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The Smart Villain part 3: Lair Landscaping


In part 1 of The Smart Villain we talked about general approaches to smart villains. In part 2 we gave several strategies for how the smart villain uses the community for defense. This time, we’re interested in the external defenses to the smart villain’s lair. Next time we’ll look at internal defenses and tactics, and our final installment will discuss the smart villain’s gear.

If pesky PCs manage to get past the agents, misdirection and pitfalls the smart villain has in place in their local communities, the next set of obstacles they will have to face are in getting to and penetrating the smart villain’s lair.  Here are some common tactics a smart villain will use to secure this line of defense:

About  Matthew J. Neagley

First introduced to RPGs through the DnD Red Box Set in 1990, Matt fights an ongoing battle with GMing ADD, leaving his to-do list littered with the broken wrecks of half-formed campaigns, worlds, characters, settings, and home-brewed systems. Luckily, his wife is also a GM, providing him with time on both sides of the screen.

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4 Comments To "The Smart Villain part 3: Lair Landscaping"

#1 Comment By SchildConstruct On June 13, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

Two glaring omissions in another otherwise good article:

– Tripwires. The wise agent of malevolence will employ all possible means to be informed of the enemy’s presence, be those scrying spells, natives going out in a blaze of loud(!) glory, and dead-man switches like runners not reporting in, or changes in a corridor’s ambience. This allows to prepare ambushes and to find out what the violators of privacy are after.

– Compartmentalization. Evil’s enemies are like a disease, thus infected parts of a lair must be quarantined. Magic, falling rocks, or heavy blast doors are adequate means. Combined with the lair’s traps, this will limit the damage potential of an invading party of adventurers and other go-gooder scum to only one section of the lair.

#2 Comment By Roxysteve On June 14, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

Very nicely done. I like the unspoken subtext – villains don’t want to waste resources re-arming traps and staffing patrols when nature can provide a very good substitute. The lasers will eventually need new batteries, and the sharks can be very effective without them if they are uin a food-sparse environment.

The comments on rest are particularly astute. How many GM’s enforce the fatigue rules in their games I wonder?

I like the way you think on this one.

#3 Comment By DireBadger On June 15, 2011 @ 7:14 am

Does the villain ever have guests? Regularly?

Some villains, particularly those who rely on social connections for power, need to receive a lot of guests. But you don’t want them coming into the Inner Sanctum. So you have to carefully sculpt the lair in more and less public areas, and the style of security would be different; perhaps using non-violent methods in the visitor areas, lethal in the non-public areas.

#4 Comment By Roxysteve On June 15, 2011 @ 10:09 am

@DireBadger – That had me smiling when I factired in the Hollywood-standard quality of evil assistants and troops. I could just see the sign:

“The management regrets the placing of a poisoned spike pit trap C/W boiling honey follow-up cascade and co-located hornet guns in the Gentlemen’s public lavatory in concourse “C”. The trap was intended to stop 11th level plus adventurers from intruding into the private corridors of Castle Evil and mis-located due to a printer’s error on the plans. The management deeply regrets any inconvenience to visitors to the Tour of Castle Evil ride. Survivors or relatives of those entrapped, spiked, poisoned, boiled and stung to death are entitled to vouchers for free meals at the Refectory of Evil”.