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View Full Version : Let me Monologue, dagnabit!



clothaire
2016-11-24, 10:05 PM
How many movies are there where the evil genius gives away their entire plan and rationale in a moment of over-confidence? Hundreds. How many comic books are there where the villain stops fighting for a second to say "we're not so different, you and I..."? Countless.
How many times have my PCs allowed a villain to get in a single word before they starting raining arrows and fireballs on him? Zero

Please, just once, let my villain, the star NPC of the show, have a moment in the spotlight. Let him give a crazed rant about power. I'll keep it short, just a few lines! I've tried everything, from having the vampire lord start talking the moment you open the door to his lair, to having the cultist begin speaking from behind an innocent human shield: none of it works!

And yes, I'll weave the same world-building points into a conversation with a mayor later, and I'll have the now-rescued human shield explain the villain's plan. That's not the point! If the only thing a villain does is get ambushed, they're not very interesting.

I swear to God that all my BGs from now on will know hold person. Or maybe I'll just stop writing monologues :smalltongue:

Koo Rehtorb
2016-11-24, 10:12 PM
Magical intercoms.

NecroDancer
2016-11-24, 10:55 PM
Use illusions to deliver the speeches and to provide a distraction so the villian can sneak up on the heroes

shadow_archmagi
2016-11-24, 10:58 PM
Give the PCs a powerful item that takes 30 seconds to charge. Then they'll not only let you monologue, they'll high five at how smart they are for letting him monologue while they power up.

Solaris
2016-11-24, 11:44 PM
Use illusions to deliver the speeches and to provide a distraction so the villian can sneak up on the heroes

^ Do this at least once.

Players metagame all the time and play innocent. The least they could do is metagame in your favor every once in a while.

Mechalich
2016-11-25, 12:43 AM
I've tried everything, from having the vampire lord start talking the moment you open the door to his lair

How, exactly, are the PCs pre-empting this? Talking is a free action, and you are the GM, combat starts when you say it starts. You can easily squeeze in a few lines before anyone is allowed to roll initiative.

If you're monologueing and a PC rolls to attack and cuts in with something like 'I roll a seventeen to hit' you are absolutely within your rights to say 'it's not your turn, no, you don't.' Games are collaborative, and the GM gets to participate too. Obviously it's not cool to go on and on like you're accepting an Oscar, and sometimes the PCs should get the drop on the villain and gank him in the back, but players who aren't being reasonable about this aren't being very fair. They wouldn't appreciate being instantly cut off in pre-combat dialogue either.

hymer
2016-11-25, 02:11 AM
I'll add handouts, talking to the players, and a good opener:

Handouts of the villain's power-mad scribblings can work. They can serve as exposition and give clues to treasure. Let them do both to train your players to pay attention to mere words (maybe have an NPC point out that they're missing a clue to treasure if they don't read stuff - perhaps by getting the treasure for themselves). It can be the villain's notes to self, but also dispatches to underlings.

Talking to the players would help you find out why they avoid the monologues. If it's because they find them trite and cliché, then you should probably drop them altogether. If they're just worried they're wasting an opportunity in combat, explain to them how they're not. If they feel it's the best way to play their characters, maybe you need the vaillian's rants to be more personally important to one or more PCs.

A good opener grabs the PCs' attention and makes them want to hear this guy out. I'm your father, only I know the code to the safe, did you know I sent my henchmen to pick up your family, etc.

:smallsmile:

Lorsa
2016-11-25, 02:22 AM
I think you have two options.

Either you tell your players straight out that you want to hold evil monologues with your villain NPCs, and ask them to hold off killing until it is done, or you skip them entirely.

Personally, I go with the second option.

Martin Greywolf
2016-11-25, 03:02 AM
If your villain waits until the PCs are in his hidey-hole before he starts talking their ear off, you've waited far, far too long. Best villains appear a lot sooner to do the necessary exposition, when PCs have no way of attacking them for one reason or another. One staple of this is overheard conversation, when your characters are sneaking around and don't want to be discovered, another is "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to dine" - PCs and villain run into each other in public where overt violence would be a no-no. Annual balls and other social functions work well for this.

Another option, though tricky to pull off, is a villain so powerful that fighting him would be foolish at best. Cardinal Richelieu from Three musketeers is a great example of such a villain, not the least because all his power lies in his influence - hell, he's even a friendly antagonist, because revenge is bad business, and he'd rather have the musketeers working for him.

The most rewarding, and most difficult, is a villain who isn't really a villain as much as an antagonist - PCs kinda like the guy, but their goals are opposed. If you manage to pull this off, PCs will grasp at straws to figure a way out of a situation without it coming to blows - which has a nice caveat of starting every confrontation with this guy with a lengthy talk.

Now, most of these are not monologues, but monologues are considered terribly cliche for a good reason.

