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Deaxsa
2014-03-05, 01:19 PM
if you've ever heard of The Frog Frog, or the successive graves of Fluffies, or mistake of an impatient Psion, do not read this thread. please. for your sake.

In other words, what stops the PCs from doing this (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1134)?

Or what WOULD stop them?
-PC sense of Honor? (If we kill him, we turn into the evil that we are fighting!..or something like that. this is very unreliable, but could lead to some interesting RP AFTER the villain's death)
-Terrifying repercussions? (his guardsmen will all kill you because they are fiercely loyal..)
-Plot armor? (Well, his guardsmen have +23 aid another on AC....)
-Hidden Identity? (Nobody knows who the villain ACTUALLY IS, just a name...)
-Necessity to the PCs? (The PCs can't get rid of him, or they lose something that can't be found anywhere else)
-Resurrection? (you have to defeat his plans, not him, to be successful. otherwise he just comes back, and keeps doing things. Like a lich. Like in OoTS.)

I'm trying to make a villain who the PCs are completely aware of his identity, and I want to make them stew with rage against this man. I want him, however, to be untouchable. Is this impossible? are they going to just assault him anyways? should i make him just a name, so that whenever it crops up, the players can get all riled up that way? I feel like being able to meet your enemy face-to-face could be LOTS of fun.

some context:
i'm running a 3.5 e6 campaign, and i'm trying to create a setting with multiple shakers and movers. at any rate, i recognized the need for several public villains (evil mayors, w/e), and i'm wondering how one goes about making these "public villains" last more than a day.

I am making the assumption, just so you know, that assassinations work.

Sith_Happens
2014-03-05, 01:24 PM
Terrifying repercussions?

This is generally the idea. You can't just off the villain that only you know is a villain because of all the consequences that come with murdering someone extremely important in cold blood.

Revanmal
2014-03-05, 01:25 PM
Make him important and any evidence of his wrongdoing completely untraceable to him. THEY know he's bad, but no one else does, and his reputation is squeaky clean. The people love him, and the guards are on his side. The party COULD kill him at any time, but they'd most certainly be tried for murder and/or treason.

If they DO assassinate him and get away scott free, whatever contingency or backup plan he has in place is up to you.

Red Fel
2014-03-05, 01:34 PM
if you've ever heard of The Frog Frog, or the successive graves of Fluffies, or mistake of an impatient Psion, do not read this thread. please. for your sake.

In other words, what stops the PCs from doing this (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1134)?

When I think of untouchable villains, I think of figures like Lex Luthor and, even better, David Xanatos. Because Luthor occasionally cheeses me off, let's look at Xanatos.

Xanatos is, openly, the head of a major multinational corporation and one of the richest men in the world. So point in his favor number one, he is untouchable because he has the wealth and power to protect himself.

Xanatos is also exceptionally brilliant. There are many tropes that illustrate his layering of plans within plans (here are only two (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit) examples (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosSpeedChess)). He is constantly two steps, seven steps ahead of his enemies, until they turn around and he's standing right behind them. His enemies are exactly where he wants them to be at all times. So point in his favor number two, Xanatos is untouchable because he has the smarts to outmaneuver his adversaries.

While Xanatos is openly a legitimate businessman, he is often suspected of illegal activities. In at least one instance he was actually imprisoned. However, generally speaking, he is legally untouchable, because he always plans his crimes in such a way that they cannot be linked to him (unless he so desires, see "smarts" above), and as a result, the very legal system that would be used against him forbids his incarceration. So point in his favor number three, Xanatos is untouchable because he avails himself of the protections of the law.

Final point, Xanatos favors maneuvering his enemies into helpless positions. His particular nemeses are a race of monstrous creatures who hide from humanity's prying eyes. They may know more about Xanatos' wicked acts than anyone else, but they're in absolutely no position to expose him. So point in his favor number four, Xanatos is untouchable because the only ones who know the truth about him are in no position to stop him.

So put it all together. If you want a villain the heroes can't stop, he needs four attributes. First, he needs power and influence to protect himself. Second, he needs a keen mind to outmaneuver the heroes. Third, he needs a system in place that would punish the heroes if they took action against him - in effect, a cannon to their heads if they put a gun to his. And fourth, he needs to put the heroes in such a position that they're powerless to take action against him.

If he does this, he could even perform his acts of villainy in the open (provided doing so does not run afoul of rule #3, the law), and the heroes could do nothing.

