Welcome back for more Bedtime Heroes! Last time, I talked about how to make characters for kiddos to play superhero archetypes and today I’ve got some more info on making villains for them to face off against. As with a lot of my projects this has ballooned a little. Originally I hoped to get all things villainous into one post but this one’s being split in half. Look here next Tuesday for the exciting sequel!
Like any other creature in No Thank You, Evil!, villains have a level, health, damage, skills, quirks, and stuff. Turn to page 88 of the rulebook for more information on these things, but they function just the same as any other NTYE! creature. You can always just make up your own villain (or use a creature from another No Thank You, Evil! source) but the process laid out here, similar to creating heroes, lets you create a villain from scratch to population your city with baddies.
- Villains all have a level which can be anything from level 1 (an easy villain or minion) to level 4 (a regular opponent) to level 8 (an incredibly powerful villain). Normally it’s better to set a villain’s level in the middle (3-5) and use plots to raise the challenge (see Part 4). Level also determines health and damage.
- Villains have adjectives, called schemes, which determine their quirk.
- Villains have nouns, called approaches, which determine their skills.
- Villains have verbs, called motivations, which determine their stuff.
Just like with heroes, you can think of all these things in a sentence. The level is who you’re talking about, the scheme is what they’re stealing, the approach is how they’re stealing it, and the motivation is why they are stealing things in the first place. That means the Guide just has to come up with when and where to create a story!
The Villain’s Adjective: Their Scheme
In superhero stories, villain’s enter the plot by having schemes. They want something, want to stop something, want to steal something… They are up to no good and it’s up to the heroes to stop them.
- Alien: A villain from outer space.
- Animal-themed: A villain themed like an animal, just like the heroes.
- Magical: A villain using spells or magic items.
- Monstrous: A villain who is a scary monster.
- Scientific: A villain using inventions or technology.
- Talented: A sneaky villain with amazing skills.
Quirk: Coming down from outer space, alien villains look strange and act stranger. They might have grey skin and big eyes, green faces and tentacle arms, glowing bodies and mechanical voices, or any other thing you can imagine but whatever they look like no one would think they were human.
Scheme: Aliens are in search of human artifacts to steal and take home to impress their alien friends. Comic book collections, video games, Earth movies… They want things that show what life is like on Earth, especially things that lots of Earthlings care about!
Other Ideas: An alien could also be anything that’s definitely different from a human including a fairy or a creature from the deep ocean.
Quirk: Heroes have personas that are like animals and some villains do too! They might resemble the heroes in other ways too, even having vehicles and bases, but they are up to no good. You can roll a die to see what kind of animal the villain is like: 1) bird, 2) fish, 3) mammal, 4) dinosaur, 5) reptile, or 6) bug.
Scheme: Villains with animal themes are usually after things that have to do with their animal. A cat-themed villain might steal Egyptian cat statues, tigers-eye gems, or a leopard from the zoo while a bat-themed villain might take the heroes’ Batman comic collection or try to smash all the streetlights in the City to make it extra dark at night.Other Ideas: An animal-themed villain could really have any kind of theme with a specific creature or object at the center. A moon-themed, plant-themed, element-themed, or even sport-themed villain could work just as well.
Quirk: Superheroes have to deal with a lot of different types of villains, even magical villains that can do things that seem impossible! Magical villains might be witches casting spells, sphinxes using ancient magic, or someone wearing magical bracelets. The sky’s the limit and there’s no reason to make it something sensational. Their abilities come from magic and it’s the most fun when that magic has big flashes of lightning and stuff!
Scheme: Magical villains are almost always after magical items. These might be artifacts from a museum that seem like art but are actually enchanted things. It could also be rare ingredients for magical spells, legendary creatures like dragons or griffons, or spellbooks or scrolls with magical secrets. They might also want to be at a certain place of magical importance at a particular time like a solstice, equinox, or eclipse. Whatever they’re after, the heroes often have to figure out why they are after something in addition to what they are after.
Other Ideas: A magical villain is really just someone who can do things that can’t be explained by normal means so they could also be a villain that uses complicated clockworks or telepathic powers.
Quirk: Sometimes the best idea for a villain is a good old monster! Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, gremlins, gargoyles, ogres, or any other creepy, spooky creature. In lots of stories these things can get pretty scary but in Bedtime Heroes they are often just grumpy and snarly. Remember the rule of saying “No Thank You, Evil!” if things get too spooky.
Scheme: Monstrous villains are often after spooky and creepy things, like stealing all the Halloween decorations in town or taking the reels for the latest scary movie before it premiers. Other times they just want to make things gloomier around town so they might hide cheery birthday decorations, stamp the flowers around town into the mud, or eat all the candy they can find so that no one else gets it. They’re unpleasant and mean as a rule but they’re schemes are not usually complicated.
Other Ideas: A monster could also be anything that’s really scary including a dragon or a dinosaur.
Quirk: While other villains have powers and abilities that come from strange places, scientific villains have technology that lets them chase their schemes. Sometimes they have inventions of their own design (if they are also an Inventor) but other times it might be something they stole a while ago or that someone else made for them. Classic examples from comic books and superhero movies include villains in powered armor suits, wearing belts full of gadgets, or using jetpacks to zoom around.
