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Fruchtkracher
2015-02-24, 12:56 PM
I am at a loss as to why my PCs should survive. As i why any big evil dude would let them live.
So far I've reasoned that arrogance and underestimating them might be prime reasons, but I kinda cannot play all my BBEGs as such.
Also, after gaining a bit of fame and renown the underestimating shouldn't happen anymore.

In this case, my PC's (at lvl 9) are known for saving the world and stopping a rather major crime syndicate.
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them?

hymer
2015-02-24, 01:03 PM
Some thoughts:
Pick a fight with someone that already took out a few other BBEGs? Risky. Someone who made a lot of grateful and powerful friends? Even worse. Better to just lie low, at least until you get the idea that they're working against you. You may be able to steer them to attack your rival instead.
But how good tabs do BBEGs even have? Do they know every movement the PCs make? And are the PCs that careless in their movements? Aren't there safe havens, where the PCs can let their guard down? And when outside them don't they take precautions? If they don't isn't it about time they learned to do that?

Fiery Diamond
2015-02-24, 01:04 PM
Well, there are four possibilities (probably more)...

1) They don't know the PCs are there - unless the PCs make a splash every time they enter a town, this is possible.
2) They don't think the PCs are going to bother them. The PCs might be a potential threat, sure, but if they attack the PCs and fail, the PCs will DEFINITELY come after them.
3) They actually OVERestimate the PCs and figure that given the PCs accomplishments, there's no way they'll be able to win against the PCs. Better to try to avoid being noticed by the PCs.
4) They don't let the PCs live - they attack. They simply misjudge how much it will take to bring the PCs down. Bam, new plot hook.

sakuuya
2015-02-24, 01:06 PM
My general rule of thumb is to play NPCs the way the party is playing. If the party is the sort to eliminate potential threats before they become actual threats, then they should expect the same tactics from their enemies, but if they're mostly reactive, the bad guys won't react to them unless directly provoked. This is more of a cinematic style than a realistic one, so it might not work for you (since your concern seems to be the way NPCs would realistically react), but it works for me.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-24, 01:07 PM
I am at a loss as to why my PCs should survive. As i why any big evil dude would let them live.
So far I've reasoned that arrogance and underestimating them might be prime reasons, but I kinda cannot play all my BBEGs as such.
Also, after gaining a bit of fame and renown the underestimating shouldn't happen anymore.

In this case, my PC's (at lvl 9) are known for saving the world and stopping a rather major crime syndicate.
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them? The reason why is because if they don't, the game is boring, because the characters are dead.

The in-game reason for that can be anything. There's no point in me giving you examples, because until you accept the real reason why the organizations don't just hire a bunch of suicidal assassins with poisoned blades you won't see any valid reason why they don't. And as soon as you do accept the real reason, you'll think of a lot of in-game reasons, because at that point you're using your creativity to explain why something does work rather than why it doesn't.

I also recommend talking to your players. Any reason someone gives you here isn't going to be worth much if it's not plausible to your players, and everyone finds different things plausible.

This is the exact same way stories and TV shows work. The writers proceed from the assumption that the enemy simply doesn't do the thing they logically could and should do, and then either figures out why that is, or just ignores it. Why don't the police arrive until after the main characters have disappeared from the scene? Because it's plausible and the interesting continuation of the story requires it.

Strigon
2015-02-24, 01:13 PM
Well, some might just want to fly under the radar, some might have bigger fish to fry at the moment, some may be spread too thinly as it is without tangling with a major threat, some might be in the middle of a very delicate procedure, and they can't afford to risk a fight with the PC's.

Besides, not every organization cares about everyone who has ever stopped any other organization. Maybe it's just too expensive for the Thieves Guild of Tel'Tharak to take out some PC's over across the Fellpeak mountains in the neighbouring city, and not every organization has the resources.

Plus, if the syndicate was the big game in town, maybe some people are more interested in filling the power gap than worrying about those who caused it. Not to mention those who might be scared of them, and, oh yes, some people like it when the world is saved and thus don't mess with people who save it.

And some might try to kill them.

