Hmmm... Ultimate Evil???


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Ok, I'm pretty sure that a lot of DMs have trouble making a good villain, because theirs come out as cliched, too "saturday-morning-cartoon", too underdevelopped and finally too obscure, like it often feels like a one-shot boss.

Wizards of the Coast released a few books that dealt with rather evil ideas, such the Book of Vile Darkness, Exemplar or Evils and Elder Evils. I'd like to know Paizo could make such a book. It could get the following features:

- How to make a villain out of each class
How do you make a villain out of a bard, a cavalier or even a paladin? The paladin could be interesting to read, since most of the time, people will just make an anti-paladin or blackguard instead.

- How to make a villain out of each race
How do you make a villain with a gnome, a halfling, or an aasimar? Some races just don't scream villainy as much as goblins, orcs and kobolds.

- How to make a villainous organization
How do you determine their goals, their connections and their hierarchy?

- How to make an evil act believable
How do you make a siege, a murder, torture, extorsion, fiendish summoning and such acts concerning for the players?

- How to make a villain big
How do you make a [mythical] monster out of a villain? (Similar to Elder Evils)

- How to make a villain believable
How do you roleplay a villain? Even better, how you do PLAY as a villain if your PC is evil?

I think this subject could be interesting to elaborate, don't you think?


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I'd love to see a product like this. I'd just add one or two other features like

- How to make a villain complex
How do you create a villain that is sufficiently villainous, antagonistic and fun to oppose while not resorting to cliches or cookie-cutter bad guys?

- How to handle the interaction between players and a (recurring) villain
One of the biggest problems I've had in GMing was how to handle the villain-player interaction. The PCs have a tendency to kill anything they come across and it's quite difficult to make a villain recur without resorting to deus ex machina. If the villain escapes (that's a big if, with all the PC options), that will just frustrate the players. If the villain resurrects, the PCs will just make sure he can't next time. If... etc... The problem is that you often either have to take away some of the freedoms of your players or you have to accept that the villain you spent 4 hours creating was killed in 15 minutes of combat.
In addition, how do you foster a nice little antagonism between the PCs and the villain? Even in roleplay-heavy parties it can be difficult to get the PCs sufficiently invested in a villain (without hurting their characters in a mechanical way).


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They've already got "Ultimate Evil" in the pipeline. But it's actually called "Lawyers of Golarion."


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Why Evil?????

Villains don't necessarily need to be part of some "evil" plot. Villains simply need to be working at cross purposes to the party. You could have a LG Paladin working hard to force all to follow his god primarily. Or an NG ruler whose clamping down on killing critters and taking their gold.

If you make your party complex, then coming up with opposition to them will be complex.


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Ahlmzhad wrote:

Why Evil?????

Villains don't necessarily need to be part of some "evil" plot. Villains simply need to be working at cross purposes to the party. You could have a LG Paladin working hard to force all to follow his god primarily. Or an NG ruler whose clamping down on killing critters and taking their gold.

I was talking about evil characters, not evil plots.

Your paladin example could be considered "evil" by some even with a LG alignment... although, it's more of a "Lawful Stupid" alignment.

Villains are usually associated with evil, hence the name "Ultimate Evil". "Evil" regroups heinous acts and villainy, regardless of their morality. A group of pragmatic angels will be considered "evil" if they decide to go on a crusade to punish sinners, be major ones or minor ones, just like an anti-urban Neutral druid grove that sends stampeding animals in settlements will be considered "evil".

If your party defends a tiefling who tries to renounce his fiendish heritage from an angel who wishes to kill him for being the child on a fiend, your party is going to end up with a villain with the angel. The angel is "evil" because of his narrowed ideals.

In short, I'd like to get a book about how to build good villains, regardless of their alignments.


This reminds me of Exemplars of Evil from 3.5.


It would be useful, but perhaps an easier fit into the campaign setting line.


Axial wrote:
This reminds me of Exemplars of Evil from 3.5.

Well, not gonna lie, that's kinda the general idea, except that instead of going for 3 books, they should go with a single huge book (Seriously, it seems like Paizo is often goes with 300+ pages books, that's huge IMO). Also, examplars of evil had a few examples about good-aligned characters actings as "evil" ones, which were adequate for both goo-aligned parties or evil-aligned parties.

ONE MORE THING!