Mewtarthio
2014-03-05, 01:41 PM
Not only is he beyond reproach, he is also necessary. He's taken advantage of his influence to ensure the system will collapse without him. The heroes cannot kill him until they either learn how to stabilize things afterwards or erode his power base so that he is no longer necessary.

Note that this can represent anything from political power ("Okay, first we find an alternate heir to the throne, then we start publicly showing his weaknesses so that people start to develop contingencies in case of his downfall...") to magical MacGuffins ("Having slain the other Guardians of the Threshold, he is the only one who knows the sacred ritual that keeps the Outer Realms at bay! We must defeat the monsters on the other side and restore the Boundary before confronting him, lest his death doom the world!").

Magesmiley
2014-03-05, 02:40 PM
Just because someone is a villain doesn't mean that someone or a large number of someones doesn't like him/her. A leader who caters to the elite by running roughshod over the poor and weak. Or someone who is followed by the majority of their area or even nation and uses that power to turn anger towards a minority (I'll cite WWII as an example of this).

This can play out in several ways in game terms:

The masses adore the villain. Anyone saying something to the contrary gets reported up, with the expected repercussions.
The masses tear the players apart if they do something bad to the person and they're aware of it. You can reinforce this by having it happen to an NPC first.
Several shadowy interests are working behind the scenes to make sure that the villain stays in power, to benefit their own interests.
Powerful benefactors are assisting the villain, giving him resources he wouldn't normally have. This could be items, wealth, magic, bodyguards, etc
.

stupiddDice
2014-03-05, 02:45 PM
Another thing you can do is delay face to face contact until you're ready to have the villain die. Have the PC's fight his expendable henchmen while he pulls the strings.

The risk here though is that the party ends up not really hating/fearing him because he never shows up, so you will have to find other ways to make his presence felt.

Magic items also help. Give him a ring of freedom of movement, some item that lets him teleport, a rod of absorption, and as many defensive magic items as possible.

But really, the best method for keeping him alive depends on what kind of villain he is. Is he a schemer, a manipulative noble or a crime boss? Or is he a brute, a threat because of his own immense strength?

The methods listed above work well for some villains, but we need to know what type of foe he is in order to give more relevant advice.

edit: typo

Magesmiley
2014-03-05, 02:47 PM
Some other ideas on further reflection:

The villain isn't what he/she seems to be. Maybe the mayor is a mind flayer and hiding it. Or has some exotic template that the PCs are unaware of. No one seems to believe the evidence to the contrary. And if the PCs don't know what the villain is until they try something foolhardy, it will probably keep the villain alive.

To run with your plot armor notion...
How about a prophecy involving the villain that is guaranteed to come true. Player actions to the contrary of the prophecy get foiled by fate. The trick to dealing with the villain becomes how handle the villain and his/her plans while not contradicting the prophecy. (This is similar to the idea that time travelers aren't able to create a paradox if you're looking for more ideas.)

veti
2014-03-05, 04:16 PM
He keeps the town poor, but the whole town is also entirely dependent on him. Say it's a mining town - then he owns the mine, without him nobody would know where to ship the product or who to demand payment from. If you kill him, the town effectively dies with him. Imagine how the townsfolk would react to anyone trying to kill him, no matter what else they know about him.

You can imagine a parallel position for any type of economy.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-03-05, 05:06 PM
To run with your plot armor notion...
How about a prophecy involving the villain that is guaranteed to come true. Player actions to the contrary of the prophecy get foiled by fate. The trick to dealing with the villain becomes how handle the villain and his/her plans while not contradicting the prophecy. (This is similar to the idea that time travelers aren't able to create a paradox if you're looking for more ideas.)
One step better: the villain is prophesied as a savior. When the PCs double-check the oracles, they find nothing contrary--the villain is the one who's going to save the world. Even though the PCs know that the villain is doing terrible things.

Double bonus points if you can figure out a way to make the prophecy legitimate.

Mewtarthio
2014-03-05, 05:39 PM
Prophecies and brilliant schemes don't work so well in an RPG. Players won't react the way the villain expects them to, and fate can't hand him a lucky break when the dice say he dies.

Of course, that assumes you're not playing a highly narrativist game. If you're running this in, say, Fate, you can just invoke The One Who Shall Rule Over All to narrate a life-saving coincidence, or roll a Superb Evil Plotting check to retroactively declare that he planned for this all along and sent a decoy.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-03-05, 06:01 PM
In that case, I think you have the more interesting fallout of "...so yeah, they really were the one prophesied to save us all, because the world's about to end. Now what do we do about that?"

homersolo
2014-03-05, 06:08 PM
So, the scenario that I came up with but since I don't play I will give it to the ether of the internet....

