I’m back this week with the other half of how you can make villains for your Bedtime Heroes game of No Thank You, Evil! We’re just picking up with where we left off last time with the approaches (adjectives) for creating a villain.
Approach: Every villain likes to swipe things but thieves are all about the chase. They are sneaky, crafty, and often have plans in place to keep heroes guessing. A thief will try to sneak in and take something (especially without anyone noticing) rather than make a big scene or confront the heroes. They can be sneaky and part of each mission with a thief might be finding them in the first place.
Skill: Pick one of these for your thief villain, roll a die to choose one randomly, or come up with one of your own.
- Always Ready: This villain is ready for trouble and so they always take their action in a fight before the heroes do.
- Decoy: Just as the heroes are grabbing the item, they realize it’s a fake and the villain has the real item.
- I Heard That: As the heroes talk, the sneaky villain is nearby and overhears what they’re talking about. Their secrets are not safe anywhere!
- Like a Shadow: The villain moves quickly and quietly, popping up out of nowhere when they’re least suspected.
- Lockpick: The villain opens something locked, whether that’s a door, a box, or a computer program.
- Quick Grab: The villain steals something from a hero, even though the hero won’t realize it for a while. When the hero goes to get the item, they find it’s already gone!
Approach: Taking things and doing bad stuff is only part of the game for a trickster villain. They like to play jokes, lay traps, and generally set up other people to look foolish. Among friends a practical joke might be surprising but in the end it’s just silly fun. That’s not the case with the trickster’s jokes, they aren’t fun for other people and might actually hurt or upset people. The trickster probably doesn’t care about this. They think it’s funny and that’s what matters most to them.
Skill: Pick one of these for your trickster villain, roll a die to choose one randomly, or come up with one of your own.
- Boo!: The villain pulls a very scary prank that sends another character running and hiding for one round.
- Fake Out: With disguises, magic, shapeshifting, or something else the villain can make themselves look like someone else. Alternatively, you might decide the trickster can create fakes of objects instead. Either way, figuring out the fake is a Smarts roll with a Goal equal to the villain’s level -1.
- Look At You Now!: The villain springs a trap or plays a prank that covers you in something icky or embarrassing (depends on the villain). It stays that way until you do something that adds more Fun to your Fun pool.
- Over Here!: By throwing their voice, using fake footprints, or summoning illusions, the villain makes the heroes think they are headed in another direction. By the time the heroes realize the trick they’ll be long gone.
- Tripwire: One of the villain’s tricks or traps sends a character sprawling to the ground for a round.
- What’s That Behind You?: The villain creates a distraction that makes the Goal of every character In Range one harder during the next round.
Approach: Some folks are just hard to put in a category and hard to put yourself in their shoes. Weirdos are definitely in that case, strange people who often act in ways that are just really hard to understand. They might be from outer space or another dimension and just don’t think the same way as others in the city. Maybe they feel the opposite way about something compared to most people so they think spiders are cuddly or garbage smells amazing. Or maybe they’re just a different type of person. Everyone has their own way of seeing the world, after all, and that’s as true for villains as it is for heroes. Whatever the case, weirdos can be hard to predict and even harder to stop when they start their nonsense plans.
Skill: Pick one of these for your weirdo villain, roll a die to choose one randomly, or come up with one of your own.
- Be Right Back: The weirdo has some way of hiding for a full round. They can’t be seen or heard, they might be in another dimension! When they come back, they get back half of any missing Health (rounded up). The villain can only do this once per adventure.
- Mesmerize: The villain does something distracting causing those In Range to stare in confusion for one round.
- Switcheroo: Through teleporting, a powerful force, or just a clever trick the villain switches two things so that they reverse position. They can even switch characters this way!
- Wait… What?: The villain causes such confusion that a character can’t use their pools or powers in their next round.
The Villain’s Verb: Their Motivation
The verb part of the villain tells why they do something. Why are they out stealing things and getting in the way? In a lot of stories, the villain does something because they are just evil and they don’t have any more depth than that. That’s the easy way out, though, and it’s more interesting for villains to have a reason for their actions. This is especially true in superhero stories where the villains can provide examples of people making bad choices to compare with the heroes who are people making good choices.
- Likes It Their Way
- Shows Off
- Thinks They’re Helping
- Wants to Be Famous
- Wants Everything
- Wants More Power
While some schemes and approaches might seem like they only could be for mean folks (for example, Monstrous and Bully) it’s really the motivation that makes these characters villains. This can be just something cool to note but it also shows a way that you can write stories about these villains. They are people with powers and neat personalities, which makes them just like the superheroes that the players create. What makes villains different, though, is the bad choices they make. They use their powers to steal and mess things up which is why the heroes need to stop them.