Oh, and if you just want to get some character injected into your villain, allow no-actions-needed mid-battle banter, and say something rather cutting every round, see if your PCs will just ignore the guy then. This may be the best way to do exposition about plans, honestly, and it makes fights be more than "I roll for 5 damage". More along the lines of "I'm shocked that you never gazed at your wife."

Delusion
2016-11-25, 06:08 AM
If your villain waits until the PCs are in his hidey-hole before he starts talking their ear off, you've waited far, far too long. Best villains appear a lot sooner to do the necessary exposition, when PCs have no way of attacking them for one reason or another. One staple of this is overheard conversation, when your characters are sneaking around and don't want to be discovered, another is "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to dine" - PCs and villain run into each other in public where overt violence would be a no-no. Annual balls and other social functions work well for this.

Another option, though tricky to pull off, is a villain so powerful that fighting him would be foolish at best. Cardinal Richelieu from Three musketeers is a great example of such a villain, not the least because all his power lies in his influence - hell, he's even a friendly antagonist, because revenge is bad business, and he'd rather have the musketeers working for him.

The most rewarding, and most difficult, is a villain who isn't really a villain as much as an antagonist - PCs kinda like the guy, but their goals are opposed. If you manage to pull this off, PCs will grasp at straws to figure a way out of a situation without it coming to blows - which has a nice caveat of starting every confrontation with this guy with a lengthy talk.

Now, most of these are not monologues, but monologues are considered terribly cliche for a good reason.

Oh, and if you just want to get some character injected into your villain, allow no-actions-needed mid-battle banter, and say something rather cutting every round, see if your PCs will just ignore the guy then. This may be the best way to do exposition about plans, honestly, and it makes fights be more than "I roll for 5 damage". More along the lines of "I'm shocked that you never gazed at your wife."

Seconding all of this.


How, exactly, are the PCs pre-empting this? Talking is a free action, and you are the GM, combat starts when you say it starts. You can easily squeeze in a few lines before anyone is allowed to roll initiative.

If you're monologueing and a PC rolls to attack and cuts in with something like 'I roll a seventeen to hit' you are absolutely within your rights to say 'it's not your turn, no, you don't.' Games are collaborative, and the GM gets to participate too. Obviously it's not cool to go on and on like you're accepting an Oscar, and sometimes the PCs should get the drop on the villain and gank him in the back, but players who aren't being reasonable about this aren't being very fair. They wouldn't appreciate being instantly cut off in pre-combat dialogue either.

This I wouldn't do. It sounds ridiculously immersion breaking to me.

"I shoot him while he is standing there monologueing."
"No, you can't. You don't roll initiative until he is finished."

Combat rounds are abstractions. Characters are acting mostly simultaneously, they don't wait doing nothing until people with higher initiative are finished with their turns. Stopping player from acting until the monologue is finished because you haven't allowed them to roll initiative yet would just break the fourth wall too much for me to take the rest of the scene seriously as a player.

Satinavian
2016-11-25, 07:01 AM
Basically there are two options :

- You don't care if it is realistic or not, the adventure follows the rules of drama and those demand appropriate speaches at certain times. You need players who want to play that way.

- You make sure there are realistic, compelling reasons to hear the monologue. Entrenched positions/fortifications/awaited reinforments... situation where there is nothing to be gained from acting now and nothing lost by talking are important. And when there exit reasons to back down or a chance (well and incentive) to avoid bloodshed by diplomacy, you will regularly get your speech.

Stealth Marmot
2016-11-25, 07:35 AM
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TalkingIsAFreeAction

Anyway, I played in a group that actually allowed both players and DM to say "aside" or "Monologue" and doing so would pause everything for dramatic purposes to allow someone to make a speech, either to a specific person or a group respectively. This usually wasn't done mid-battle but occasionally was. The idea was simply to not abuse it. I suggest you bring up that idea with the group.

It was worth noting however that if someone didn't specify the monologue that time would be passing normally. There was one incident where we scryed and teleported into a villains area and he started negotiating. My character hid, trying too act as if I wasn't there, and I figured out what was going on but yelling out "HE'S DELAYING YOU UNTIL THE BUFFS WE CAST WEAR OFF!" would have given away my position.

I was tempted to have my character just ditch right there.

hifidelity2
2016-11-25, 07:47 AM
Give the PCs a powerful item that takes 30 seconds to charge. Then they'll not only let you monologue, they'll high five at how smart they are for letting him monologue while they power up.
I like this one

Blackhawk748
2016-11-25, 10:16 AM
Have a monologue button. Like an actual button that sits on the table (i used one of those wall lights you press and lights up) and when its on the person who hit it gets to monologue. The fun part is the players can hit the button too. We came up with this idea for an Oriental style game and we felt that overly dramatic monologuing was important. It was also hilarious as me and another player used it all the time and we hammed it the hell up.

Segev
2016-11-25, 11:20 AM
Hit them with dispelling effects before they run into the villain. Have the villain buffed with an unfair array of short-duration buffs. While the PCs are re-buffing, monologue. Have him mock them for attacking while he's so well-protected as part of this monologue if they try. By the time he is done monologing, they can be buffed again and his are near wearing off.