Main Bad Guy: Merfolk Vampire

Why you can't kill him: He has one sire that he has control of... a Derro vampire. The derro vampire in turn has several sire that are intensely powerful. The MBG keeps the Derro and his sire in check. The Derro is locked inside a mountain with a magical entrance with antimagic protections. If the Derro is released from the control of the MBG, the Derro would likely use his sire to wipe out the village and to leave the island.

The Big Good Guy: A high level wizard living in the largest village in the center of the Island. He has created an agreement with the MBG that MBG can rule the island, but cannot turn any more creatures, nor can his sires and he cannot leave the island. The people of village send 11 people outside of the city gates each night. Each is used to feed the vampires, but they are not killed. The BGG is honor bound to protect the MBG for so long as he keeps up his agreement.

Mark Hall
2014-03-05, 07:50 PM
To add to the "repercussions of killing him are bad", consider Lethal Weapon 2. The main bad guy is an ambassador. While it's never shown, if anyone found out that Murtagh shot an ambassador, he would be in a world of ****. It's even highlighted in the film... the ambassador, cornered, holds up a badge and reminds Murtagh of his diplomatic immunity.

Murtagh still shot him, of course, because 80s.

Red Fel
2014-03-05, 08:09 PM
An alternative? As Magesmiley suggests, adoring fans, but take it to the next level.

An easy way to do that is with the beloved tyrant. Not just a Vetinari-style ruler, who's obviously Evil but otherwise integral to the continued operations of government. I'm talking beloved. Truly loved and respected by the people.

And it's not hard to do, either. An effective tyrant doesn't just throw his weight around for kicks. He runs an efficient nation. Crime is kept low. Streets are clean. Citizens are healthy and well-educated. Jobs are plentiful. And the public knows it's all thanks to their beloved dictator.

The tyrant keeps a well-trained, well-organized military police force, free of corruption or graft, because the only orders they obey are his. They are efficient and effective, because the only evil tolerated in the city will be his - all other crime gets snuffed out. The streets are clean and the people healthy and well-educated, because a well-trained, well-fed populace is the key to his military power. Jobs are plentiful, because those who cannot fight can supply the military. In this way, every citizen is happy and productive, and all adoringly help to expand their tyrant's power.

Now imagine if a group of so-called heroes came along and informed the people that they planned to overthrow the tyrant and free the country. These people, who were filthy and destitute before their tyrant imposed order at swordpoint, are being told that they get to go back to being filthy and destitute. How do you think they will respond?

Suppose the heroes avoid mentioning their plan to anyone, but somehow manage to confront the villain. He can monologue this entire thing while gesturing out of a grand window. The sounds of guards massing outside of his chamber will be heard. "Leave my kingdom now," he will offer magnanimously, "and my guards will not pursue you beyond the borders. Touch a hair on my head, and every citizen for miles around will clamor for yours."

Let your PCs mull that over for awhile.

Fabletop
2014-03-05, 09:00 PM
I've always been amazed at GMs/DMs/ect who expose the:smallyuk:ir BBEGs to the PCs before the plot/premise 'reveal' point.

Your BBEG should be invisible until thatb scene where you need them, pref. The major conflict. Until then it's jus rumor and twists.

Maybe they think thbe BEBG is someone/thing else. Just keep that NPC out of the PCs' way. It works.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-03-06, 12:05 PM
I've always been amazed at GMs/DMs/ect who expose the:smallyuk:ir BBEGs to the PCs before the plot/premise 'reveal' point.

Your BBEG should be invisible until thatb scene where you need them, pref. The major conflict. Until then it's jus rumor and twists.

Maybe they think thbe BEBG is someone/thing else. Just keep that NPC out of the PCs' way. It works.
That's one way of handling it, sure. It's a lot like how computer RPGs (especially JRPGs) and MMOs like to handle that. It's not the only way, though.

Mark Hall
2014-03-06, 12:16 PM
That's one way of handling it, sure. It's a lot like how computer RPGs (especially JRPGs) and MMOs like to handle that. It's not the only way, though.

I'd speculate that it has to do with the only way you really have to interact with your environment is fight... and they either need to let you fight, or force you not to fight, when you find out who the bad guy is.

With a human GM, you can play out the consequences of "That guy totally just shot Bob the Mayor in the face! For no good reason!" Games have to script that out.