There's no reason why sending assassins after your PC's is a bad idea. Perhaps a bit cliched, but good luck making a campaign without any overused tropes. I, for one, would have fun being hunted by an unknown enemy for unknown reasons. If they don't respond to the threat and make an example of their legendary power, perhaps they find their mead tastes a bit funny one night, and wake to find themselves in the lair of (insert new syndicate here).

Mr.Moron
2015-02-24, 01:18 PM
My general rule of thumb is to play NPCs the way the party is playing. If the party is the sort to eliminate potential threats before they become actual threats, then they should expect the same tactics from their enemies, but if they're mostly reactive, the bad guys won't react to them unless directly provoked. This is more of a cinematic style than a realistic one, so it might not work for you (since your concern seems to be the way NPCs would realistically react), but it works for me.

My feelings are kind of similar to this. It's all about tone. If folks killing trying to kill characters in their sleep would destroy the tone and shift focus away from more important elements there isn't any reason to introduce the possibility. I don't care why they aren't doing it and I'm not going to waste time trying to think about it.

Same reason I'm not telling my PCs at the start of every in game day "Roll 10d10. On a roll of all 1s, your character has developed cancer." Like sure I suppose getting cancer is a thing that could conceivable happen in a theoretical sense but it's outside the scope of the game and would be somewhere between tasteless and silly.

If getting knifed-in-your sleep would be in tone, they'll try and do it PCs beware. No sense avoiding it.

JeenLeen
2015-02-24, 01:22 PM
In this case, my PC's (at lvl 9) are known for saving the world and stopping a rather major crime syndicate.
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them?

For your particular example, maybe the syndicates don't get along and the information isn't clearly transmitted about the players to them? Well... no, you say the PCs "are known for" this, so they probably know. I could also see it as the other syndicates are glad to had their rival out of the way, but that gratitude would stop the moment the PCs turn their attention to stopping them.

Perhaps the players just need to understand that, in your game, PCs will die if they get in a circumstance like this. Some games, like D&D, tend to lend to a fantastical idea that you won't run into threats too powerful to handle. You should probably tell your players OOC that, if they act like this, they will get assassinated. Let them be free to challenge other syndicates, but let them know the enemies will act intelligently. And maybe cut some slack if they take a bit to adjust to this playstyle, at least giving a warning IC that it would draw unwanted attention. (I started oWoD: Mage after D&D, and it took a while to realize that we needed to act more discretely.)

Edit: new idea: to put the warning into a game, maybe start off with the NPCs target a friend or family member as a warning, not killing the PCs outright. That gives some adjustment phase.

gom jabbarwocky
2015-02-24, 01:23 PM
A BBEG could have any number of in-game reasons not to immediately squash the PCs like a bug, but this is mostly a matter of narrative convenience and control. Creating a convincing and logical reason for the villain to sit back while the PCs slowly dismantle their empire until the final confrontation... that can be difficult, if you're trying to operate on more realistic sensibilities.

The solution I usually rely on is that the BBEG isn't concerned with the PCs preventing them from conquering the world is because oftentimes, the PCs are already too late - the campaign begins with the BBEG ruling the world in some fashion. The reason they don't squash the PCs as soon as they start causing trouble is because ruling the world (or managing any large organization) is hard. It takes up a lot of your time and resources just managing the bureaucracy of the day-to-day. They can't be bothered to deal with some provincial rabble-rousers when they've got bigger fish to fry and evil schemes to enact. That's why the PCs only face enemies equal to their power - because the BBEG isn't going to send more forces to deal with the task than are considered necessary for the job. Overkill is a waste of resources.

obryn
2015-02-24, 01:26 PM
The reason why is because if they don't, the game is boring, because the characters are dead.
This. Never lose sight of this goal, and come up with reasons beyond "overwhelming arrogance."

Remember that while the narrative purpose of a BBEG is "opposition for the PCs," their in-setting purpose is much broader than just serving as a foil for your party.

First, don't overestimate your BBEGs' networks and resources. If you've already gone ahead and made a villain with near-infinite reach and capability, welp. Gotta figure something out. Make it so there's more threats than just the PCs. Preferably, though, don't make them omnipotent; be reasonable. And that means at least a little fore-thought which will make your campaign world a richer place.