- How to make an evil PC
Ok, I think I have lost count on how many times DMs have banned evil-aligned characters. You know what? Who can blame them? Evil alignments lead to a truckload of problems within a non-evil-aligned party. Your paladin might be trouble; your party might have issues with NPCs; your evil character might BACKSTAB everyone when they least expect it. No kidding, I've heard a similar story about an evil rogue who carefully waited for the right time to kill the party in one fell swoop. IIRC, he sneaked and killed a PC that was carrying a heavy treasure chest with another PC with 2 other PCs following in a narrow stairway, which made the chest fall, slide and crush the 3 remaining PCs, killing them as they fell down the stairs. Apparently, the players applauded the evil rogue player for his actions as it was "great roleplay"... when I'm pretty sure that they all beat them up in real life for ruining their game.


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I think it should be called Ultimate Villain

It could contain several pre-written villain NPCs with several pages of unique backstory each, intended to serve as long-term campaign enemies.


JiCi wrote:


Your paladin example could be considered "evil" by some even with a LG alignment... although, it's more of a "Lawful Stupid" alignment.

LG can be pretty intolerant. The Faiths and Philosophies player companion book has a bit in the middle called "Wrongful Beliefs" which is written from the point of view of a Priest of Iomedae and there is a real "Burn the Heretic" Vibe there for what is a LG Faith.

The Paladin is there to achieve the greater good for society. If the players are in the way, they might not be evil but they are endangering the Greater Good.

for example: Lets say our Players are going around collecting some big ancient artifact fragments (ALA: Shattered Star). The Paladin villain and his faith believe that the artifact is better safely locked up in the vaults of their faith. They will reason with the PCs, try to convince them that they should hand it over without a fuss, but if the PCs won't listen to reason they will do what they must, for the greater good.

They won't kill the PCs, but they will give them a righteous beat down, apologize and take the Artifact back to their church where it can be properly protected. They might even leave a healer or two behind to help the PCs recover after the battle.


Check out Order of the Stick for a brilliant example of a misguided paladin villain. You just have to go on a bit of an archive binge (mildd understatement)


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Iomedae does NOT support the Burner mobs, Greylurker.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think this is a brilliant idea and I would absolutely buy it! I actually prefer Ultimate Villain, too, since not all villains and antagonists are evil. But whatever you call it, I would love a primer on writing better villains and antagonist organizations.

I would add:

-How to set up and carry out villainous plots
What is the baddie trying to accomplish? How could he/she go about accomplishing it? How might he/she react to PC interference? How would the plots and methods of differently aligned villains differ?

Paizo devs, are you reading this? Official request here. :-)


JiCi wrote:
Axial wrote:
This reminds me of Exemplars of Evil from 3.5.

Well, not gonna lie, that's kinda the general idea, except that instead of going for 3 books, they should go with a single huge book (Seriously, it seems like Paizo is often goes with 300+ pages books, that's huge IMO). Also, examplars of evil had a few examples about good-aligned characters actings as "evil" ones, which were adequate for both goo-aligned parties or evil-aligned parties.

ONE MORE THING!

- How to make an evil PC
Ok, I think I have lost count on how many times DMs have banned evil-aligned characters. You know what? Who can blame them? Evil alignments lead to a truckload of problems within a non-evil-aligned party. Your paladin might be trouble; your party might have issues with NPCs; your evil character might BACKSTAB everyone when they least expect it. No kidding, I've heard a similar story about an evil rogue who carefully waited for the right time to kill the party in one fell swoop. IIRC, he sneaked and killed a PC that was carrying a heavy treasure chest with another PC with 2 other PCs following in a narrow stairway, which made the chest fall, slide and crush the 3 remaining PCs, killing them as they fell down the stairs. Apparently, the players applauded the evil rogue player for his actions as it was "great roleplay"... when I'm pretty sure that they all beat them up in real life for ruining their game.

It's not how to make one it's how to play one. All those things you list are bad play, and have nothing to do with alignment. An Assassin that kills PC's because "he's evil" is no better than a Paladin who dominates and demands his beliefs dominate because he's "Lavful Good" both show a player unable to come to the table and be someone you want to game with.

I guess I don't see the need for a book to tell people that if you want to be part of a gaming group, then play nice with the other players and their characters. That problem isn't with alignment, that problem is with the players.