Segev
2014-03-06, 12:25 PM
There is also the "if you fell me, another will take my place" option for dealing with this. Kill him without removing his underlying structures, and his successor just takes over.

Ninja Bear
2014-03-07, 12:58 AM
There is also the "if you fell me, another will take my place" option for dealing with this. Kill him without removing his underlying structures, and his successor just takes over.

"So if the lieutenant now has the same job, we get just as much XP for him, right?"

These are PCs. They'll take "why not just shoot everyone and invade Poland?" as a challenge.

Segev
2014-03-07, 09:13 AM
"So if the lieutenant now has the same job, we get just as much XP for him, right?"

These are PCs. They'll take "why not just shoot everyone and invade Poland?" as a challenge.

"Yep. All 10 exp. The threat of this guy isn't in his physical imposition. To get the exp, you have to take on the CR-appropriate (or way-over-CR) challenge of the whole organization."


This isn't the only trick, of course, but the point is that, if they keep slaughtering individuals one by one, they gain a reputation as shameless murderers with paranoid delusions. And now the actual big bad (whoever happens to be in charge of the organization when the dust settles) has a stronger position to hide his nefarious acts in righteous efforts to bring these evil-doers (the PCs) to justice.

Gavran
2014-03-07, 09:47 AM
One way to make a villain untouchable is to make him better than the alternative. E.g. Johnny Marcone of the Dresden Files. He's the most powerful crime lord in Chicago, but he cuts down on violent and random crime because it's bad for business. He's a bad man who is personally responsible for tons of evils, but his influence keeps anarchy and open gang warfare down.

Mastikator
2014-03-07, 09:54 AM
Make him a public figure that is beloved by his community.
Make the community depend on him somehow.
Make sure the PCs only ever see him when he's in public and surrounded by guards.

If the players are reckless and don't care about consequences then give him and his guards plot armor. If they still attack, have the guards subdue them (it's ok if one dies) and thrown in jail. The mail villain visits them in jail and makes a deal to pardon them if they do something evil for him. Something very evil that makes them complicit.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-03-07, 10:06 AM
One way to make a villain untouchable is to make him better than the alternative. E.g. Johnny Marcone of the Dresden Files. He's the most powerful crime lord in Chicago, but he cuts down on violent and random crime because it's bad for business. He's a bad man who is personally responsible for tons of evils, but his influence keeps anarchy and open gang warfare down.
Of course, you also have to convince the trigger-happy PCs of that.

Drascin
2014-03-07, 10:38 AM
Yeah.

Basically, here's the thing. You can make it very obviously not smart to whack off the villain. Make him liked, well guarded, and someone who is important and useful to others for now and who will be avenged.

But some PCs will sit down on altars of lifedraining after seeing their effects. Some PCs will take cover from fire behind the delicate magical stone keeping the floating continent afloat. Some PCs will jump into the pool of horrible magical mutagen just to see what happens.

In short, sometimes no matter how silly you make it to touch that thing or attack that guy, players will do exactly that.

And then that's when you have to decide what you're going to do with the new situation. A great many times, if you play it straight it's going to be a TPK and new campaign. But if you just shrug it off with little consequences they're only going to get sillier next time. So you need to sit them down and talk to them about please not doing things that force everyone's hand into a decision with no good option, and hope it goes through.

Being a DM can be hard, sometimes.

(Yes, all the PC examples I've used are things my PCs have done)

Gavran
2014-03-07, 12:23 PM
Of course, you also have to convince the trigger-happy PCs of that.

Quite so.

And also that "Oh, he was necessary to stop worse crimes? That's alright, we'll just take over the organization then!" isn't a better solution.

Though that could be a fun game.

Segev
2014-03-07, 02:11 PM
Honestly? Your best bet is to ask yourself why untouchable bad guys are untouchable in the real world. What stops a strong warrior from just punching them until they stop being bad guys?

DigoDragon
2014-03-07, 02:16 PM
Make him a public figure that is beloved by his community.

I did this in a D&D game once. A big bad dragon living in the hills by a large town. Demanded monthly "protection money" or he'd eat the town. However, he was good on his word. This dragon never let any other town-eating critter get anywhere near his income. He also studied up on farming techniques and helped ensure the city had good crops every year (because prosperous crops --> Propserous town --> prosperous dragon).

Eventually the citizens just got used to the dragon running things that he was unofficially the town "mayor". Sure, this is a huge red dragon that was making plans to instigate foreign wars and destroy rivals, amass great forbidden relics to appease his own selfish desires, but he was one of the best darn mayors that when the PCs thought to slay him, the entire town came to the dragon's defense.