D+1
2016-11-25, 11:30 AM
That's what Project Image is for.

Xuc Xac
2016-11-25, 01:24 PM
Some initiative systems sort actions by type. For example, "move magic missile mêlée" where all movement happens first, then spells go off, then missile attacks, then mêlée attacks last. This is usually done to give spellcasters and archers a chance to do something before getting charged and locked into mêlée by a quick swordsman with a high initiative.

You could just retrain your players by using a "dramatic initiative" system: talkers go first, then movers, then non-combat actions, then attacks go last. That way, everybody has a chance to say something (and maybe flip some switches, activate items, drink healing potions, etc.) before the attacks. The vampire lord gets to chew some scenery and call the PCs "lowly cattle" or something, the party paladin gets to mouth off about how "the power of (insert deity here) compels you" without missing an action for the sake of hamming it up, potion junkies can juice up, and then fighting. Next round, everybody gets another chance to exchange verbal barbs and quips. This also helps the pure fighter types simulate sword fights with pauses to circle each other and do more interesting things than "I take a five foot step and take a swing at him... Again." Eventually, players will just get used to talking being one more thing that happens in a fight and not something to try to skip for tactical advantage.

Stealth Marmot
2016-11-25, 01:38 PM
Some initiative systems sort actions by type. For example, "move magic missile mêlée" where all movement happens first, then spells go off, then missile attacks, then mêlée attacks last. This is usually done to give spellcasters and archers a chance to do something before getting charged and locked into mêlée by a quick swordsman with a high initiative.

You could just retrain your players by using a "dramatic initiative" system: talkers go first, then movers, then non-combat actions, then attacks go last. That way, everybody has a chance to say something (and maybe flip some switches, activate items, drink healing potions, etc.) before the attacks. The vampire lord gets to chew some scenery and call the PCs "lowly cattle" or something, the party paladin gets to mouth off about how "the power of (insert deity here) compels you" without missing an action for the sake of hamming it up, potion junkies can juice up, and then fighting. Next round, everybody gets another chance to exchange verbal barbs and quips. This also helps the pure fighter types simulate sword fights with pauses to circle each other and do more interesting things than "I take a five foot step and take a swing at him... Again." Eventually, players will just get used to talking being one more thing that happens in a fight and not something to try to skip for tactical advantage.

While a perfectly valid form of initiative, this is a lot like having your whole house dug up and rotated 90 degrees because the sun got in your eyes in the morning instead of buying a window shade.

This initiative process changes the way initiative and combat works DRAMATICALLY. Sure it's not a bad basis for an initiative style, but it would affect so much about how combat works that just about everything else about combat would be affected, including the game's balance.

Personally, I vote for the Monologue button. If there is a situation or setting that is not made better with giant buttons, I have yet to see it.

Darth Ultron
2016-11-25, 02:01 PM
If your at the start of a combat type encounter and the characters are ready or a fight and you have a bunch of ''kill, loot, repeat'' roll players, then sure they will just attack and you can't monologue. So the most obvious thing to do is not have a combat encounter.

Have a role playing encounter, with no combat. Of course, you need a group that agrees role playing is something they want to do. After all, if you bother to ask, most players will say they want ''50% role play and 50% action''. Assuming the players are not just lying, you will then be able to do a pure, no combat, role play encounter.

Having the NPC do a monologue during dinner is a classic. Even if the players don't go to McEvil's castle, he can still show up as a dinner guest. Or any other such activity.

The rules are full of ways to defeat the characters, without killing them. So you can have them all forced to listen to a monologue. A lot of PC are optimized, so you will need to ''force'' the defeat to happen or out optimize the Pcs.

VoxRationis
2016-11-25, 02:17 PM
The classic "I will destroy the world in X way" monologue is unlikely to fly. Even in situations where the PCs would be punished for attacking him (such as social events), the PCs are likely to consider it worth the consequences to knock out a world-ending villain before he can prepare for combat. So you might want to keep the monologuing to subjects less attack-worthy, or otherwise make it clear that they can't just knock him out with a quick volley from ambush. Have the PCs meet the villain while they're too low-level to fight him—possibly showcasing him defeating an opponent they couldn't handle, even as a team. Or have the villain monologue through intermediaries. His heralds come, demanding land and water as signs of submission—heck, they might just read the whole monologue from a scroll. His enemies meet with the PCs and explain what a threat the villain is and how important it is to bring him down.

Or maybe just break up his monologue into little snippets you can give round-by-round, if the fight with the villain is appropriately long (padding with minions helps in this regard).

Tiktakkat
2016-11-25, 02:38 PM
Start having villains gasp out partial clues as they die, then leave enough other partial clues that the players suspect that they killed him before he could reveal the location of the +20 MacGuffin of Kewl, or the key to stopping the Apocalypse of Doom that is about to strike their kingdom/home/favorite tavern, or just a chance not to walk into the Gratuitous Trap or Inappropriate Damage.
After a few, they may reconsider giving the villains a chance to blather on a bit at dramatic moments.