Icyshadow wrote:
Iomedae does NOT support the Burner mobs, Greylurker.

on Atheists

"This self-worship is a grievous sin and should be DRIVEN from the impressionable with logic and sticks!"

so no fire just beat them with sticks while explaining how wrong they are

even the general text at the top of the section calls on Crusaders to draw their swords against "False Prophets" Which apparently includes anyone able to do healing magic without calling on the Divine

Lawful Good
If you won't listen to reason I will beat you down until you realize it's for your own good.
It can make for just as effective a villain as Chaotic Evil


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Axial wrote:

I think it should be called Ultimate Villain

It could contain several pre-written villain NPCs with several pages of unique backstory each, intended to serve as long-term campaign enemies.

Ultimate Villainy.

I fully support this book, as I am always a fan of GM-support books.

I think, if there's going to be any player value in it, it may have to contain a section on "The Evil Campaign."


I think it seems more of a chapter or two of out an Advanced Game Mastering book than a book in and of itself, but either as a stand-alone or as part of something bigger, I would find it interesting.

I definately think a lot of GMs could do with some practical advise on non-standard games, especially for alternate conflict types (like the above-mentioned paladin as an antagonist). Likewise, many also seem like they could use a good way to gauge player interest and campaign type compatability when it comes to PCs playing black hats or even just campaigns or characters that show a very different viewpoints on common tropes and storylines.

-TimD


So you'd have a Chapter on DM advice for making and Running villains
A chapter for running a campaign where the PCs are Villains
A Chapter for Villainous tools like Evil Organizations, Minion Management, Evil Feats, Magic items and Spells, etc...
Last chapter could be dedicated to stated out Villains similar to the NPC Codex. Sample Villains of every class and alignment

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I love this idea. A great choice for a support book.


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TimD wrote:
I think it seems more of a chapter or two of out an Advanced Game Mastering book than a book in and of itself, but either as a stand-alone or as part of something bigger, I would find it interesting.

You're right, of course, but I think it should be its own book anyway. I have two compelling reasons:

A) I think a book of villainy is a stronger concept, and would probably sell better than a more "survey course" GMG2.

B) A big part of my Paizo investment is due to their art assets. Ultimate Villainy would probably have a ton of amazing, useful art for GMs. Most books are slightly player-character-skewed with the art.

Anyway, I think we are getting to the point where these kinds of special-topic books are cool.


That would be correct ^_^


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
TimD wrote:
I think it seems more of a chapter or two of out an Advanced Game Mastering book than a book in and of itself, but either as a stand-alone or as part of something bigger, I would find it interesting.

You're right, of course, but I think it should be its own book anyway. I have two compelling reasons:

A) I think a book of villainy is a stronger concept, and would probably sell better than a more "survey course" GMG2.

B) A big part of my Paizo investment is due to their art assets. Ultimate Villainy would probably have a ton of amazing, useful art for GMs. Most books are slightly player-character-skewed with the art.

Anyway, I think we are getting to the point where these kinds of special-topic books are cool.

YESSSS!!!!


Thought I replied again to this yesterday, but guess it was eaten by the interwebz.

Upon additional reflection, I concur that an "Advanced Campaigns" or similar would probably be a better book - one that has both GM advise and player advise in it for running & playing in non-standard campaigns as well as adapting AP's and modules for black hat PCs.

-TimD


Ahlmzhad wrote:

It's not how to make one it's how to play one. All those things you list are bad play, and have nothing to do with alignment. An Assassin that kills PC's because "he's evil" is no better than a Paladin who dominates and demands his beliefs dominate because he's "Lavful Good" both show a player unable to come to the table and be someone you want to game with.

I guess I don't see the need for a book to tell people that if you want to be part of a gaming group, then play nice with the other players and their characters. That problem isn't with alignment, that problem is...

ALL of THIS!!

I have been turned down for some games I have wanted to play and many before and one after it because of "Could you make him Chaotic Neutral maybe instead of Lawful Good?" or the one that really irks me, "We have a Paladin so...". All I really hear in my head is "We have a Paladin and so you all have to be sure this player and his character approves of your RP Mkay?"

The thought of CN being a "safer" play to back than LE is funny to me. Most of my LE chars end up being the voice of reason and twice they have saved people from the slaughter by Paladins who figure since they were bandits they should be slain to a man.

My point is, it's a nice idea but I'm betting it will be a book of Evil Cliche' and more reasons for DM "No Evil" rulings that should be "No A-Hole" rulings.


That should read Chaotic Neutral instead of Lawful Evil.


Wow, I was about to start a new topic about this :P

One more reason to make Ultimate Evil, or Ultimate Villainy:

Hell's Vengeance - The Hell’s Vengeance Adventure Path begins with “The Hellfire Compact,” an exciting new adventure in which the players take the roles of evil characters in the diabolical empire of Cheliax!