Breitheamh
2014-03-07, 02:56 PM
You could, if you are willing to spend the time and effort, essentially design 2 different plots. In one, the PC's don't do the stupid thing of killing the villain in plain sight, and the campaign is all about working within the system to bring it down, etc. In the other, the PC's kill the villain the first time he shows his face, in which case they are now seriously wanted and have a whole country, or at least an army, trying to capture/kill them.

Establish the villain's evilness quickly, show his face soon afterward, and let things play out as they will. If the PC's are trying to be smart, they will have fun with the political intrigue and legal plot that you've created. If they are just trying to "win the campaign," the other plot you've created will pretty quickly force them to be a heck of a lot smarter in their playstyle.

Beyond that, everyone else's suggestions seem like great ideas as well, and the fact that it's an E6 campaign will definitely make it a lot easier to pull off the "Wanted PC's" plot if they go for the direct approach. I've found that most of the time that PC's wreck plots in this way it's simply because they can. They are higher level than everyone else, and "kill everyone; take loot and xp" is just a whole lot simpler. With E6, the player's have a much harder time getting to game-breaking status.

Kaeso
2014-03-08, 01:35 PM
Or what WOULD stop them?
-PC sense of Honor? (If we kill him, we turn into the evil that we are fighting!..or something like that. this is very unreliable, but could lead to some interesting RP AFTER the villain's death)
-Terrifying repercussions? (his guardsmen will all kill you because they are fiercely loyal..)
-Plot armor? (Well, his guardsmen have +23 aid another on AC....)
-Hidden Identity? (Nobody knows who the villain ACTUALLY IS, just a name...)
-Necessity to the PCs? (The PCs can't get rid of him, or they lose something that can't be found anywhere else)
-Resurrection? (you have to defeat his plans, not him, to be successful. otherwise he just comes back, and keeps doing things. Like a lich. Like in OoTS.)

I'm trying to make a villain who the PCs are completely aware of his identity, and I want to make them stew with rage against this man. I want him, however, to be untouchable. Is this impossible? are they going to just assault him anyways? should i make him just a name, so that whenever it crops up, the players can get all riled up that way? I feel like being able to meet your enemy face-to-face could be LOTS of fun.

some context:
i'm running a 3.5 e6 campaign, and i'm trying to create a setting with multiple shakers and movers. at any rate, i recognized the need for several public villains (evil mayors, w/e), and i'm wondering how one goes about making these "public villains" last more than a day.

I am making the assumption, just so you know, that assassinations work.

First of all, I wouldn't want to make him completely untouchable. I'm probably more flexible in this but if a PC manages to kill your unkillable villain, then hats off to them. That just means I'll have to rewrite the campaign.

Instead of making the Public Villain untouchable, make it not worth their while for the PCs to kill this villain. I'd suggest such things as:
-The villain is highly organized and has a loyal set of followers with a strict chain of command. The moment he dies, someone will be able to take over the reigns and continue as if nothing happened (preferably his son, who would have reasons to be loyal due to shared blood).
-The villain possesses a very important role in his society (Prime minister? Nobleman? High priest? Archmage? Guildmaster? You name it!) which would cause an outrage among not only his followers, but everyone in the region if he were killed. Upon his death, expect your PCs being completely unable to buy stuff or sleep in certain areas.
-The villain has connections, he has very powerful friends. Friends that are willing to invest time, resources and even lives into avenging him.
-There is no formal evidence against the villain. I don't care how public he is, a powerful (and clever) enough villain will always make sure that the paperwork ends up on his side. If killed, this would make it downright impossible for the PCs to justify their actions. Perhaps he bought his way into the justice system, or perhaps he's just very discreet when it comes to cleaning up the evidence.
-The villain is paranoid. He never appears anywhere without guards, always wears a chain shirt under his clothes, always has a few potions and scrolls on him just in case, lives in a heavily guarded mansion etc. This makes him not untouchable, but very hard to touch.

In other words, make it hard to kill the public villain and make it completely worthless to kill him: not because of some contrived DM fiat but simply because it does not end the evil (he has a successor), merely causes outrage and gives the PCs a lot of enemies. This is due to simple, logical reasons that make sense in the setting.

If the PCs are suicidal enough to attempt an assassination in spite of all this knowledge, let them. You can't bend them to your will, but you can make them pay dearly for it (and make the campaign interesting in this way, if they're that suicidal).