Jay R
2016-11-25, 02:52 PM
It wasn't my fault! The DM sent an epic-level vampire after us. This was a villain far beyond our abilities, and he wasn't going to kill us. He was there to prove his powers, monologue, and inspire fear.

We were slowly going down. Most of us were trapped where we couldn’t hurt him at all, but my Ranger got behind him. I probably was only getting one shot before he took me down.

I rolled a 20. That’s a critical hit if I confirm it, which I did.

So I roll a percentile die for the critical hit. We're using an old Critical hit table from an early issue of The Dragon. I rolled 00.

00. Decapitated. Immediate death.

The DM moaned, “He didn’t even get to do his monologue.”

But I didn't attack him before his monologue. He attacked us before his monologue.

[I generally prefer to win with good tactics and intelligence, but occasionally pure dumb luck can be satisfying, too.]

PinkSpray
2016-11-25, 06:15 PM
You could take a tip from the Darkknight trilogy: introduce the villains as allies.

In " Batman Begins" Ras Al Ghul tells Bruce Wayne what he means to do while training him as a mentor. In "Darkknight" Joker explains his plan while imprisoned even saying he likes Batman. Dent explains his mindset to Wayne over dinner. In "Darkknight Rises" Wayne learns about Selina Kyle while dancing with her and he gets Talia's mindset while talking with her. She's a survivor.

Villains should be more than the one-dimensional foe. They should have ties to the setting that allow the PCs to interact with them BEFORE the big fight. This makes for phenomenal twists.

It's an old screenwriting formula: a foe, a nemesis, and an anti-hero. Goyer uses this perfectly. With multiple oppobents, the GM can hide the main villain even disguising them as an ally who shares their motive with the characters.

Mastering writing tips makes you a better GM. I promise ;)

flond
2016-11-25, 07:07 PM
Also...see if they've been...trained for lack of a better word to do this. If a villian's ever used a monologue as time spent to set something up, or otherwise run out the clock with talking...well that's a pretty strong incentive to never ever let it happen again.

Cluedrew
2016-11-25, 07:20 PM
What? The STRB (Story Telling Regulatory Board), who's standards are followed both by the Adventure's Union and Villains Inc. recommends at least 35 seconds of villain monolog before a notable battle and up to 2 minutes for a final show down. There is a story behind this, but I forget what it is.

Yuki Akuma
2016-11-25, 07:36 PM
Can't you just ask your players to let you read the cool monologue you wrote?

You're meant to get to have fun, too.

Solaris
2016-11-25, 08:10 PM
Seconding all of this.



This I wouldn't do. It sounds ridiculously immersion breaking to me.

"I shoot him while he is standing there monologueing."
"No, you can't. You don't roll initiative until he is finished."

Combat rounds are abstractions. Characters are acting mostly simultaneously, they don't wait doing nothing until people with higher initiative are finished with their turns. Stopping player from acting until the monologue is finished because you haven't allowed them to roll initiative yet would just break the fourth wall too much for me to take the rest of the scene seriously as a player.

By this logic, you can interrupt someone else's attack with your own action without using a readied action.
Combat rounds are abstractions. That means the NPCs get to finish their rounds, too.

Koo Rehtorb
2016-11-25, 08:16 PM
That means the NPCs get to finish their rounds, too.

The NPC has every right to take six seconds of his monologue when it's his turn.

clothaire
2016-11-25, 08:54 PM
What? The STRB (Story Telling Regulatory Board), who's standards are followed both by the Adventure's Union and Villains Inc. recommends at least 35 seconds of villain monolog before a notable battle and up to 2 minutes for a final show down. There is a story behind this, but I forget what it is.

Don't worry, I sent a formal complaint to the STRB. I expect a response in 6 to 8 business days.

Lots of great tips in this thread, most of them come down to "git gud at writing, son" :smallbiggrin: Definitely going to try out the "inappropriate monologue at a dinner party" idea real soon.

Cluedrew
2016-11-25, 09:29 PM
To clothaire: Thank you for running with that.

Green Elf
2016-11-25, 11:15 PM
How, exactly, are the PCs pre-empting this? Talking is a free action, and you are the GM, combat starts when you say it starts. You can easily squeeze in a few lines before anyone is allowed to roll initiative.

If you're monologueing and a PC rolls to attack and cuts in with something like 'I roll a seventeen to hit' you are absolutely within your rights to say 'it's not your turn, no, you don't.' Games are collaborative, and the GM gets to participate too. Obviously it's not cool to go on and on like you're accepting an Oscar, and sometimes the PCs should get the drop on the villain and gank him in the back, but players who aren't being reasonable about this aren't being very fair. They wouldn't appreciate being instantly cut off in pre-combat dialogue either.

I completely agree. But, all of this comes down to one thing which I've posted like five times.