Try and write down your villains' resources and think about their motivations and other immediate conflicts. Just dealing with the PCs can't - and shouldn't - occupy them completely. A crime boss may have a rival syndicate to worry about, the populace to suppress, police to bribe, and still need to keep out of the spotlight, for example. They can't just say, "Well, let's send all 300 of my minions to the party's inn!" because (1) that's incredibly high-risk, (2) almost certainly unprofitable with the lost minions who don't just grow on trees, and (3) expensive because those minions aren't making money while they're in the planning stage.

TechnoWarforged
2015-02-24, 01:38 PM
Or how about giving more chances for the PC to live... via the BBEG making all the mistakes they've pointed out in the Evil Overlord Guide.

A) Monologue distracted the BBEG from noticing the PCs are escaping and now the Players knows the BBEG's plan and escaped with their lives
B) BBEG decided to toy with the PC by throwing them in a Maze full of monsters or a shark tank... the PCs will somehow managed to lived through it
C) BBEG's evil but charmingly hawt daughter freed the PCs as a means to overthrow her father.
D) Incompetent Henchmen. Enough said.

Alternatively the BBEG might turned out to be the good guy. He's Robin Hood and was robbing the Rich to feed the poor and now he implores the PCs to help him overthrow the corrupted monarchy so they don't overtax the people. (and form the new society as an anarcho-syndicalist commune where citizens takes turns to be executive-officer-for-the-week)

or

The PC died... and now their vengeful spirit is trying to fight their way out of hell back into the land of the living to take revenge.

Jay R
2015-02-24, 03:10 PM
Because the BBEG doesn't really notice them until it's too late. It's just that guy Bluepommel or something who keeps showing up for some reason.

Tragak
2015-02-24, 04:05 PM
The reason why is because if they don't, the game is boring, because the characters are dead.

...

I also recommend talking to your players. Any reason someone gives you here isn't going to be worth much if it's not plausible to your players, and everyone finds different things plausible. Basically, this.


I am at a loss as to why my PCs should survive. As i why any big evil dude would let them live.
So far I've reasoned that arrogance and underestimating them might be prime reasons, but I kinda cannot play all my BBEGs as such.
Also, after gaining a bit of fame and renown the underestimating shouldn't happen anymore.

In this case, my PC's (at lvl 9) are known for saving the world and stopping a rather major crime syndicate.
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them? More specifically: no criminal organization tries to kill ALL of their opposition completely (be it law enforcement and vigilantes or rival gangs and syndicates). They prioritize the threats that they feel are urgent and grudgingly accept the threats that they don't.

Secondly, world-ending cataclysms tend to be bad for business, so most crime syndicates wouldn't bother with the kind of power necessary to make something like that happen. If another villain did have that power, put it to use, and these heroes stopped him anyway, why would these smaller-scale villains want to risk getting on the heroes' bad side?

Finally, world-ending cataclysms to be bad for business :smallwink: If the heroes have inadvertently saved the bosses' lives when they saved the world, would the bosses really want to get in the way of them doing it again? Without Apocalyptic Maniacs to keep the Do-Gooders busy and vice versa, the Crime Families would have to be the ones to deal with either/or.

Even if the world isn't about to end, crime syndicates tend to be at each others' throats: what would they prefer: "We and the heroes will fight it out in Round 1, then our rivals will defeat the weakened winner in Round 2" or "We'll wait for the heroes and our rivals to fight it out in Round 1, then we'll defeat the weakened winner in Round 2"?

Fruchtkracher
2015-02-24, 04:09 PM
Thank you so much for all your replies. I really didn't expect half as many in that short a time.



First, don't overestimate your BBEGs' networks and resources. If you've already gone ahead and made a villain with near-infinite reach and capability, welp. Gotta figure something out. Make it so there's more threats than just the PCs. Preferably, though, don't make them omnipotent; be reasonable. And that means at least a little fore-thought which will make your campaign world a richer place.

Try and write down your villains' resources and think about their motivations and other immediate conflicts. Just dealing with the PCs can't - and shouldn't - occupy them completely. A crime boss may have a rival syndicate to worry about, the populace to suppress, police to bribe, and still need to keep out of the spotlight, for example. They can't just say, "Well, let's send all 300 of my minions to the party's inn!" because (1) that's incredibly high-risk, (2) almost certainly unprofitable with the lost minions who don't just grow on trees, and (3) expensive because those minions aren't making money while they're in the planning stage.

