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The Smart Villain part 5: Gear
Posted By Matthew J. Neagley On July 20, 2011 @ 3:23 am In GMing Advice | 6 Comments
The final line of defense a smart villain has is his personal possessions. If his contacts, his lair, his tricky tactics, and his guardians fail, all he has left are his stylish pants and whatever he has in them.
Your smart villain’s gear should be appropriate to their flavor and well suited to the tactics you choose for them (which were partially touched on in part 4) so no two villains will have the same tools, but there are several useful things to keep in mind while choosing their gear:
Buffs and one use items: While the PCs may fall victim to the False Showdown, the smart villain is in their own territory. They have access to security cameras, crystal balls, minions, alarm traps, and other ways to know when the PCs are about to kick in their door. Since they know before the opposition arrives, they can apply buffs at just the right time. Alternately, they may have a setup that buys them a few seconds to buff up once threats arrive such as magic barriers, safe rooms and the like.
Situationally useful Items: Most of the time, PCs opt to carry around items of the greatest general utility. An Ogrebane sword might be great against ogres, but unless you’re fighting them, it’s not as good as your generally enchanted sword, and you’ve lugged around a heavy and expensive lump of iron for nothing. Since Villains are sitting at home waiting for foes to come to them (and have good intelligence if they’ve been using their contacts and surveillance system well), they have access to all their gear and can freely choose whatever is best against the current threat, even if it’s an unusual choice. Of course this assumes that they have the right silver bullet sitting around, which can become a tiresome tactic from the player’s POV, so you might want to roll a villain’s situational gear randomly.
Trading and custom items: Everyone comes into possession of crap they can’t use from time to time and smart villains will be no exception. They might equip their henchmen with these excess items, but they also have the necessary contacts to trade them for items that are more useful or sell them off and commission custom gear. Thus you’ll often find smart villains with signature gear that meshes exactly with their needs and tactics.
Keyed items: If a villain is forced to retreat, and loses his gear in the process, not only has he lost a valuable tool, but he’s increased the power of an opponent who was already able to defeat him. Since you’re having items custom made anyway, why not have them made so they only work for you? While this can be as simple and straightforward as a gun that check it’s holder’s DNA or a wand enchanted to only work for goblins, an even more fun option is an item that imposes penalties or curses but are totally worth the price. A huge sword captured from an oversized villain might impose attack penalties and a bleeding edge laptop might have secret backdoors that allow it’s previous owner to spy on those who own it.
Items with an agenda: Sometimes, losing a piece of gear to a capable, dangerous group of bloodthirsty home invaders actually works in your favor. By making sure that attackers get their hands on just the right piece of gear to wield against rivals, a smart villain can subtly manipulate his attackers’ attention elsewhere, netting both some downtime and a nasty surprise for another adversary.
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