RULE 0: THE RULE OF FUN

Which one is more fun, monologuing and utilizing your power of the GM, or letting them mercilessly kill the villain which clearly doesn't seem strong enough because you can just rush him and have to use no strategy at all? This is up to you.

Note: Make stronger villains

KnightOfV
2016-11-26, 12:31 AM
Talking is a free action....

Just wait for the villain's initiative to come up and rant away. When players inevitably try to interrupt you/the Big Bad Dude, inform them your mastermind is ranting while simultaneously casting spells, swinging swords, and kicking the party's butt :smallamused:

Heck, you can have him rant a bit every time his turn comes around to really get 'em mad.

Segev
2016-11-26, 02:03 AM
Or monologue with each action THE PCs TAKE. As well as his own.

hymer
2016-11-26, 02:42 AM
Or monologue with each action THE PCs TAKE. As well as his own.

Legendary Monologues! I love it! :smallbiggrin:

Delusion
2016-11-26, 04:37 AM
By this logic, you can interrupt someone else's attack with your own action without using a readied action.
Combat rounds are abstractions. That means the NPCs get to finish their rounds, too.

What does that have to do with GM arbitrarily not allowing the PCs to interrupt the monologue because the GM is not allowing the initiative to be rolled until the monologue is over? Because that is the thing I was speaking against. The BBEG monologueing during it's own turn in combat is completely fine but even then it could get silly if its much longer than the six or so seconds the round is supposed to be.

PersonMan
2016-11-26, 06:00 AM
I think one reason why people don't want to let the villain monologue is because of how prevalent it is in media. They don't want to be that guy who sits there and listens, like every other protagonist, they'd rather be the one that stands out because they just shoot the guy during his monologue.

Anonymouswizard
2016-11-26, 08:11 AM
I once sat through the GM having one of his villains monologue because it was glorious, completely unexpected for the game (none of us knew there was a Videomancer spell to make people do so), we were technically in his cluthes (although we could have punched him in the face we didn't want him to call security), and because we got the opportunity to rebuff him.

That group also plays with a houserule: combat rounds are six seconds of action, but more of in-game time. This allows everyone, both PCs and NPCs to get away with speaking for about 15-60 seconds each combat round. I do see the value in a monologue button anyone can press, although I've never played in groups where it's a problem (if someone wants to ham it up, we let them ham it up).

Koo Rehtorb
2016-11-26, 08:23 AM
Remember. The best time for a villainous monologue is when the heroes have just fallen into the giant sloth pit trap and are in the process of being clawed to death by a giant sloth.

Cealocanth
2016-11-26, 05:23 PM
Remember. The best time for a villainous monologue is when the heroes have just fallen into the giant sloth pit trap and are in the process of being clawed to death by a giant sloth.

I have got to do this at some point.

D+1
2016-11-26, 06:05 PM
Or monologue with each action THE PCs TAKE. As well as his own.
That's Comic Book Rules. Works with D&D too though. You don't get a single panel with a wall-o-text. You get a sentence or two of "monologue" with each blow, dodge, or attempted action. Usually, with quippy responses from the hero in between.

Forum Explorer
2016-11-26, 06:05 PM
If they interrupt the monologue, just have it during the combat. He says a line or so every time it's his turn. Is he dead before you finish? Then you either have made him too weak, or the monologue too long.

Either that, or save it for when the villain wins. The final battle is usually where the heroes get to monologue instead, the villain made his speeches earlier in the campaign.

I do like the line by line strategy though, because usually the heroes start talking back, and you have a whole conversation as you fight.

dps
2016-11-26, 07:31 PM
I think one reason why people don't want to let the villain monologue is because of how prevalent it is in media. They don't want to be that guy who sits there and listens, like every other protagonist, they'd rather be the one that stands out because they just shoot the guy during his monologue.

Yes, and basically the OP is complaining that his players won't let him use one of the most unrealistic, clichéd tropes in fiction.

Squiddish
2016-11-26, 09:25 PM
Yes, and basically the OP is complaining that his players won't let him use one of the most unrealistic, clichéd tropes in fiction.

Also without a doubt one of THE MOST fun tropes to act out. Especially if the villain and the DM are both normally hammy.

Also, it only becomes unrealistic if the villain is supposed to be pragmatic or smart. If he's hammy, pompous, or otherwise talkative, it's much easier to see it happening.

As for the OP's question, I recommend illusions or having him use a spell to make his voice carry so he can talk to them as they approach his HQ.

Isikyus
2016-11-27, 06:34 AM
You could make the villain a bard, and use Fascinate with Perform (Oratory) to stop anyone interrupting your monologues.

Yuki Akuma
2016-11-27, 07:18 AM
Yes, and basically the OP is complaining that his players won't let him use one of the most unrealistic, clichéd tropes in fiction.

You are playing a game about magical elves fighting dragons, or ridiculous movie action hero special agents foiling international conspiracies with a team of five, or superheroes or whatever.