I believe this was my main problem. I just took every thief guild and what have you as basically almighty without thinking of what it might take to run them on a daily basis. That should really help me develop them better.

So again, thanks :smallsmile:

Yukitsu
2015-02-24, 04:11 PM
I am at a loss as to why my PCs should survive. As i why any big evil dude would let them live.
So far I've reasoned that arrogance and underestimating them might be prime reasons, but I kinda cannot play all my BBEGs as such.
Also, after gaining a bit of fame and renown the underestimating shouldn't happen anymore.

In this case, my PC's (at lvl 9) are known for saving the world and stopping a rather major crime syndicate.
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them?

Current campaign, the players are a relatively minor element to the grand scheme of things, but the adventure is focused on their contributions to it. If the enemy decided to just blitz out into the open to get at these relatively minor looking individuals, some other extremely powerful entities would just counter attack.

The one before that, I ran my antagonist as a charmer and the PCs decided to join him rather than the alternatives. The PCs ended up schisming after the reveal, but the antagonist got what he wanted from them well before that time. This wasn't a story choice or anything of that sort on my part, they literally just decided to side with the villain.

The one before that, the main antagonist is an emerging lovecraftian deity, the cultists and god itself are completely insane and fall a bit off the "it would make sense to do this" scale.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-24, 04:30 PM
I believe this was my main problem. I just took every thief guild and what have you as basically almighty without thinking of what it might take to run them on a daily basis. That should really help me develop them better.

So again, thanks :smallsmile: Take your cues from TV shows. They have the same problem, oftentimes. Mostly, I feel like the villains don't really want to try a direct approach, even a subtle one. They'd rather succeed at their plan despite the heroes surviving, and without having to risk any real loss.

Duke of URRL
2015-02-24, 04:57 PM
It's easy to fall into the trap of the bad guys should be super prepared. But it's really supply and demand type thing. Can your evil group really afford to have a group of thugs to take out the good guys all the time? It's doubtful. How many good guys 'pop' up a year? But you need to pay the thugs 24/7 365.

And a lot of groups, evil or not, try to go unnoticed.

nedz
2015-02-24, 05:00 PM
I don't use BBEGs. I have a milieux of competing organisations and the PCs usually end up choosing one, or more, of them to work with or be used by. I once had a Lich co-opt a good party in to helping him out.


Same reason I'm not telling my PCs at the start of every in game day "Roll 10d10. On a roll of all 1s, your character has developed cancer." Like sure I suppose getting cancer is a thing that could conceivable happen in a theoretical sense but it's outside the scope of the game and would be somewhere between tasteless and silly.

Well, unless you were running a BSG game I suppose :smallsigh:

Cealocanth
2015-02-24, 05:04 PM
It's all about what's better for the story. I tend to structure the game world in such a way that the prime villains have resources to execute their plan, but only just. After all, most world-ending plans will be expensive. If hiring a team of assassins to take out the players in their sleep would set the plan back because there's not enough in the budget to do it, for example, then the villain may decide it is better to bide his time. If he does end up hiring the assassins, can he really afford to replace them all when the party manages to save themselves and kill the assassins?

In other words, I try to keep my villains from being godlike entities with infinite wealth. If they are, then the players have a much harder fight on their hands and will have to take measures to prevent the world-eating-abomination from noticing them, acting in the shadows in protected bunkers and the like. Even then, such a creature may prefer to send his followers until the PCs become too much of a thorn in its side (after all, destroying the world takes a lot of energy and effort, time better spent than battling petty adventurers).

Sure, you can cheat and give the monsters whatever they need to kill the players with no chance for survival, but to make a villain believable, it is necessary to ask yourself "Just how much would killing the players set back the evil plan?" If the answer is "Not very much at all," then your villian is extremely (and likely overly) powerful and your players will need an almost equally powerful entity to stand a chance. If the answer is "Significantly, but he really wants them dead," then you've made a realistic villain that must act strategically to kill the players.

Jay R
2015-02-25, 08:31 AM
Because if the BBEG's main goal is to stop the party, then he isn't a BBEG; he's just a rival.

