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The Smart Villain part 4: Interior Design

Lair InteriorIn the first three parts of The Smart Villain, we talked about general approaches to smart villains, the community, and external lair defenses.  This time we’re looking at interior lair defenses and tactics.  In our final installment we’ll discuss the smart villain’s gear.

So as the smart villain, your base has been breached. Good thing you knew this would happen and you’ve planned accordingly with:

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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7 Comments To "The Smart Villain part 4: Interior Design"

#1 Comment By Alias On July 4, 2011 @ 2:07 am

Excellent ideas, as usual. The “False Showdown” reminds me of the “Stainless Steel Rat” book series, particularly one installment where DiGriz battles a time-travelling villain named “He”, prepares the ultimate killing bomb and then throws it… at a hologram.

On the other hand, the GM should als remember that, in the end, the PCs arre supposed, if not to win, at least have a fighting chance. Are you planning to do a follow-up article “The Ultimate Evil-Busting Guide for PCs”?

#2 Comment By Donogh On July 4, 2011 @ 2:51 am

I’d add ‘Redundancies’ to the list too. PCs are adept at spotting a workaround. So have your villain plan for doing without one of the pillars of security (like magic or traps or guards).
A flip-side to the ‘Recruitment Offers’ approach (which I like, a lot!) is to seed spies and infiltrators at likely “base-camp” or provisioning centres travellers to your lair will use. Forewarned is forearmed and all that. Plus a fifth column in the party’s hired muleteers (or whatever) will give the villain an edge…

#3 Comment By Matthew J. Neagley On July 4, 2011 @ 4:55 am

@Alias – I enjoyed a few books in the Stainless Steel Rat series that I picked up at a used book store. They probably do convey the “Oh shit we’re completely outclassed” moments pretty well.

On player win chances, this is just a grab bag of possible options. I suppose if we were talking about a world threatening first class evil genius with unlimited time and resources he might have all of these, but most of the time you’ll want to tailor your villain’s repertoire to make it more appropriate to their resource level (and player challenge level?).

As for a player-based follow up, we don’t currently have any plans for that because we’re a GMing focused site, but there are plenty of player-focused sites out there who probably have counter strategies for most, if not all of these tactics.

@Donogh – Redundancies is a great addition to the list. That’s why I love writing for the stew. Our readers can always come along and improve on my ideas, and that makes my games better. :)

The spies and saboteurs in the base camp and a great addition to part 2 of the article: the community.

#4 Comment By John Arcadian On July 4, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

A great prop to go along with this idea is the villain’s expense sheet. Some players may feel like the GM is just throwing things out there to screw over the party’s good ideas. However, if they happen to find the villain’s “expense sheet” after defeating him (or having their butts kicked), then they won’t feel so slighted about the incredible toughness. Plus the prop would be pretty easy to make. Just detail out your defenses/tactics on a piece of paper and assign a cost to each one. You can even just scribble the costs (an a few notes about the expense of defending against those damn adventurers!) on it in shorthand. It turns it into an in-game item but retains it’s value as notes for the GM.

#5 Comment By SchildConstruct On July 5, 2011 @ 1:08 am

Oh, wow. Didn’t expect to be quoted like that. :)

Anyway, I do have something productive to add:

The wise villain will have dead man’s switches in his lair. It is not enough to wait for minions to send alerts, since the forces of good are sneaky, honourless bastards, willing to wipe out whole groups of minions. Thus, the lair must be alerted when minions fail to report in, as well.

#6 Comment By Redcrow On July 6, 2011 @ 3:56 am

I found Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ an invaluable resource when developing smart villain tactics. Most of its precepts are easily adaptable to small PC vs. NPC encounters.

I also highly recommend Niccolo Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ as a good resource for developing villains who are good at manipulation. Especially if you want to create a villain who hides in plain sight rather than deep inside a dank, trap laden labyrinth in the middle of nowhere.

#7 Comment By LordVreeg On July 20, 2011 @ 11:51 am

I did want to say that I have really enjoyed this series.
(and frankly, GS’s recent return to the original utility level they had)
I’ve always (for decades) been accused of having ‘Prescient Villians’, so I got to the point of writing everything down just so evenyone knew it wasn;t just made up.
They they accused me of having the villain be too smart.
The supergenious NPC who ran the thieve’s guild under one name and the local Orphanage under another, I was playing too smart.
*more sigh*

Maybe my players will read this and finally understand what I was trying to accomplish.

Thanks for a good read and good advice!