer Gaia has already been supported by his desire to spread his religion throughout the land...hmm, most people would not declare war and take over the world just to spread religion. Most religious prophets and missionaries use peaceful methods, such as demonstrations and speeches, to gather followers. They usually do not have the resources to declare a religious war, and most people think of these people as "madmen with sticks." So, given this information, some players may dismiss these one-sided overzealous villains as just that - villains. So...what motive can we tag on to "spread Thorism" to make it more realistic instead of just the mad schemes of an "evil" zealot with too much free time?

Whenever two religious groups in a bounded area disagree with each other, what do they do? Hmm...how about religious persecution? Maybe the opposing religion, Yataism, is cracking down on Thorist followers. They are probably tearing down Thorist churches, smashing religious icons and statues, and exiling these heretic believers. Let's add some cruel and unusual punishments (with the risk of shattering the bill of rights) like maybe boiling, defenestrating, tongue-charring, and eye-gouging. Maybe the extremely devout followers have their limbs cut off, their eyes gouged, their mouths silenced with magical curses, and their bodies thrown into pigpens? Maybe...

OK, I just went too far with the details. If you did all of that, then the player would probably treat the villain as a hero! So...instead of going that far, let's just add the basic framework to our much nobler villain:

For a long time, the Yataist kingdom of Gaia has oppressed and exiled the opposing Thorists. Thorists were restricted to an infertile landmass called "Hometown," and were forced to do backbreaking slave labor to plant their little seasonal crops. John Doe is a Thorist who saw this situation and decided to help his people escape their poverty. He built a sizable force of Thorists, and decided to take over Gaia to protect his group of religious people. He also wants to make Reiya his queen.

Now...do you see what's wrong with this picture? The villain has just tuned into a hero! It would be hard to justify the hero's quest against such a noble and benevolent enemy, and you might find players drawn away from the hero's plight and into that of the villain. So...let's make this villain easier to implement by giving him a more...antagonistic touch:

For a long time, the Yataist kingdom of Gaia has restricted Thorists to an infertile landmass called "Hometown," and were forced to do back-breaking slave labor to plant their little seasonal crops. John Doe is a Thorist who saw this situation and decided to help his people escape their poverty. He built a sizable force of Thorists, and decided to take over Gaia to protect his group of religious people. His force terrorized Yataist villages and areas, and brutally slaughtered many innocent people. He also wants to make Reiya his queen.

NOW the villain can easily be hated (with a bit of card stacking). The hero can use the villain's terrorist activities as justification for his crusade.

Wait...what about the second part, when he tries to make Reiya his queen? How will we justify this? Well, we could just call it "love" and end the discussion, but we're talking about realism, not Shakespearean idealism. The villain shouldn't just fall in love at first sight and began madly craving someone against his or her will. So...let's add some reasoning to his love for Reiya:

John Doe was once injured while working on his farm. Reiya, a kind white mage, was walking through "Hometown" (a shortcut) when he saw the injured John Doe. She used her white magic to heal him, and he feels grateful. He believed that Reiya is different from other Yataists, and wishes to make her his queen.

So what have we really done? We've made John Doe a determined leader and idealist who wishes to help rescue his own people from virtual slavery and injustice. We've made John Doe a fair and sincere leader who kind-heartedly tried to make Reiya his queen both to repay her kindness and to reward her sense of justice. Compare that with the generic power-hungry womanizing John Doe that we started off with, I would say that we made a lot of progress. John Doe definitely seems more human now, even though he can still a villain because of his violent methods and his direct conflict with the hero's religion and love interest.

But wait...there's more...

*Reader groans, and proceeds to stab the monitor with a dagger*



The Optional Fourth Step: Determining The Crucial Event

I'll see if I can make this section short, so you won't have to suffer though another page of blabbering.

Now, I've previously mentioned that most people won't suddenly decide to take over the world because they feel like it. Obviously, a hero shouldn't just randomly hate a villain unless if something caused him to (burned hometown, slain parents, etc.). That means that a villain shouldn't just suddenly decide to rebel against societal order without a reason, right?