RPGs aren't realistic is what I'm saying. Stop pretending realism is somehow the goal.

Most RPGs try to emulate other media, and villain monologues are a cliche for a reason.

GloatingSwine
2016-11-27, 07:21 AM
Obviously your villains need to take some lessons at the Andrew Ryan school of villainy.

Have a magical PA system set up in the villain's headquarters that he can monologue through even if he is not in the presence of the PCs. If the players are supposed to be being sneaky then he can be monologuing to his minions.

Anonymouswizard
2016-11-27, 10:02 AM
Yes, and basically the OP is complaining that his players won't let him use one of the most unrealistic, clichéd tropes in fiction.

On the other hand, I let my players have fun with their 'you killed my father/mother/little sister/friend/friend's sister/fiancé/master/student/pet/rival[delete as appropriate], prepare to die' speeches, I expect to be allowed to ham it up on occasion.

As it is, I don't tend to monologue when the PCs can just shoot the guy. The villain either thinks he has the heroes in his clutches, or is in a situation where the PCs can't feasibly attack him without making things a lot worse for themselves. The art of the hammy villain monologue is that any smart villain doesn't explain his plans and motivations when the PCs enter his room armed to the teeth.

Of course, the single most fun thing I've ever done in a game is the comicbook-style running dialogue between the PCs and villain while the fight's going on. Either at the start of every round let everyone say a single sentence, or let everyone say something on their turn in addition to their action (at which point the villain gets to respond). It works best in systems where you can assume a few rounds of fighting between everyone before it ends, so something more like Mutants and Masterminds or Fate than high-op D&D (where the villain should be dead in 1-3 rounds).

I also recommend giving the villain a load of minions in fights where they plan to monologue. It slows the game down a lot, but it should all work together to create a truly memorable fight with all the deliciousness of a nice bitter dark chocoloate (assuming that's the kind of chocolate you like), as the PCs engage in pitched battle over several rounds while telling the villain just which hole they're going to stick their sword up.

Keltest
2016-11-27, 11:07 AM
You are playing a game about magical elves fighting dragons, or ridiculous movie action hero special agents foiling international conspiracies with a team of five, or superheroes or whatever.

RPGs aren't realistic is what I'm saying. Stop pretending realism is somehow the goal.

Most RPGs try to emulate other media, and villain monologues are a cliche for a reason.

it breaks verisimilitude too. I'm of the same school of thought as the OP's players. If the villain is so spectacularly dumb as to stand there doing nothing of any importance towards stopping us, I am going to take advantage of that. If the villain wants to monologue so badly, the onus is on him to find something to prevent us from stabbing him while he indulges himself. An illusion is nice. He could also distract the players with a horde of minions, or a death trap.

VoxRationis
2016-11-27, 11:55 AM
Most RPGs try to emulate other media, and villain monologues are a cliche for a reason.

Poor writing? Writers who can't come up with a better way for the hero to uncover information, or for the villain to stall for time? Poor conversion from manga or text formats that are looser with time?

icefractal
2016-11-27, 04:21 PM
Yes, and basically the OP is complaining that his players won't let him use one of the most unrealistic, clichéd tropes in fiction.Pfft. Ok, you want a realistic, cliche-avoiding BBEG? Well then he reads the evil overlord list and acts accordingly.

Send his weakest minions against the PCs first? No, some strong ones that can handle them easily, much more efficient. Magic gear of prisoners doesn't get stored in the same building as their cell, and in fact those prisoners are probably in cold-sleep (Sepia Snake Sigil) until there's a reason to wake them. Announce his scheme while there's still time for people to stop it? I think not. Things are totally normal and then you wake up one day with the sky turned red and the BBEG is a demigod now, or whatever the plan was. Just enough traps on the phylactery to be risky? How about several dozen to massively overkill any attempted thieves, and it turns out the one in the fancy case is a fake anyway, the real one is hidden elsewhere.

The PCs are frequently benefiting from those tropes themselves, is what I'm saying. Let the DM monologue sometimes, it doesn't hurt anything (as long as the BBEG isn't getting to take actions during the monologue that they couldn't otherwise have done unopposed - that would be a good reason to attack immediately).

Stormwalker
2016-11-27, 06:14 PM
My general assumption in D&D-like games where magic-assisted persuasion is a thing in-universe is that a villain monologue is very likely an attempt to pull a Saruman. Of course, my characters will only act on that assumption if they have the knowledge to come to that conclusion themselves (i.e. awareness that this type of magic exists), but I tend to play high-INT characters with a fair smattering of Knowledge skills and decent ranks in Sense Motive, so... they usually do.

Now, if my character has the magical abilities to be certain the BBEG isn't doing anything of the sort? You bet I'll let him talk... he might tell me something useful. But if I have any reason at all to suspect he may be trying to use magical influence on me or my allies, I'm not going to give him the chance to do it.