Good luck!

EDIT: It's your call, but I'd argue against anything related to death in E6. In normal DnD death is cheap because you're fighting against godlike beings and otherworldly terrors. In E6, which is supposed to be low fantasy and closer to our real world, death should have a meaning and consequences. Resurrection existing would make death too cheap to matter.

Razanir
2014-03-08, 11:50 PM
He has really good publicity (and is a nice guy in general), but he has a secret plan to take over everything, and as part of said plan, is temporarily invincible.

russdm
2014-03-09, 12:07 AM
-PC sense of Honor? (If we kill him, we turn into the evil that we are fighting!..or something like that. this is very unreliable, but could lead to some interesting RP AFTER the villain's death)

This is total bs, because it only can apply to heroes that only fought mooks in self-defense. If the PC is like the traditional PC (A murderhobo) than, this reasoning doesn't apply, and I can totally see a paladin being willing to take out the villain with extreme prejudice and accept the consequences.



-Terrifying repercussions? (his guardsmen will all kill you because they are fiercely loyal..)

The PC can just use poison, and since the guardsmen can't do anything to prevent anything, it is fairly guaranteed to work. Also, in the game world presented by D&D, dueling is an acceptable practice, so the PC could challenge the villain to a duel, and given how dueling is accepted, refusing means taking a loss of face, something most villains would be loath to take.



-Plot armor? (Well, his guardsmen have +23 aid another on AC....)

Your players would be justified in calling BS on this. Few villains actually have this, and you end up with the joker immunity garbage that happens if you frankly do this.



-Hidden Identity? (Nobody knows who the villain ACTUALLY IS, just a name...)

Oops? It was the wrong guy? Smart players will try to find out who it actually is, and if they have a suspicion, confirming it will happen if they can pull it off.



-Necessity to the PCs? (The PCs can't get rid of him, or they lose something that can't be found anywhere else)

Don't employ this much if at all. The players will get annoyed very quickly, and tying items into single villains, meaning that you lose afterward, is just messing with your players. There should be multiple approaches to follow, not just the one.



-Resurrection? (you have to defeat his plans, not him, to be successful. otherwise he just comes back, and keeps doing things. Like a lich. Like in OoTS.)

This is easily solved by Killing him, removing his head, Burning the body, and scattering the ashes. This results in him needing a Resurrection or a true resurrection spell to come back. If the villain has access to people with it, then the players should as well. If they don't, then the villain doesn't get it either.



some context:
i'm running a 3.5 e6 campaign, and i'm trying to create a setting with multiple shakers and movers. at any rate, i recognized the need for several public villains (evil mayors, w/e), and i'm wondering how one goes about making these "public villains" last more than a day.

This kind of villains only work for one reason: The rule of Law. They have the law on their side in that either their crimes can't be proved or that they are the law. See Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin for example. Other villains are powerful figures like Tarkin or Vader with minions that are simply too numerous. Other villains simply are hard as get out to locate much less get close enough to kill.

Don't rely on some fiat or other stuff for this. Make the villain beloved or respected or admired or something that makes it hard to imagine hurting them. Also, don't make your villains untouchable because it deprives any point of making an effort in the first place. Why would a PC bother to do anything if they can't do anything at all?

Mewtarthio
2014-03-09, 12:51 AM
He has really good publicity (and is a nice guy in general), but he has a secret plan to take over everything, and as part of said plan, is temporarily invincible.

The solution is to blow up the school!


The PC can just use poison, and since the guardsmen can't do anything to prevent anything, it is fairly guaranteed to work. Also, in the game world presented by D&D, dueling is an acceptable practice, so the PC could challenge the villain to a duel, and given how dueling is accepted, refusing means taking a loss of face, something most villains would be loath to take.

You are seriously underestimating the power of dueling. A random peasant cannot just challenge the king to a duel. The PC issuing the challenge would have to be at least as high-ranking as the villain to be taken seriously. Plus, the villain will almost certainly get to set the terms of the duel to slant things in his favor (not that he'll need to, seeing as he's probably statted up as a challenge to an entire party).

Also, how exactly is poison guaranteed to work?

Oops? It was the wrong guy? Smart players will try to find out who it actually is, and if they have a suspicion, confirming it will happen if they can pull it off.