The next AP after Hell's Rebel will put the PCs in evil roles. There's one more reason for Paizo to make a supplement about evil characters.


Although not quite on theme, I am guessing Horror Adventures will have SOME elements that might help people playing evil characters.

The Exchange

Just gonna drop this here :D <-- Clicky!


Wait ... you want a whole book on cilantro?


Cilantro killed the thread! I told you it was evil!


Distant Scholar wrote:
Cilantro killed the thread! I told you it was evil!

Ultimate Intrigue is up next for core books. My idea is still up in the air.

I just think that building a villain, be evil or not, is almost an art form. Many DMs often end up making their villains one-sided, cartoonish, brutish and just forgettable. Most of the time, they're one-shot villains, never to be seen again. That's basically how every major antagonist in Paizo's own APs and Modules are built. What if you get captured by a villain or capture yourself a villain? What if he or she manages to escape and come back much stronger later on? What if the villain isn't a typical evil character?

All of this should be addressed IMO.


I've bought a few Villain themed books over the years. None of Pathfinder's offerings yet, unfortunately.

I gotta say, though, the best villain book I've read was way back in Second Edition. The Complete Book of Villains. It had a very extensive writeup on how to make a villain, what motivates a villain, much of it very game-neutral. There were some parts dealing with D&D rules, but for the most part it's applicable to any system you care to use.

Most other game manuals on villains I've read just haven't been able to measure up. Exemplars of Evil was mostly just a bunch of stats for NPCs, most not entirely original. While my GM loves the Book of Vile Darkness, much of it felt like it was trying too hard. With a lot of spells that would be perfectly neutral spells if it wasn't for one of the ingredients being the heart of a child or some such nonsense, a bunch of creatures that would be perfectly acceptable in a normal Monster Manual, and some 'gross' magical items and artifacts. The only thing I really like from that book was the cameo by Nodwick and Crew in one of the chapter illustrations. I also got one book from Kenzer and Company that also felt mostly redundant, including a far too long chapter on flaws, which were literally pages of anti-feats. 'Feats' that did the opposite of some feat, and counted as a flaw. I don't even remember why this was villainous, or why you'd put it in there.

So yeah, best book so far was a second edition book.

I like the idea of a chapter on how to play an evil character.

Community Manager

AEG's "Evil" book for 3E was quite good, IMO.


Liz Courts wrote:
AEG's "Evil" book for 3E was quite good, IMO.

Linkified for ya!


I'd been down for a book like the on described in the OP, but it always seems like every time a company does an evil book it's got to be "EVIL!!!!!!".

I truthfully thought that Book of Vile Darkness was just over the top. I didn't feel like it gave a lot of guidance or practical tools for making a villain.

What I have been liking though is Paizos, Agents of Evil, Faiths of Corruption, and Champions of Evil. That whole alignment series of Player Companions has gone a long way with me and my players. If Paizo made the book in that vain, I'd be 100% down for a purchase.

Even an Ultimate Alignments and let them explore all three in one book.


LizardMage wrote:

I'd been down for a book like the on described in the OP, but it always seems like every time a company does an evil book it's got to be "EVIL!!!!!!".

I truthfully thought that Book of Vile Darkness was just over the top. I didn't feel like it gave a lot of guidance or practical tools for making a villain.

Yeah, the Book... was a little too much of the gory and depraved side... I kinda understood the idea of having torture rules, execution rules, demon lords, archdevils, specific material components and spells, but was it necessary to have the image of a devil follower eating his own hand, a monster than can transfer its taste sensation to its victim and feats that made you thin or fat? Ok, I have nothing against going a little on the "uneasy" side, but that was just too much.

It felt like it was to show darker aspects of evil, rather than showing how to make an Evil character decent. Examplars of Evil gave us better materials to create villains.

LizardMage wrote:
What I have been liking though is Paizos, Agents of Evil, Faiths of Corruption, and Champions of Evil. That whole alignment series of Player Companions has gone a long way with me and my players. If Paizo made the book in that vain, I'd be 100% down for a purchase.

I feel like these simply gave us options to build characters rather than to expand them into detail. I do praise them for giving archetypes to the antipaladin, a class that has been neglected a lot lately, second only by the ninja :P But yeah, Examplars of Evil was a nice supplement to create villains, and Paizo could follow up with their vision as well.