Of course, if I'm playing a spellcaster and I do decide to let him talk, I may be taking the opportunity to pile on additional buffs before combat starts (Still Spell, Silent Spell, and/or Conceal Spell can be good for that!). Alternately, if I'm on my paladin I may hear him out, and then respond by offering him one last chance to turn aside from his evil ways before proceeding to the smite. Heroes can monologue, too. :)

Solaris
2016-11-27, 10:49 PM
The NPC has every right to take six seconds of his monologue when it's his turn.

Do you restrict players to six seconds of talking on their turns, too?
If you don't have fun with the game, then what's the point of it? Rolling dice and pretending the RP is deep and totally not actually quite shallow and banal?

Segev
2016-11-28, 03:03 PM
You could make the villain a bard, and use Fascinate with Perform (Oratory) to stop anyone interrupting your monologues.

That's actually kind-of brilliant, if it works. (Making them fail that save might be tricky, though, and if they're immune to mind-affecting...)

RazorChain
2016-11-28, 10:21 PM
Luckily I don't face that problem but then again my villains aren't much the monologue types. I think this is just a matter of playstyle.


First of all the players usually don't lose anything in doing a little verbal sparring with the villain before a fight starts unless they get the drop on him. Infact my players enjoy a little chat with villains before the fight because it's fun! And even during fights the PC's and the bad guys will often taunt each other.

RazorChain
2016-11-28, 10:37 PM
The art of the hammy villain monologue is that any smart villain doesn't explain his plans and motivations when the PCs enter his room armed to the teeth.


Well I once had a mastermind villain monologue his plans while he had the heroes in his clutches. Of course the heores escaped and later found out that the villain had lied about his plans. The heroes failed to stop him, in fact they aided him by trying to stop his "plan".

Braininthejar2
2016-11-29, 01:35 PM
Reminds me of how peeved Nicodemus was when he was shot while monologuing.

Have them monologue during the fight, like in Order of The Stick

Chijinda
2016-11-30, 02:55 AM
One that my GM often used was simple but effective.

Make the guy monologuing have information the PC's need and make sure the PC's know he has it and they need it.

The PC's are far more likely to "allow" your villain to monologue if they think he'll drop a crucial piece of information in the process, whether it be the location of his army's next target, where he's hidden his doomsday machine or even just what he's planning.

If killing the villain mid-sentence is liable to leave the PC's looking like idiots down the line they're far more likely to spare a minute or two to hear the guy out.

The Fury
2016-11-30, 07:17 PM
As has been pointed out earlier, when a villainous monologue is used well there's usually a good justification for it. Either the villain is savvy enough to deliver the monologue indirectly, (like using a PA system, illusions, hall of mirrors, etc.) or the hero is savvy enough to know that the villain has some useful information that they might let slip if allowed to continue talking. Also there's the Hannibal Lector version-- the villain is in a prison cell and can't directly harm the hero, then again the hero can't directly harm them either.

If you do have a villain that has no useful information at all, no backup, standing right in front of the hero, (maybe swirling a glass of brandy,) and starts right into "We're not so different, you and I..." Of course the hero's going to punch this guy's stupid lights out.

Esprit15
2016-11-30, 08:16 PM
If my players interrupt, I simply ask them to roll initiative. Everyone present is expecting a fight, so it's not like they'll be getting a surprise round. The villain already knows what spell he'll cast or who they'll charge at, and is just monologuing to taunt the PCs before the fight begins.

dps
2016-12-01, 02:48 AM
You are playing a game about magical elves fighting dragons, or ridiculous movie action hero special agents foiling international conspiracies with a team of five, or superheroes or whatever.

RPGs aren't realistic is what I'm saying. Stop pretending realism is somehow the goal.

Most RPGs try to emulate other media, and villain monologues are a cliche for a reason.

Yeah, but the PCs behaved realistically--no on would let an opponent monologue like that in a combat/fight situation. If you found yourself inside a genre film (acting that out is kind of what playing RPGs is supposed to be), you'd shoot/arrest/punch out the villain, depending on the genre/setting, not let him ramble on. The OP is upset that his players did the smart thing.

Esprit15
2016-12-01, 03:30 AM
Yeah, but the PCs behaved realistically--no on would let an opponent monologue like that in a combat/fight situation. If you found yourself inside a genre film (acting that out is kind of what playing RPGs is supposed to be), you'd shoot/arrest/punch out the villain, depending on the genre/setting, not let him ramble on. The OP is upset that his players did the smart thing.

Except that this is still a cooperative storytelling experience, not real life. If in actual practice there is no benefit to shooting the villain while he monologues, you stop the problem.

hifidelity2
2016-12-01, 07:46 AM
One that my GM often used was simple but effective.

Make the guy monologuing have information the PC's need and make sure the PC's know he has it and they need it.

The PC's are far more likely to "allow" your villain to monologue if they think he'll drop a crucial piece of information in the process, whether it be the location of his army's next target, where he's hidden his doomsday machine or even just what he's planning.

