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:
- Place your lair in a remote or difficult to approach location: The longer it takes attackers to reach a lair, the more strategies can be employed to protect it. Thus, few smart villains have lairs which are easily accessible. Even those lairs that must be in a populated area can be made inaccessible by wards, security systems or other barriers. In addition, thinking three dimensionally will help secure an otherwise easily breached lair. A skyscraper or a dungeon is much less easily breached than an office building or a guardhouse.
- Use the local inhabitants to your advantage: In the wilderness, encouraging the survival of hostile natives or ferocious wild beasts will stop many trespassers to your domain. Though more difficult in an urban environment because of collateral damage to the community, carefully managed gangs, and stealthy monsters can make the area around a lair inhospitable. If possible make these threats more dangerous by providing them with support. Smart tactics, superior equipment, and shielded weaknesses will increase the threat the locals pose.
- Use false trails to further delay aggressors: Sending those who would attack you on wild goose chases by carefully hiding the right paths to your lair and making the wrong paths obvious increases the time they spend being worn down by your defenses instead of confronting you. The agents a smart villain carefully cultivated in the surrounding communities are perfect delivery systems for these kinds of deceptions with bad directions, false maps, or even guides that are on your payroll. If they have the resources, many smart villains will have multiple decoy lairs, and make their true lair very difficult to find.
- Let the elements soften up foes: If you can place your lair in an area that’s not only remote, but that has difficult weather conditions, foes have to contend with hypothermia or heatstroke, difficult driving or climbing conditions and other hazards that make already difficult travel even more dangerous.
- Make good use of traps: As long as innocents and your own minions aren’t in danger from them, traps can make excellent deterrents to those who seek to harm the smart villain. Nonlethal traps, if checked frequently keep the threat to your allies minimal while slowing down opponents or delivering them into the hands of your minions. Lethal traps must be marked with secret symbols or be in vaguely known locations so that your minions can avoid them.
- Use bait to improve the chance foes will fall for your defenses: Placing small treasures, innocents in danger (or allies pretending to be innocents in danger) or other bait can help lure foes into traps, false trails, or hostile natives. Use the intelligence gathered by your contacts in the community to choose the right bait for the current threat.
- Prevent rest as often as possible: Attackers that can rest, heal, regain resources, or just take a breather are more dangerous than those who cannot, so make sure that your defenses contain a few items that are geared towards keeping them from having downtime. Inhabitants that are especially persistent, even if they aren’t especially threatening, particularly harsh weather conditions, and striking at basic necessities (stealing food, burning tents, slashing tires, etc…) will all keep attackers on the defensive with no time for rest.
- Keep your best minions on front door duty: If opponents DO get to your lair, make sure your best forces are their to greet them. The last thing you want is for foes to make it half way through your lair before someone manages to discover they’re there and sound the alarm. Like the local hostiles, your door guards should be set up for maximum effectiveness, They should also be ready at a moments notice, and the first thing they should do is make sure everyone in your lair knows that company has arrived.