Likes It Their Way
Motivation: Not everything goes your way all the time and most people just deal with it. You can’t get your way all the time, right? Well tell that to this villain who tries to make everything all about them and can’t stand to be disappointed. When they want to have something or want to stop something, they just do it and don’t bother to think of other people’s feelings. They especially don’t like when other people get credit for something special and might try to remake it to give them credit instead!
Stuff: Villains that Like It Their Way will have something that makes things theirs. This could be a giant marker for signing their name, a magic wand to turn things their color, a hypnotizing beam for convincing people to do things their way, or something similar.
Motivation: The reason that this villain steals things is simple: to show that they can. They do bad things because they want to show off their abilities and show that they are “better” than other people. Like a lot of bullies and braggers, villains who Show Off usually do it because they are worried that other people think they aren’t good enough. They don’t want to be laughed at or ignored so they go big and bright to make sure everyone knows what they’re capable of.
Stuff: In order to keep people focused on them, villains who Show Off will have something that demands attention. This might be a flashing costume, a royal scepter, an enchanted disco ball, or something similar.
Thinks They’re Helping
Motivation: A villain who Thinks They’re Helping might not actually seem like a villain at all. They certainly don’t see themselves that way, they think that their a hero who is stopping villains in the city. The trouble is that the “hero” only Thinks They’re Helping and they actually make choices that are selfish, mean, or causing more damage than they’re stopping. It might be possible for heroes to work with these well-meaning villains in some cases but until they villains start to see things clearly and make better choices, they will remain villains who only Think They’re Helping.
Stuff: Because they are so much like the heroes, villains who Think They’re Helping should have stuff that is similar to the heroes’ stuff. They might have vehicles like the heroes, a computer for finding other villains’ schemes, something for catching and holding other villains that they find, or something similar.
Wants to Be Famous
Motivation: Everyone wants people to like them, but villains who do bad things because they Want to Be Famous take that feeling too far. They want everyone to know about them and think they’re the best so they make every situation about them and use every chance they get to have more people hear about them. In the city, the superheroes are likely famous since they’re constantly saving other people and stopping villainous plans. This makes the villain who Wants to Be Famous furious because they see anyone else’s fame as making the villain look worse. Of course, superheroes are famous because they put other people first and the city is grateful, but the villain probably can’t see things that way. They might think that the heroes are trying to make them look silly and will try to make the heroes look bad as revenge.
Stuff: These villains will have stuff that makes them look as good as possible. This might be spotlights and glittery make-up, an animal that they ride to look really cool, a camera drone that takes flattering pictures during their schemes and sends them to the local newspaper, or something similar.
Motivation: A villain might want something particular or a type of something, according to the sort of preferences listed in their scheme. What they do with those things when they get that can be different, though. A villain who Wants Everything just likes having those things around. A big pile of stuff makes the villain feel special since they think of that pile as showing how awesome they are. Heroes know that having lots of stuff doesn’t make you better or worse but this villain is only happy when they have things that they can hold and keep away from other people. When something new comes along or (worse) someone else has a special item, this villain is sure to get angry and try to take that thing for their pile of stuff.
Stuff: While they have lots of things (because that makes them feel better) a lot of it might not be especially useful. It’s mostly just there to make the villain feel good, after all. Stuff that is useful might include a way to store their pile of stuff and carry it around, a way to find new stuff that they might want, an alarm to warn them of anyone is trying to get their stuff back to the rightful owners, or something similar.
Wants More Power
Motivation: This is a classic motivation for villains in superhero stories. Villains who Want More Power might have an immediate goal for what they are stealing or something that they hope to accomplish by messing up part of the city, but they ultimately want tons of power. These villains can’t stand to not be the most important ones around and they don’t care much about other people’s feelings. They might want to rule the world, become a king or queen, command every computer in the city, or something else that’s really big. Most of the time this is a background part of the story (“they want to steal the new electric car design so that they can make their own electric cars… and if they do that they can have an army of robot cars and take over the world!”) but every once in a while they might actually get close! This is the sort of super-exciting story that might come as a big finish to a series of other adventures, or as a way to wrap up a game and start something new.
Stuff: The stuff of a villain who Wants More Power might be a background part of the story or it might be a big deal, just like the motivation itself. They might have something that tells them how to reach for more power like a book from the future that says they’ll rule the world some day or an intelligent computer program that tells them the most likely next step in their big plan. On the other hand, they might have something symbolic of their ultimate goal like a crown they intend to wear as king or queen someday, a giant robot hidden somewhere that they’re slowly building, or something similar.
In Part 4, the final post in this series, I’ll be talking about two missing parts for making a story with villains for your Bedtime Heroes to face: sidekicks and plots. These are entirely designed to make things easier for Guides planning out superhero adventures so they could be valuable to other Guides in other genres too! See you then, heroes!