Sauron is more concerned with the armies of Gondor than with three little people lost in the wilderness.

The elephant poachers are more concerned with the African governments than with one crazy man raised by apes.

Richelieu is more concerned with the armies of England and Spain, and the revolting Huguenots, than with the actions of four French soldiers.

Darth Vader is more concerned with the rebel alliance than with one small smuggling ship.

Of course, as the PCs rise in power, they will eventually bring themselves to the notice of the BBEG. In movies, this is one of the most suspenseful moments, about 2/3 of the way into the movie, when the villain turns his attention to the heroes, often setting traps or imprisoning them.

Use that as part of your story. After they try and fail to sneak into his castle, have them captured and brought into it.

EccentricCircle
2015-02-25, 09:01 AM
Bear in mind that the Heroes and the villains don't exist in a vacuum. someone who is powerful enough to be a BBEG will have a lot of enemies and will likely be involved in numerous conflicts with other potential BBEGs. Say a new threat emerges and gets them very worried (I.e. the heroes take down one of their lieutenants). Who is to say that they can spare the resources to send an army of assassins after the heroes without one of their other rivals using the opportunity to strike them down?

Tragak
2015-02-25, 09:09 AM
Because if the BBEG's main goal is to stop the party, then he isn't a BBEG; he's just a rival. That is brilliant :smalltongue:

JeenLeen
2015-02-25, 10:13 AM
I just remembered a very good justification used in one game I was in. There were essentially two BBEGs, and one needed the party alive while the other didn't care about us.

It was an oWoD Mage game, based off the published end-of-the-world campaign I think... so I guess I'll use spoiler tags, but it was loosely based off it.

The overall 'quest' was to recreate the Staff of Solomon and use it to heal reality, probably eliminating Paradox and making a peaceful world where humans and supernaturals could co-exist.

One big bad was Voormas, the insane archmage bent on destroying entropy and making everything an unchanging stasis. He was loosely active in the background, but didn't directly interact with us until the very end. We knew he was planning on ending reality, but so are a lot of things and it didn't look like he was important to the game's plot. But then we found out we needed his spear for a minor reason, so we looked into him. And then later we found out we needed his spear to complete the ritual for the main quest, so he was sort of the final boss. He didn't really interact with us unless we directly bothered him, though. Even before the big fight with him (as he was trying to destroy Pluto or something like that), he just told us to go away and only fought back after we attacked him.

In the background, though, the Nephandi were other big bad. They had a prophecy that, if the Staff of Solomon and Voormas' Spear were destroyed, it would eliminate the barrier keeping the Nephandi archmages from earth. (We did not know this in the game; DM told it after game ended.)

We fought an epic battle against Voormas, killed him... but then got killed by an ally that was secretly Nephandi. (Oddly, it was my character's wife, and he was insisting to the others that she was probably Nephandi, and they ignored him. He was pretty much insane by that point, since our 'this will get you executed by the Traditions' actions led to him knowingly having his memories rewritten numerous times, so he really didn't know at a given time whether he knew the truth or something he needed to know because the truth could get him killed. For example, we helped the Technocracy invade Concordia.)
There was going to be a second 'final boss' fight against the Nephandi as we tried to do the ritual to heal reality, but that didn't happen as we got killed before the chance arose. Still, good game.

But, to the point, Voormas was too obsessed to care about us directly and only fought us when we interfered. The Nephandi needed us because we were destined to get the pieces of the Staff and Spear, and for some reason they couldn't, so they wanted us to succeed until they were ready to stop us.


I admit these ideas don't work for more mundane reasons. I can't think of why a syndicate head would want heroic PCs around, or why a leader would be crazy or prideful enough to ignore them and still stay the leader.

Millennium
2015-02-25, 11:30 AM
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them?
Because the PCs don't pose any danger to these organizations, until they have a reason to. If you attack them preemptively, you've given them a reason to come after you. A protracted conflict will drain finite resources that are better spent elsewhere, if at all possible. Better to leave the PCs alone and hope they don't notice.

In the real world, most successful criminal organizations operate under a similar principle: they place great value on not attracting attention to themselves. If you are not making life especially difficult for them, and they do not have some other specific reason to target you, then they will leave you alone, rather than risk angering the wrong person.