So what about our John Doe? Why would he suffer through years of oppression and suddenly decide to rebel (and so violently)? Well, before we answer that, let's look at the most commonly used thing that would make a villain turn the tables and say "that's it, I'm going for it":

Continuing Philosophy (No Event): The easiest and most frequently used trigger for the villain, this method simply requires the villain to hold his philosophy or grudge for a long time. Eventually, the feeling accumulates to a breaking point, and the villain acts. This method doesn't require any specific event to trigger the villain's villainy, and is the sole reason why this step is "optional".

So, let's examine the "continuing philosophy" of our villain, John Doe. His people have been continually oppressed by the stronger religious group, and are forced to live in poverty. He, too, has lived in this condition for a long time, and one day, he just couldn't bear it anymore. As a result, his violence ensued...that's definitely workable in a storyline. However, we can enhance it by making the villain suffer a personal drama, and while doing so, add more shock to the plot to kill two birds with one stone:

For a long time, the Yataist kingdom of Gaia has restricted Thorists to an infertile landmass called "Hometown," and were forced to do back-breaking slave labor to plant their little seasonal crops. John Doe is a Thorist, and because of his religion, was forced to endure these slave-like conditions. One day, his neighbor and close friend fell ill and asked him to visit. When he arrived, he found her bed-ridden, plagued with malnutrition and disease, and barely able to move. With her dying words, she asked him to take care of her badly malnourished child, and passed away.

John wondered why the king would be cruel enough to let children suffer like this. He hated the Yataist king of Gaia, and cursed the existence of the oppressive Yataists. He walked slowly out of his friend's house and into the nearest Thor shrine. He then kneeled and swore that he would lead the Thorists in a bloody revolution so that this child would never have to suffer again. He became determined to take over Gaia through any means, blood or peace, and terrorized Yataist fields and villages...all in an attempt to keep his tribe safe.

In addition, John Doe was once injured while working on his farm. Reiya, a kind white mage, had been walking through "Hometown" (a shortcut) when he saw the injured John Doe. She had used her white magic to heal him, and he feels grateful for her kindness. He believed that Reiya is different from other Yataists, and wishes to make her his queen once this terrible ordeal was finally over.

Wow, did you notice how heroic the villain has just become now? He could easily become a hero of a game because of his kindness, determination, and good intentions. So...have we made a mistake? Did we make the villain too good to be true? Not really, as you will see...



Making a Good Villain Bad Part 1 - The Card-Stacking Technique

Obviously, we've already made John Doe almost too good to be a villain. I mean, he is trying to save his people from oppression, he takes care of his friend's child, and he is trying to repay Reiya for her kindness. But how will we actually present him as a villain when he has all of these heroic attributes?

Well, let's ponder this question for a while. Hmm......hmmm......Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

*Reader slaps AzureFenrir around a bit with a large trout*

Oh, huh? What? Oh, right, we need to make the good villain evil, right? So...what if we don't tell the player how good the villain is, and only reveal his bad sides? Brilliant, eh?

So, what bad points can we draw from John Doe? Well:


Now, those can tip the favor away from your villain, right? So...let's present the villain's bios as a first-time player (and the hero) may see it:

John Doe is an evil and power-hungry Thorist who, just recently, declared war against the good Yataist king of Gaia. John is a ruthless murderer and has committed countless atrocities against innocent Yataist villages, sometimes burning whole towns to the ground. He has also attempted to kidnap the Hero's girlfriend. Luckily, the hero stopped him in time, but he will definitely not give up trying to seduce her to satisfy his sexual pleasures.

Did the noble villain just become CONSIDERABLY eviler to you? I thought so. Obviously, we are still talking about the same villain, except we are seeing this through the eyes of a fanatic Yataist. Now, the villain has become considerably eviler, and until you reveal the villain's true history later on in the game, the villain will stay a power-hungry womanizing bastard.



Making a Good Villain Bad Part 2 - Exaggerate and Lie to Your Heart's Content

Is there a way that we can make John Doe seem even more evil to the hero...maybe even worse than a power-hungry womanizer? Well, how about adding a few exaggerations that make John Doe seem like both a sadist and a blood-hungry monster?

It may be true that exaggerations are not true, but remember that this is how we "present" the villain, not what the villain actually is. So...imagine that you are a Yataist king who heard that an enemy is trying to overthrow your kingdom. What will you tell your subjects? That the intruder is righteous and should be welcomed, but we should fight him anyway?

