Here’s another segment of the Big GM Project on Hot Pink Joysticks. Part of any game is the villain, and in order to make a good game and thus be a good GM, you need to have memorable villains!
Think of the coolest or baddest villains you know. There were obviously a lot of things that made them super-evil, like a lack of morals, the willingness to kill women and children, or any number of other things.
But something that cannot be forgotten is the villain’s DIALOGUE. When you’re working on a villain in a roleplay or a novel or a comic, what that villain says is extremely important. The way he speaks or how he says it can have a huge impact on how your audience (be they readers or players) understands this villain.
Once you’ve realized how important a villain’s dialogue is, you’ll no doubt want to do something to add that layer to your character. There are a couple of ways you can do that — you can create a very specific dialect for your villain and you can give your villain some sort of “catch phrase” or extremely memorable phrase.
The first is slightly more general than the second. How your villain delivers the lines is just as important as what she’s actually saying. Is your villain from an upper-class noble family? Then she should not use words like “don’t,” “aren’t,” or other contractions. Something that simple can add a whole new layer to your villain. If your villain is slightly lower class, perhaps you try to avoid using words that have more than two (or occasionally three) syllables — or just avoid using words that an average high school freshman wouldn’t know the meaning of. It takes some thinking, and often times, this means thinking on your feet when you’re working with a group of players in a roleplay game. But it really adds a whole new layer of realism to your villain.
The second aspect is the more recognizable. There are some lines that forever stand out in the minds of people who have seen it delivered.
“Luke, I am your father.”
Anyone who has seen Episode V remembers that line being delivered in the mechanized voice of Darth Vader. It was a very powerful line. Now, it’ll take a lot of work to build up to anything like that in your own game, but you can start working toward something like that.
For example, in a game of Star Wars Saga Edition I was playing in, my GM (Ben — check out his blog in the blogroll) had created a villain we knew only as Lady Fury for most of the game. Every time we ended up facing some group of dark Jedi or other “mini-boss” styled fight, the antagonists would always start by informing us of the following:
“Lady Fury wants to speak with you.”
And then the fight would begin. Eventually, it started to get a little unnerving when we would hear it.
You can do similar things with your own villains. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a “catch phrase” or anything like that. ANY line can be delivered in such a way that it becomes a powerful memory for your audience. Here are a few ideas gathered from NaNoWriMo that might springboard you in the right direction!
“You are very, very lovely, my dear.”
“When one is in my position, they either conquer the world or learn the piano. And I am rather tone deaf.”
“Evil? No, not really. I’m a realist. Come to think of it, that is so much scarier. What does it say about the world we live in?”
“We ruled the world once, you know. Before religion, before society and civilization. We killers, we rapists and monsters. Before humanity forgot that it was an animal, we were the kings of that sat on those primal thrones. We were Fenris and Jörmungandr. The Grendel and the Grey Man and the Big Bad Wolf. We’re the reason you never forgot to fear the dark.”
Remember — a memorable villain makes a memorable game!