How do you make a compelling, realistic villain rather than just a cartoonishly evil undead?

How do you make a compelling, realistic villain rather than just a cartoonishly evil undead?

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Why would you want to? Cartoonishly evil undeads are fun to kill and you don't have to argue with some neckbeard that wizard-Hitler is not so bad after all.

Give them a reason for doing what they do besides:
-Taking over the world
-Ending the World
-Killing the Heroes

Think - What sort of things would a person do to obtain a goal or fufil an ideal? How would these things affect others? Would they care?

Kuuvira did nothing wrong, so that might help on the whole "compelling" part.

For serious though, find out what your players disagree with, pick one of those things that has actual merit, and make a character who represents those merits.

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You come up with selfish centered but reasonable goals like the desire for money/power/revenge or some extreme but well rooted ideological goal and have them try to achieve them in not outlandish ways.


They need to have something that is, not quite sympathetic, but either well-meant or even better, wrong but understandable given his experiences and ideology.

Look, you're wrong, but OP chose that picture specifically to start this debate so I'm not gonna get into it.

Kuvira is not really a good example of what you're asking for, just an FYI

I was being halfway sarcastic with the spoilered part anyway. Not the actual advice below it though.

Oh forgot to mention that the players need to find either the goals or methods personally reprehensible too for the compelling part.


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Meant to aim at

>find out what your players disagree with, pick one of those things that has actual merit, and make a character who represents those merits.

Pretty much this exactly. A compelling villain will be one whom a certain part of your brain wants to win. You know they're wrong, you know they're going about it the wrong way, but a part of your brain GETS IT. A part of your brain would like it if the world worked that way.

This is more anime specific, but there's some good idea in here, OP

They need proper motivation. No proper villain is evil for the sake of being evil. Often from their perspective they're 100% justified and I'm the right.

I have a pryomancer who no longer feels at home in this realm, (due to magic prosecution and cult shit) so he's spent 20 years studying and and gaining power to return "home." But he doesn't seem to understand that will tear a hole between reals and fuck shit up.

>killing cartoonishly evil undeads
>not foiling their plans and having them yell they'll get you next time
>not getting together with them sometimes to go bowling or gokart racing
I disagree with your life philosophy.

They're undead, you can't -really- kill them.

I have to always remember that most people are not in my group and have not had frank discussions on whether we say "kill" "banished" "dissipated" or "dismembered" when we are talking about undead.
Because you CAN really kill them, but most of the time you're not doing that.

To be killed, you need to be alive. Undead things aren't alive, so they cannot be killed. They can, however, be defeated, vanquished, driven back, destroyed, purified and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

It's actually funny because everyone DOES act like she's cartoonishly evil even though she's very consistent with her beliefs.

>to be killed, you need to be alive
oh no, we're not getting into this discussion.
That's another several hour long one we ALSO had and jesus christ.

How does one kill that which has no life? barring a certain artifact

This might be seen badly, but I consider a good villain someone that the players can genuinely hate. an RPG doesn't have a fluid narrative in which you can find the time and occasions to characterize the antagonist properly, I find (especially with murderhobo players, of which I have an abundance). Characterization is just a small accent on the whole thing, so in order to make a villain compelling I often look into the PCs and find what exactly would tick them off until they want to flay the fucker alive. Then, if and only if I get the time and chances, I take that villain and I give him story or traits that would make him sympathetic, or simply create rapport with the PCs.This process has given my current games some of the most memorable villains our group has ever faced (according to the players themselves)

Let me guess, you're the kind of bitch who likes fun

by murdering it so hard it can't continue being.
if you try hard enough, you can murder pretty much anything.

Everyone is the hero of their own story, no one "real" believes themselves to be evil.

Look at someone like Judge Frollo, corrupt, sadistic, ruthless, cruel, hypocritical, but he genuinely, undeniably a villain, but still he believed himself to be a good man doing the right thing.

If he just did evil for evil sake he'd be more a force of nature, as a man with his many flaws he's more hateable and even pitiable.

Give your villain reasons for their actions: greed, lust, power, order, jealousy, religion, fear, anything to justify it, but not necessarily excuse it.

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Could you murder a rock? What about the sky? Or an incorporeal concept like justice?

>Hello, yes, I'm the king of this nation and your questgiver.
>Everything I do is to meet the demands of an evil lich of which I am stuck in a state of mutual parasitical relationship. He's chained in my basement and I force him to use his magic to give my kingdom power, but at any point he could raise an army of undead to kill us, but he seems content with his lavish treatment.
>Originally, he came to a tribe claiming he was a god, and demonstrated his powers to prove his claim. The tribe captured him to abuse him, but he proved a threat even in captivity. So instead we pampered him. Years later, here we are.
>You already know him sort of, he's the saint whose statue is right in front of the church. I took some artistic license to make him a bit more bold and brash. It seemed to work, since he's got such a huge cult following.
>Anyhow, yes, I maintain and upkeep an order of paladins in his name. Only the most ferociously blinded by faith are allowed within the inner circle, and join the ranks of the inner guard, a small village sized force of thoroughbred guardsmen and sacrifices. Occasionally he rapes them with a skeleton bone. Don't ask for details, I don't watch.
>Yes I realize that I'm playing with forces much bigger than me. Tell me, what should I even do, if not this? Satisfying his desires keeps him content, keeps him from using the powers he's worked so hard to learn. By letting him have this small victory, we avoid giving him a more devastating one.
>Please don't make me feed you too him, I've told him about you and he says the prisoners you took from a few missions ago made the best glazed longpig he's had in centuries.

Easily. It would take a lot more work. It would take about as much work as the sky one, but then you have to kill everyone on the deathstar you used for the sky.

Wasn't the gypsy girls also in her early teens in the book that that's based off of also making him a pedophile?

I dunno, ever since I got done being a teenager I always figured I was neutral, vaguely evil.
I mean, I'm complicit in all sorts of terrible shit, and I've come to accept that, so some of that grease rubs off on me.
Not to mention all the low level evil shit.

Always remember that "A villain is the hero of another story" - with their own goals and reasons for wanting to accomplish them. Also avoid black-and-white morality like a plague. It's usually very easy too, you just have to use some common sense.
Example: dryads approach the party to ask for help stopping the nearby village from cutting down the trees. You can have the village be led be either:
A. an ineffective asshole who destroys the forest for the hell of it, maybe using the profits from selling the timber to buy yet another silver cup for his dining room
B. a reasonable authority figure who needs his people to gather enough fuel before the winter to avoid freezing to death and expand their farming plots to avoid starving to death
Even if you make B. behave in a rude and hostile manner towards the party, at least he will have some good reasons for it.
Another perk for such an approach to antagonists is that it pretty much automatically opens up more options for dealing with them other than just "wholesale slaughter"

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