Of course not. We will tell every lie and call him every name in the book to raise support for our own cause, right? So, what are some of the "lies" that you might tell your subjects when your opponent is the accepted leader of a different religion? Oh! Oh! What about "heresy"?

Let's see...so your enemy is an evil heretic. What do evil heretics do? Maybe he directly serves Magein (I made these names up), the lord of darkness, and is on his way to corrupt mankind? Perhaps he tortures our innocent Yataists in his private dungeons, and forces them to eat worms while they are bound in a snake pit? Perhaps he sacrifices innocent maidens by stripping their clothes, raping them, and boiling them in a huge pot? Perhaps he also brews wine from the eyes of innocent Yataists and uses their tongues as an ingredient in their hallucinogens?

What about his personal character? Could he be the wolf of darkness that comes down to prey on mankind? Perhaps he drinks blood and eats human flesh? Wouldn't these make your hero hate your villain as if he is the plague itself, and give him the courage to risk his life in order to defeat this psycho?

Of course, we need to use these sparingly so that our villain doesn't become a player ward. So...let's just use a few of these ideas to make sure that the hero hates our villain?

John Doe is an evil and power-hungry Thorist who, just recently, declared war against the good Yataist king of Gaia. John is a ruthless murderer and has committed countless atrocities against innocent Yataist villages, sometimes burning whole towns to the ground. He has also attempted to kidnap the Hero's girlfriend. Luckily, the hero stopped him in time, but he will definitely not give up trying to seduce her to satisfy his sexual pleasures.

He sacrifices beautiful maidens to appease his evil god, Thor (a reincarnation of Maegin), and is believed to have made a deal with Maegin himself, sacrificing his very humanity for enormous power.

Now we have all this, but remember that card stacking and lies can only get you so far. Eventually, the truth about the villain will be revealed to the player (remember that if it's never revealed, it doesn't exist, so our planning would all go to waste). Once this happens, won't the player/hero's grim reality be shattered?

Well, we can't let that happen, so we need a couple more ticks in our sleeves.



Making a Good Villain Bad Part 3 - Silly Hero, Giving Up is for Kids!

I shall make this section VERY short. This method involves a stubborn hero who refuses to believe the truth, even when the player has accepted it. Even though this part mostly modifies the hero's personality, it involves making the villain stay an antagonist, so I'll present it here.

Our Yataist Hero is obviously going to be very stubborn. So...there's no way that he will believe that his very enemy could turn out to be redeemable and right. Even with reality flashing before his very eyes, he denies the truth about John Doe's nobleness. Unwilling to accept that the villain could be so good, he invents his own version of the story, and adds "liar" to his list of John Doe qualities...

And of course, the player is left feeling sympathetic towards the hero's naivete. So...play your cards right, and you could add realism to both your hero and your villain! Two more birds with one stone, not to mention that this paved a new pathway...



Making a Good Villain Bad Part 4 - Fanaticism, or "A good thing that went too far"

So...the game is almost over, the hero may have finally (somewhat) realized that the villain isn't as bad as he seems, and the player already knows the truth about the villain. Knowing all of this, how could the player and hero still fight the villain?

To solve this grave problem, we have to turn to a very dear old rule:

Good intentions does not always merit wise actions.

What are we talking about? It's *drum rolls* Zeal (which the title already gave away). The villain may be noble in his intentions, but obviously, he is human, as well. So...what do humans do? They go too far and make mistakes.

So...our hero (who now has a lot of influence over the kingdom) know realized what John Doe's intentions really are, and hopes to meet him to perhaps compromise and stop the pointless killing. The villain, John Doe, however, will have none of it. In his zealousness and blind prejudice, he does not realize that the hero is actually trying to help him. So...what does he do? He commands his minions to try to stop the hero.

And, of course, Reiya will be there. He can't let Reiya become corrupted under the evil Yataist's rule, right? Righto. Now the hero has to kill John Doe, and the villain dies, the player is sad, and you are happy that you made a good game!

Alternatively, the hero doesn't have to like the villain. Let's see an example of this:

Fanatic is a caring brother and the heir to the throne of Dangos. The king is supposed to be the country's militant leader, and as a part of the ritual to become king, a prince must slay a dragon. Fanatic hesitated when faced with killing the earth dragon, and as a result, the dragon bit his arm off.