So, the players have now entered into a game of political espionage and intrigue to identify the true power behind the evil schemes so they can best take him out? Mission. Accomplished. :smallcool:


Don't rely on some fiat or other stuff for this. Make the villain beloved or respected or admired or something that makes it hard to imagine hurting them. Also, don't make your villains untouchable because it deprives any point of making an effort in the first place. Why would a PC bother to do anything if they can't do anything at all?

Okay, it would be pretty lousy if the OP was saying "Hey, guys, I want my villain to be completely invincible and also a public figure so I can constantly rub his success in my player's faces." I doubt that's the intention. I read it as "Hey, guys, I want to encourage my players to fight the bad guys by engaging them on a political/logistical/otherwise not-immediate-murdering level; how do I discourage them from just stabbing the problem in the face when they identify it?"

Belial_the_Leveler
2014-03-10, 03:04 AM
The PCs wear a bunch of hoods and nondescript robes over their gear and faces, cast antidivinations and use lead-lined stuff, then go and murder the public villain. Despite the protection of the Law. Despite potential reprecussions. Despite the villain actually being loved. Despite the possibility of successors for the villain.


That's because the PCs are Chaotic; they don't care about the law whatsoever, nor the public outrage because the public wouldn't know who slew the villain. And the peprecussions and possibility of successors? The PCs will actually want that - more challenges they can murder their way through, more loot and XP for them, more blood for the blood god, skulls for the skull throne.
And if they're Chaotic enough, they might not even care about the villain's plot armor. Suicide bombers and freedom fighters don't care that they can't beat a superpower that outnumbers them ten thousand to one and has tech they can barely understand; they still attack. So why wouldn't the PCs do the same? It isn't as if there are real drawbacks for the players themselves - if they fail they can always roll new characters.






In short, you can't make a villain untouchable against determined players. And the players will eventually be fed up with a villain they theoretically can't touch and make the attempt anyway, regardless of consequences.

NoACWarrior
2014-03-10, 04:44 AM
I personally would make use of a few factors -

RP hooks: make the villain married to one of the PC's sisters or directly connected to a few PC's in some way, but NEVER make a connection for the whole party, you are aiming to make the party be indecisive for a first strike and be unable to act like a lame duck president.

No reward: typically PCs will do things for a reward of some type. Instead of making a dire consequence occur, make it so that killing such a villain won't get the PCs anything at all. Sure, the evil villain can be killed right away, but why bother? Is the villain worth all of the wizard's 3rd level fire balls? What else does the party want to do in the day which killing the villain would make troublesome? Just like how a small car accident SHOULD be reported to insurance and the police, a simple scratch on the bumper is just NOT worth the effort.

Too troublesome: Make the villain appear when the PCs would be greatly inconvenienced. Maybe walking in when the cleric is praying for spells, or the fighter has his chest armor on and not his pants armor on. RP hooks can be useful - such as an appearance when the elf ranger gets too drunk to fight, or the villain visits an orphanage funded by him (perhaps for dubious reasons) making a high damage AoE / ranged attack impossible. These all could potentially cause rifts in the party dynamic which for most teams force a no-go situation.

Not actually evil: this IS overused at times, but using alternate rules you could potentially make the evil villain not really evil, or even better not detectable regardless of magic due to not actually conducting evil yet. Bonus points if you can make a detestable good character who will eventually become evil thus fulfilling the evil villain who will never be taken out by the paladin.

GungHo
2014-03-10, 09:07 AM
Additional complication:
If the tyrant dies, his military genius is lost, and his ability to hold the armies together is the only thing that's holding back the forces of neighboring lands, which might consider the region strategic (farmland, minerals, shipping/trade paths, etc).

Pocket lint
2014-03-10, 08:25 PM
Three words: Spoiled brat heir

Basically, introduce the PCs to his pain in the rear heir, and make it plain that as bad as daddy is, junior is going to be an absolute disaster if he inherits. This doesn't make the BBEG invulnerable, it just means they'll be less inclined to go for a quick kill - unless they can get him legally condemned, which takes evidence, witnesses, etc etc. Plot ahead!

Now, cunning/unscrupulous PCs would attempt to ally with junior. This just gives them more chances to see what an absolute peach he is...