So, too, in the game world. Especially after the PCs have already demolished one criminal organization, other such organizations (who know about the incident) should be loath to target them, unless the payoff is huge and the risk is low. They don't want what happened to the previous organization to happen to them.

Taejang
2015-02-25, 12:41 PM
This is the exact same way stories and TV shows work. The writers proceed from the assumption that the enemy simply doesn't do the thing they logically could and should do, and then either figures out why that is, or just ignores it. Why don't the police arrive until after the main characters have disappeared from the scene? Because it's plausible and the interesting continuation of the story requires it.
Not always true. I'm a writer, and rather than come up with plausible reasons for illogical actions, I come up with interesting results to logical actions. It is an established method of writing: character driven storytelling, where the characters do what they want to do and the plot follows.

Though I agree, many stories (regardless of the medium, be it TV or book or whatever) follow plot-driven storytelling, where the plot is established and characters or the world are adjusted to make it work. But not all stories are like this.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-25, 03:00 PM
Not always true. I'm a writer, and rather than come up with plausible reasons for illogical actions, I come up with interesting results to logical actions. It is an established method of writing: character driven storytelling, where the characters do what they want to do and the plot follows.

Though I agree, many stories (regardless of the medium, be it TV or book or whatever) follow plot-driven storytelling, where the plot is established and characters or the world are adjusted to make it work. But not all stories are like this. Understood and agreed. The "interesting results" are tricky, though, since what's "interesting" varies. One might think it's interesting for the enemy to mostly succeed, but for the target to just barely survive in a precarious, costly situation, whereas someone else finds that implausible and foolish. It's the difference between someone buying that the enemy believes "no one could have survived that" and someone smacking their head that the enemy was stupid enough not to get proof (or double-check their proof).

Ultimately, it comes down to buy in. If the reader or player is fine with the enemy not taking them out in one overpowering strike, then they'll accept a wide range of explanations for it, which someone who isn't fine with it wouldn't accept. Heck, fandom is full of poppycock explanations for in-story weirdness, generated by people who really, really want the story to work and make sense.

Taejang
2015-02-25, 03:39 PM
Understood and agreed. The "interesting results" are tricky, though, since what's "interesting" varies. One might think it's interesting for the enemy to mostly succeed, but for the target to just barely survive in a precarious, costly situation, whereas someone else finds that implausible and foolish. It's the difference between someone buying that the enemy believes "no one could have survived that" and someone smacking their head that the enemy was stupid enough not to get proof (or double-check their proof).

Ultimately, it comes down to buy in. If the reader or player is fine with the enemy not taking them out in one overpowering strike, then they'll accept a wide range of explanations for it, which someone who isn't fine with it wouldn't accept. Heck, fandom is full of poppycock explanations for in-story weirdness, generated by people who really, really want the story to work and make sense.
Yes, fandom is full of craziness. Buy in can enable them (like Harry Potter not using a gun), but it doesn't fix the underlying problem. That is my pet peeve, my mission as a writer. It isn't required for a good story (I liked Harry Potter), just my personal vendetta in my own works.

Though you kinda mixed the two story types, essentially saying the enemy was logical in attacking but not logical in ensuring total victory. If the antagonist's personality calls for it, he checks to ensure the protagonist is dead. That means you need him to know the protagonist isn't dead.

Start with that situation (antagonist attacks with overwhelming force and defeats the protagonist, but discovers she isn't dead). Now you can think about the interesting results. Maybe the protagonist is now out of reach (ran away). Maybe allies came to help the protagonist (the police). Maybe there are witnesses now. Maybe the antagonist did search the rubble but the protagonist escaped in the meantime, and now the antagonist knows she escaped. Maybe the antagonist is drained enough that he can't continue the fight (time expired on a spell, ran out of ammo, whatever). These are all things that allow the protagonist to survive without modifying the antagonist's personality or making them illogical, and the result is now a question: what does the antagonist do, knowing his enemy survived?

So you still adjust world events (like making sure the antagonist expended all his ammo), but the characters themselves act true to their personalities (assuming it wasn't a core trait of the antagonist to always have extra ammo). It makes the characters more believable, assuming the reader/player/watcher actually understands the characters' personalities. If they don't, then the writer/DM/whatever needs to show the personality traits or back history better, or reveal more later on.