Scheme: Even though they have some technology, scientific villains always want more. They steal computer parts, new gadgets, and even robots to reprogram!
Other Ideas: A scientific villain can be anyone who uses technology, so they could also be a robot, a time traveller, or an intelligent computer program.
Quirk: While villains and heroes often have superpowers that help them achieve their schemes, talented villains are just really good at something. They might be amazing skateboarders, martial arts experts, silent and sneaky burglars, or fearless rock climbers. They’re villains, though, so they certainly let everyone know how good they are by bragging and making fun of other people. They avoid any situation where they might not be the best, instead making sure that they are always the most skilled and impressive ones around.
Scheme: Even though they’re very impressive, talented villains always want to make sure
Other Ideas: Talented heroes have something that sets them apart from others, but it doesn’t have to be practice that got them that way. Maybe they’re a mutant or they were bit by a radioactive skateboarder.
The Villain’s Noun: Their Approach
The noun part of the villain’s sentence is about their overall look and theme, how they go about achieving the schemes that they are after.
- Bully: This villain acts big and tough to get their way and what they want.
- Breaker: This villain doesn’t steal things and keep them, they break them to bits.
- Creator: This villain makes devices or items to help them take things.
- Thief: This villain sneaks around to steal thing before anyone sees them.
- Trickster: This villain takes things by making traps and playing jokes.
- Weirdo: This villain turns things upside down and makes trouble.
Approach: A bully villain is a mean one and doesn’t make any effort to hide it. When they want something they don’t bother with a clever plan or sneaking around, they just run up and show off their powers to get what they want. It might be easier to trick them or figure out their plan but they’re usually tougher to confront too so you don’t want to meet charging with charging!
Skill: Pick one of these for your bully villain, roll a die to choose one randomly, or come up with one of your own.
- Big Hit: The villain can make an attack that affects all characters In Range and deals damage equal to the villain’s level.
- Don’t Make Me Laugh: The villain’s attitude knocks another character off their game. The character can’t use their pools or powers in the next round.
- Knockdown: The villain knocks two characters In Range to the ground for one round.
- Oh Yeah?: The villain does something intimidating or scary and characters Within Reach spend the next round too frightened to move.
- Tough Stuff: The villain takes 1 less point of damage than normal.
- Won’t Stop Me: The villain crashes through some barrier or obstacle, even a hero using their power to try and stop them.
Approach: The breaker villain is just into watching things go boom. They don’t necessarily try to sneak or steal, they just smash their way through or even steal things just to break them! Some “breakers” are a little different and you might call them “gobblers” instead because they aren’t just breaking things but trying to eat them. Other breakers don’t smash actual objects but might instead enjoy messing up parties, making friends mad at each other, or ruining perfect days.
Skill: Pick one of these for your breaker villain, roll a die to choose one randomly, or come up with one of your own.
- Gulp!: The villain swallows something whole, even a hero! It’s a Tough roll to escape or get it back (the Goal is one less than the villain’s level).
- I Don’t Think So!: The villain is best at ruining plans. When the heroes make a plan to stop the villain’s plot, they must first make a Smarts roll with a Goal equal to the villain’s actual level (without plots).
- Kaboom!: The villain causes such a powerful effect that a character can’t use their skills or pools in their next round.
- Mine!: The villain steals something out of a character’s hand if it’s Within Reach.
- Smash!: The villain busts something so that it no longer works whether it’s a doorknob, computer, or water fountain. Fixing it takes at least a round and a Smart roll with a Goal equal to the villain’s level.
- That Feels Better!: The villain uses something to make themselves stronger! The details depend on the villain but they might eat it, use it to repair themselves, etc. They are restored to full Health. The villain can only do this once per adventure.
Approach: Creator villains are the opposite of breakers. They don’t steal things to smash them, they make new things to steal stuff! A classic creator villain would be a mad scientist with a lab full of inventions (a Scientific Creator) but they could just as easily make things with magic, whistle loudly for their pets to bring them things, or make things out of stuff on the street. Whatever they do to make it happen, their creations are the central part of their plans to steal things.
Skill: Pick one of these for your creator villain, roll a die to choose one randomly, or come up with one of your own.
- Double Trouble: The villain has a weapon that can attack two characters at the same time. It deals damage equal to the villain’s level.
- Escape Plan: The villain has some kind of way to escape a fight when they want to, running away before they can be stopped.
- Out of Nowhere: The villain pulls just the right tool out of thin air, maybe because they use magic or teleporting but they could also have pockets full of tools.
- Personalized: The villain has all sorts of stuff but it only works for them. This might be because they are programmed to only work for the villain, because their too complicated, or because they fall apart in someone else’s hands.
- Restraints: The villain deploys some item that wraps a hero up, ties them down, or otherwise restrains them. They must make a defend roll to escape, the Goal is equal to the villain’s level.
- Stop Them!: The villain has a device or trick that helps a friend to stick with the fight. They can restore a friend to full Health with their action. The villain can only do this once per character each adventure.
Next Time on Bedtime Heroes…
What about the trickster, thief, and weirdo?!? What about villain motivations?!? There’s simply too much on villains for one post so next Tuesday will come their exciting conclusion! … Of villains, I mean. Part 4 will talk about using plots to set up classic superhero stories and using sidekicks to give your villains some flunkies. See you then!