--- In deedsnotwordsd20@y..., "cryptosnark" <cryptosnark@y...> wrote:
> Regarding villain advancement-- It seems like Brad is trying to
> carefully construct a villain that is going through the same life
> experiences that the heroes are (high school and all the
> surrounding drek).
This is correct. I believe that the best hero/villain matches are
those that stem from interconnected origins. The PCs just decided to
use their powers to the benefit of those around them, and the villain
just recently exhibited her first acts of deliberate, premeditated
malice. They're still in the "origin story" stage, before the two
sides meet face-to-face for the first time.
> Sure, he could just assign her massive character levels and heaps
> of power, but I honestly think that the players will feel more
> competitive with her, and each battle will seem more personal, when
> it becomes clear to them that the GM hasn't just turned her into a
> a mega-cosmic-omni-villain.
This is also correct, and it's already happened. The PCs haven't had
much more than a distant look and some second-hand reports of her in
action, but they already hate her because she's messed with people of
importance to the PCs.
> All players unconsciously expect to get trumped by the 20th level
> Uber-Villain until the Climactic Final Showdown, but when the Uber
> -Villain is the same level as most of the characters, each meeting
> is far more uncertain-- and a lot more involving. Losses (by the
> PCs) will be much more keenly felt. The rivalry will (or so I
> confidently predict) be more intense.
I agree with this assessment. There hasn't been so much as words
exchanged, and the PCs are already spoiling for a fight.
> The time-honored key to using a single PC-equivalent villain
> (rather than a "party-equivalent" villain) effectively is to tire
> the PCs out before each encounter with the major antagonist.
Again, this is correct. The trick is to not cop out and make it feel
like you're running the tabletop version of "Double Dragon" or some
other side-scrolling beat-'em-up arcade game. As a devotee of action
movies, I have plenty of good inspiration in my DVD library that uses
this structure very well.
> Remember, if she's the same TR as the PCs, she's roughly capable of
> depleting about 25% of their overall resources (hit points, power
> points, limited daily special feats, etc.) before they can take her
> down (although Brad has more than four PCs, so this balance is
> thrown off a bit). So it's quite fair to have other challenges (her
> goons, her magic traps, her summoned monsters, her whatever-the
> -hell-is-appropriate) to knock the PCs around a bit and give them
> that "not so fresh feeling" before she makes her appearance.
Scott's read my mind.
I've got my reasons for going this way--and I certainly can create
villains by fiat--but I'll finish this post with only one of them: by
taking this approach, I can focus my attention upon the villain as if
he were a PC (yet maintain the detachment that is necessary for good
GMing) and develop him in the same manner. By seeing to the NPC in
this manner, the campaign becomes richer; the NPC's development is a
side story--a tale running concurrent with the main story--that goes
a long way towards informing his actions and beliefs, which makes him
a stronger character (in the dramatic sense) and thus far more fun
for me to play.
That's why I do the work: because it's more fun for me this way.
--Bradford C. Walker