SiuiS
2015-02-25, 03:54 PM
I am at a loss as to why my PCs should survive. As i why any big evil dude would let them live.
So far I've reasoned that arrogance and underestimating them might be prime reasons, but I kinda cannot play all my BBEGs as such.
Also, after gaining a bit of fame and renown the underestimating shouldn't happen anymore.

In this case, my PC's (at lvl 9) are known for saving the world and stopping a rather major crime syndicate.
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them?

If your games require having a monolithic villain entity which could wipe the players out with aplomb, loom into other antagonist structures.

The BBEG is getting old.

Have someone who's not a BBEG, but a conniver. They have an agenda and manipulate others to get it; they throw obstacles in the party's way by convincing other people to do it. They aren't strong. They aren't secure. They don't have any real power. They CAN'T just kill the party. In fact, they could have left the party alone and been fine. But their paranoia starts the party investigating who attacked them and leads to them being beaten.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-25, 04:03 PM
So you still adjust world events (like making sure the antagonist expended all his ammo), but the characters themselves act true to their personalities (assuming it wasn't a core trait of the antagonist to always have extra ammo). No matter what, if the antagonist wasn't successful it was due to their mistake or due to something too implausible for the antagonist to consider. Fandom is full of people who can't stand that their favorite villain was made to look so ridiculous they the wouldn't have (saved ammo, reserved some strength, triple-checked the proof, etc.) or that the only reason the hero survived was (once again) incredible luck.

It's always funny when a writer hangs a lampshade on a character's miraculous survivability. That's usually the episode where the villain hangs around for some piece of circumstantial evidence that their arrogance drives them to interpret at proof. But it just moves the stupidity of the villain back a notch. That's why the Evil Overlord Checklist exists.

Good luck in your vendetta. I'm no artist, but what I'm coming to understand about art is that realistic representation isn't necessarily better than a representation that leverages the audiences expectations, at least enough so that trying to achieve realism isn't worth it. It's like the Uncanny Valley: near perfection seems weird to us, but making it just slightly cartoony puts us at ease. Same with D&D: I bet most people wouldn't actually enjoy a hyper-real simulation as much as one that exaggerates some things and downplays others. People like their illusions.

Taejang
2015-02-25, 04:11 PM
...Fandom is full of people who can't stand that their favorite villain was made to look so ridiculous they the wouldn't have (saved ammo, reserved some strength, triple-checked the proof, etc.) or that the only reason the hero survived was (once again) incredible luck.

...That's why the Evil Overlord Checklist exists.

Good luck in your vendetta. I'm no artist, but what I'm coming to understand about art is that realistic representation isn't necessarily better than a representation that leverages the audiences expectations, at least enough so that trying to achieve realism isn't worth it. It's like the Uncanny Valley: near perfection seems weird to us, but making it just slightly cartoony puts us at ease. Same with D&D: I bet most people wouldn't actually enjoy a hyper-real simulation as much as one that exaggerates some things and downplays others. People like their illusions.
That's the crux of the matter: making characters into people, with hopes, dreams, and weaknesses. Not just physical weaknesses or gaps in skills, but real people make mistakes, and so should characters, be they antagonists or protagonists or 2D background characters not worthy of being fleshed out.

I do love me some Evil Overlord checklist. As for my vendetta, we'll see how it goes. :smallamused:

Beta Centauri
2015-02-25, 04:20 PM
That's the crux of the matter: making characters into people, with hopes, dreams, and weaknesses. Not just physical weaknesses or gaps in skills, but real people make mistakes, and so should characters, be they antagonists or protagonists or 2D background characters not worthy of being fleshed out. Yes, but there will always be some who feel like the author unfairly attributed a mistake to their favorite character. They turn the usual argument on its head "Oh, you believe in a world with dragons and magic, but you don't believe that someone might be smart enough to avoid a mistake like that?"

Oh, well. Only so much anyone can do, if the audience isn't bought into the larger idea.