Inner Heru wrote:
Ahlmzhad wrote:

It's not how to make one it's how to play one. All those things you list are bad play, and have nothing to do with alignment. An Assassin that kills PC's because "he's evil" is no better than a Paladin who dominates and demands his beliefs dominate because he's "Lavful Good" both show a player unable to come to the table and be someone you want to game with.

I guess I don't see the need for a book to tell people that if you want to be part of a gaming group, then play nice with the other players and their characters. That problem isn't with alignment, that problem is...

ALL of THIS!!

I have been turned down for some games I have wanted to play and many before and one after it because of "Could you make him Chaotic Neutral maybe instead of Lawful Good?" or the one that really irks me, "We have a Paladin so...". All I really hear in my head is "We have a Paladin and so you all have to be sure this player and his character approves of your RP Mkay?"

The thought of CN being a "safer" play to back than LE is funny to me. Most of my LE chars end up being the voice of reason and twice they have saved people from the slaughter by Paladins who figure since they were bandits they should be slain to a man.

My point is, it's a nice idea but I'm betting it will be a book of Evil Cliche' and more reasons for DM "No Evil" rulings that should be "No A-Hole" rulings.

I recently played a game where one of the PCs was a LE rogue. He was often the most reasonable person in the party (and he got along fairly well with my CG cleric).


Ok, Ultimate Intrigue does address a few things about roleplaying villains, mostly on the political/social side of a game.

I dunno, I feel something is missing, but I cannot put my finger on it...


Still plenty of room for a villain book or two I think.


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There is also room for a Ultimate Good, Ultimate Chaos, Ultimate Law, and the very misunderstood Ultimate Neutral;)


Dragon78 wrote:
There is also room for a Ultimate Good, Ultimate Chaos, Ultimate Law, and the very misunderstood Ultimate Neutral;)

Law and Chaos can be explained with Good and Evil.


How about Ultimate Alignment or Alignment Anthology?

The Exchange

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Wouldn't an Ultimate Neutral starve to death? ("I'm hungry, but eating food might disturb the Cosmic Balance.")

AD&D's Complete Book of Villains was mentioned above. It had a slew of good advice, and since it barely even mentions AD&D mechanics, it's a useful tool for Pathfinder GMs as-is. (Good luck finding a copy, though.)

Things that a book about villainy would do well to cover:

1. Creating LN, N, and CN villains (they always get overlooked):
2. How villains interact (and how PCs can break up alliances or lines of communication):
3. Keeping the villain safe non-magically (front groups, impersonations, etc.)
4. Developing a likeable or worthy opponent (far trickier than presenting the villain as RAWR Evul and incapable of ever changing).
5. Motifs, obsessions, and/or self imposed limits (think 'Batman villain' stuff).


Hey Bard, this is my new gf.

You don't say....

ULTIMATE EVIL


Lincoln Hills wrote:

Wouldn't an Ultimate Neutral starve to death? ("I'm hungry, but eating food might disturb the Cosmic Balance.")

AD&D's Complete Book of Villains was mentioned above. It had a slew of good advice, and since it barely even mentions AD&D mechanics, it's a useful tool for Pathfinder GMs as-is. (Good luck finding a copy, though.)

Things that a book about villainy would do well to cover:

1. Creating LN, N, and CN villains (they always get overlooked):
2. How villains interact (and how PCs can break up alliances or lines of communication):
3. Keeping the villain safe non-magically (front groups, impersonations, etc.)
4. Developing a likeable or worthy opponent (far trickier than presenting the villain as RAWR Evul and incapable of ever changing).
5. Motifs, obsessions, and/or self imposed limits (think 'Batman villain' stuff).

Those are all great ideas that I'd love to see dealt with.

One I might add would be how to handle enemies that are honestly good -- not hypocrites, not nasty fanatics, but genuinely good. There are times I'd like to see an adventure where two good guys (one the PCs) want or need something desperately, but only one of them can get it. It'd be a little different.


Or you could combine all alignments into one book and call it "Ultimate Philosophies".


Dragon78 wrote:
Or you could combine all alignments into one book and call it "Ultimate Philosophies".

I think that they're already good with the separate booklets.

The thing is that "making a villain" isn't just about alignments and moralities.


well this fall we are getting Villain Codex, which I am guessing will have some useful options for villains, much like Monster codex had for some monsters.

Dark Archive

Like, okay, starting post is years old, but aren't you confusing terms villain and antagonist? .-. Villain is pretty much by definition evil and Paladins can't be evil.


Start with Ultimate Neutral.

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