He woke up and after wandering for a few days, met an old man who dreamed of a unified world completely devoid of wars. The old man is dying of age, but before he died, he told Fanatic his dream. Hearing this, Fanatic was determined to take over the world and unify it, therefore ending was. Unfortunately, peace comes only after bloodshed, and he violently conquered many nations to realize his dreams...

The villain is definitely realistic (and noble in his intentions), but he is overzealous in realizing his goals. He killed many people, and even when the hero recognizes what the villain aims to do, he still can't forgive the villain. After all, the hero is a pure creature, and for him, peace should be accomplished with little bloodshed (this is, of course, ignoring all of the villain's followers that the hero killed in his random encounters).

Similarly, the hero could still hate John Doe for the millions of Yataists that he killed in his pursuit of a Thorist heaven. Let's not forget that the villain is trying to take his girlfriend! What hero would just sit around and accept that?



Less Noble Villains: The Vengeful and the Insane

A villain doesn't have to be noble in order for him to seem realistic. In fact, realism and effectiveness can be accomplished by simply making the villain human. As we know, humans are sometimes manipulated by their emotions and are very prone to mistakes. Maybe we could use some of these to help us make our bad, but human, villain?

What about this thing called "vengeance?" This is a very easy motive to add to the villain, and can serve as an important realism factor. A villain who destroys a village and chases after a hero for revenge would be much nobler than a villain who...well...just destroys stuff without reason, right? Not to mention that the causes for revenge are NUMEROUS. For example:

Keist is a young man who is filled with hatred. His father, a top officer in the Yoto kingdom, was executed for sedition, and he was left to beg on the streets. A few years have passed, and Keist met a kind magician. He learned powerful magic, and swore to use them to destroy the small kingdom.

He eventually left the magician and scoured the kingdom looking for information about the king's family. The townsfolk told him that the king had died, and Prince Shid (the hero) is now the king. Robbed of his revenge, Keist decided to kill the innocent Shid so that the dead king's spirit could feel the same heartbreak and loss that he had suffered through for years.

Greed for power or wealth can also drive a villain, but they are difficult to support. Your villain will usually end up looking like a generic miser that the player could beat into a pulp and throw into a volcano without any remorse. Perhaps the best way to support something like this is to combine it with hate/ambition and make the villain's greed a "sacred goal." For example:

Goggly is a young man with an ambition. Seven years ago, when he was a poor beggar, he collapsed in front of the King's carriage. One of the king's guards threw him into a field, and when the carriage left, he dimly heard the king say, "useless street scum. He should be happy for even gazing the carriage of royalty!"

"I am not a street scum!" he cried, "Just wait and see, your majesty. I'll prove it to you someday!"

Three years later, a powerful knight entered the jousting arena. He easily defeated the hero (a knight) and the king's greedy generals, and earned himself the position of highest military advisor. Later, the hero overheard the knight mumble, "Just wait and see, your majesty. Three yeas ago, you called me a worthless piece of scum. Soon, I'll take you place and become king!"

Love and insanity can often be used in the same way. They are often combined with fanaticism to make the villain uncontrollable, and justify the hero's quest against the villain. With a well-written background story, the player will eventually realize how realistic your villain is, and the emotional effectiveness of your game can easily zoom up...a lot.



Conclusion: The Article has Ended

Well, that was longer than expected. This 6000+ word article (which is actually too big to fit in the content previewer) ended up taking me 7-12 hours to write...and that is a lot of time.

The tutorial is meant to show you how you can make a generic "evil" villain into a more "human" villain. Instead of having your villain perform evil actions for no reason (or just because he/she is evil/greedy), this tutorial tells you how you can add that ideal, that ambition, to the villain. With this in hand, a villain is no longer just "evil," but now has a reason to be. This also adds realism to your game, and can, in many cases, enhance your game's emotions and tone.

So, if you actually tied your hair to your ceiling to stay awake (and probably fell asleep anyway), now is the time to untie it (or if you've become bald, then just leave those strands of hair for decoration). We're done!



BTW: Microsoft Word determined that the Flesch-Kincaid reading level of this article is 8.3, which means that the article is meant for people with an 8th grade reading level...just in case if you’d like to know.