Taejang
2015-02-25, 04:29 PM
Yes, but there will always be some who feel like the author unfairly attributed a mistake to their favorite character. They turn the usual argument on its head "Oh, you believe in a world with dragons and magic, but you don't believe that someone might be smart enough to avoid a mistake like that?"

Oh, well. Only so much anyone can do, if the audience isn't bought into the larger idea.
Yep. Or if the audience isn't the type to accept mistakes/character death/etc. No way to get everyone to like your stuff, and with publishing rates what they are, I'll just write how I want and be pleasantly surprised if very many other people like it. :smallbiggrin:

Of course, with a DM and a group of players, you have a very targeted audience and a very specific goal: make sure everyone at the table has fun. Takes some of the guesswork out of the equation, since you can get very direct feedback (either from asking, or observing reactions).

Knaight
2015-02-25, 04:47 PM
Why would any other criminal organisation in the towns they enter let them live long enough to pose a danger to them?

I rarely use BBEGs, so I'm not going to comment on them specifically. With that said, take your example of the criminal organization. They already have enemies. They're already watched. They likely already have at least some of their resources stretched thin. The PCs in your example are already powerful heroes with resources, there's no particular reason to think that the criminal organization even can bring overwhelming force - let alone doing it without leaving gaping vulnerabilities that any of their numerous existing enemies are willing and able to exploit.

This is before getting into whether said foes are even aware of what they're up against. It's not necessarily arrogance to underestimate the threat PCs represent, particularly if it's in the context of underestimating them compared to other threats, as opposed to largely ignoring the one actual enemy they have. If it's a fantasy game and the antagonist is a corrupt duke trying to take over a kingdom with a coup, they might be up against other nobles with armies, resistance fighters, foreign militaries who saw weakness and jumped on it, so on and so forth. Oh, and there's some group of 3-6 independent agents who've independently messed up some stuff, taken some territory and demonstrated they can't hold it, and other such things. That group might eventually prove their undoing, but it's hardly arrogance to think that the other ones are more dangerous.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-25, 04:50 PM
Of course, with a DM and a group of players, you have a very targeted audience and a very specific goal: make sure everyone at the table has fun. Takes some of the guesswork out of the equation, since you can get very direct feedback (either from asking, or observing reactions). This is the key advantage. The explanation doesn't need to be something that everyone everywhere would buy, it just has to be something everyone at the table will buy.

veti
2015-02-25, 05:40 PM
Bear in mind that the Heroes and the villains don't exist in a vacuum. someone who is powerful enough to be a BBEG will have a lot of enemies and will likely be involved in numerous conflicts with other potential BBEGs. Say a new threat emerges and gets them very worried (I.e. the heroes take down one of their lieutenants). Who is to say that they can spare the resources to send an army of assassins after the heroes without one of their other rivals using the opportunity to strike them down?

To add to that: a twist that I've used more than once is for an Evil Mastermind of some sort to manipulate the party into working on their behalf, e.g. by taking out some of their rivals.

Example: a local lord tells the party that he's been having a lot of bandit problems lately and asks them to investigate. The party finds that the bandits are corresponding with, and apparently reporting to, someone called Mr Fluffy. Clues in the correspondence point to Mr Fluffy being a merchant in the town, and eventually the party identifies him, runs him down, he's arrested and imprisoned. Good job!

(Except that the evidence was faked, the lord himself is actually working for the real crime kingpin hereabouts, and he constructed this whole "Mr Fluffy" persona just to mislead the PCs and get rid of a political rival. But nobody's going to find that out for a loooong time to come...)

And meanwhile the lord has other jobs for our now-proven heroes. Like finding this, taking a private message to them, defending a nearby village from that. Some of these might be legit jobs that even the most uptight paladin would have no problem with, others are Not What They Seem, but the long-term effect is to build a bond of trust between the noble and the players. They'll see him as a reliable source of adventure hooks, who gives the rewards he promises. And when he says "Job well done, lads, I don't have anything else for you right now. Perhaps you'd like to go see Whatsername in Nextcity?" - there's an excellent chance they'll just pack up and set off without stopping to question.

Obviously there exists magic that could reveal all this skulduggery for what it is. But for most parties, if the bits they can see all seem to fit together neatly, they won't bother with anything more rigorous. Even if they do, Nondetection is a thing.