NichG
2014-03-10, 09:08 PM
'The PCs don't know who the real villain is until its time for him to die' is probably the safest way. This isn't just 'hey, theres this suspicious guy we keep encountering but we can't prove its him', this is literally 'the PCs have never heard of the dude in any respect until the very moment he shows up and is ready to be attacked'. So when they investigate how the evil plans are being set up, they only hear second-hand stuff that implies the villain's existence. For example, some local orc tribe starts raiding a village; the PCs take out the tribe and find that the chieftain has strange supernatural powers and is a little crazy; they interrogate him and find out that he just started having hallucinations of his god that taught him magic that really worked and set him against the village. But aside from 'someone gave that guy those hallucinations' there's no trail back. Divinations on the subject reveal a title, but not a name/face/location/etc (in 3.5ed, the villain could have God-blooded of Vecna or is an Elder Evil if you need a RAW explanation)

So the villain exists as an implication, but not as a personality.

If you want someone more public, then you can either have someone who uses methods which are hard for the PCs to justify murder as a response to (the senator who uses political manipulation to make important votes go his way and not the way the PCs want, for example), or you can have someone whose organization is a problem above and beyond just the individual, so even if he gets killed another villain rises from the ranks to take his place (best if the organization has some sort of internal loyalty to their cause, or PCs will try the 'I killed your leader, now I am in charge' shtick). You can even use that to create a Xanatos - the next guy was actually hoping the PCs would take out the boss so he could become boss, and he plays nice with the PCs for awhile until he has need to cross them in the future.

Prince Raven
2014-03-10, 10:12 PM
Three words: Spoiled brat heir

Basically, introduce the PCs to his pain in the rear heir, and make it plain that as bad as daddy is, junior is going to be an absolute disaster if he inherits. This doesn't make the BBEG invulnerable, it just means they'll be less inclined to go for a quick kill - unless they can get him legally condemned, which takes evidence, witnesses, etc etc. Plot ahead!

Now, cunning/unscrupulous PCs would attempt to ally with junior. This just gives them more chances to see what an absolute peach he is...

Ah, the Joffrey Effect.

Hyena
2014-03-11, 01:57 AM
Basically, introduce the PCs to his pain in the rear heir, and make it plain that as bad as daddy is, junior is going to be an absolute disaster if he inherits. This doesn't make the BBEG invulnerable, it just means they'll be less inclined to go for a quick kill - unless they can get him legally condemned, which takes evidence, witnesses, etc etc. Plot ahead!

Do you really think that PCs will think twice before murdering the little brat?

Stubbazubba
2014-03-11, 02:32 AM
There are pretty much two ways to go about this:

1) If the PCs are in a situation where they are a combat challenge to the BBEG and/or his minions right now, then make your villain valuable for the PCs. His regime should actually help them. Then the lines of good and evil get blurred with those of profit and loss.

The Evil King wines and dines his foes, he co-opts them into his own power structure. Upon hearing of their reputation, he offers them titles, gifts, a banquet. He tells jokes, he's personable. He offers them authority to act in his name in the realm. He might even have a quest for them.

First impressions matter: make it a good one, then slowly reveal the evil that supports it. Gulags for political opponents, public torture for small crimes, magistrates receiving huge bribes to keep his allies safe from the law. The populace is cowed, but prosperous and protected.

Now it's the party's turn to decide; do we support a harsh, corrupt dictator who is helping us do good, or do we off him and take a gamble on what replaces him? Or are we going to settle down and run things ourselves? That's another viable option.

2) If they are not a combat threat to him/his goons, then you have the scene from Batman Begins where pre-training Bruce is shown just how much power the mob has in Gotham, where it's all explained to him, with the last bit going like, "Don't come down here with all your hate. You have no idea what it takes to get power in this city, and you never will. I do. Throw 'em out."

Introduce them to an NPC that's about on par with them and have him be easily shut down and beaten to a bloody pulp in front of their eyes. Or something similar. Ease them into the idea that this is going to take more than a few sword swings.

And once they do get powerful enough, you can be sure the BBEG will revert to #1 and try to co-opt them, though he'll have proxies do it since the PCs already have a negative impression of him. A lieutenant governor who praises them publicly and wants to give them official positions, etc. This is the political enemy; if you're small enough to flick away, he flicks you away. If you're big enough to matter, he invites you into the inner circle.

But it's always about how the PCs benefit from him, not how the town or kingdom at large benefits. The default murder-hobo players will just ignore that, because they're in it for the XP, the logistical and political realities be damned.

Fabletop
2014-03-12, 04:52 PM
If you can't risk losing your BBEG, don't;

keep him/her/it hidden until the final climactic battle
pass him/her/it off as a weak & dumb NPC the party wouldn't suspect ("The Usual Suspects")
Present them only when they are so well-defended the PCs can't get off a successful attack
Have the BBEG prepared for a killshot by using an illusion to make the party think they're dead