If killing the villain mid-sentence is liable to leave the PC's looking like idiots down the line they're far more likely to spare a minute or two to hear the guy out.

This is what I normally use - my PC's/players have learnt that if they let (me) monologue then they will find out something useful / next plot hook etc

mephnick
2016-12-01, 08:06 AM
Not to mention that interrupting the monologue does absolutely nothing of value mechanically due to initiative rules. If the boss is monologuing, he's aware of the PC's, which means initiative is rolled normally, it's not like the PCs get any advantage. So...just let the guy spout his speech and then roll initiative.

Lorsa
2016-12-01, 08:11 AM
How many movies are there where the evil genius gives away their entire plan and rationale in a moment of over-confidence? Hundreds. How many comic books are there where the villain stops fighting for a second to say "we're not so different, you and I..."? Countless.
How many times have my PCs allowed a villain to get in a single word before they starting raining arrows and fireballs on him? Zero

Please, just once, let my villain, the star NPC of the show, have a moment in the spotlight. Let him give a crazed rant about power. I'll keep it short, just a few lines! I've tried everything, from having the vampire lord start talking the moment you open the door to his lair, to having the cultist begin speaking from behind an innocent human shield: none of it works!

And yes, I'll weave the same world-building points into a conversation with a mayor later, and I'll have the now-rescued human shield explain the villain's plan. That's not the point! If the only thing a villain does is get ambushed, they're not very interesting.

I swear to God that all my BGs from now on will know hold person. Or maybe I'll just stop writing monologues :smalltongue:

I get a feeling that it is YOU, the GM, that wants to have "evil villain monologues". If it had just been your NPCs that did so, it wouldn't really matter much to you if they were interrupted or not.

The answer, of course, is clear. You need to have players that wants to play with a GM that gets satisfaction from doing villain monologues.

I am not one of those players, so we wouldn't be a good fit. Find your fit and everything will be fine.

Esprit15
2016-12-01, 03:56 PM
I get a feeling that it is YOU, the GM, that wants to have "evil villain monologues". If it had just been your NPCs that did so, it wouldn't really matter much to you if they were interrupted or not.

The answer, of course, is clear. You need to have players that wants to play with a GM that gets satisfaction from doing villain monologues.

I am not one of those players, so we wouldn't be a good fit. Find your fit and everything will be fine.

Out of curiosity, why? What's the problem in a story with a villain gloating about their plan?

arclance
2016-12-01, 04:06 PM
The BBEG once interrupted my characters monologue with a boss fight.
I was distracting him while the NPCs sabotaged his base.
We were likely supposed to distract him by fighting him but my character tried engaging him in a mildly confusing conversation instead.

Keltest
2016-12-01, 04:58 PM
Out of curiosity, why? What's the problem in a story with a villain gloating about their plan?

Well, if theyre gloating in such a fashion that theyre revealing important information to the PCs, then the problem is they foolishly just revealed important information to the PCs. If they aren't revealing anything, then youre making the PCs sit there being gloated at instead of playing the game, which is obnoxious from a roleplaying standpoint and boring from a game standpoint.

I don't necessarily expect major villains to have memorized the Evil Overlord List, but if theyre interacting with the PCs at all, it is either out of coincidence, in which case they don't care, or because the PCs have become a significant threat to their agenda, and they will treat them as such until they are eliminated.

Psikerlord
2016-12-01, 09:02 PM
The NPC has every right to take six seconds of his monologue when it's his turn.

Funnily enough I think this is an excellent approach - if the PCs just want to get their fight on, have the NPC talk to them during them the fight - really that can happen during anyone's turn, it's just talking

Stryyke
2016-12-01, 09:25 PM
My personal preference is that all "final fights" aren't the group against 1 guy. The final boss probably has some minions close to him that the party hasn't dealt with, and maybe a second in command. You can have the Head Honcho do his monologue while the party is cleaning up the fodder. If you start with The Big Guy, his second, and half a dozen fodder creatures; it should be 3-4 rounds before they work their way through the minions, and another 3-4 rounds where the second in command protects his master. That's enough for a good 30-40 second monologue. Increase the numbers if you want to keep them occupied longer. 2 minutes might be too long using this method, but you can get a good minute long monologue.

Skorj
2016-12-02, 09:37 PM
You can have endless fun with the few seconds of dialog per round approach!


"Ha ha foolish mortals, you may defeat me but it won't matter because ..."

OK, your action.

"... you'll never discover where I've hidden the ..."

OK, back to you.

"... artifact that only I know how to stop before it ..."

Your action?

And so on. Villainy should be enjoyable!

Lorsa
2016-12-05, 02:00 AM
Out of curiosity, why? What's the problem in a story with a villain gloating about their plan?

In a roleplaying game? No big problem really. Nor should it be a problem if I decide that my character doesn't want to listen and attack on sight. If this simple action upsets the GM, then we're not really a good fit.

Now, as to why I would attack a villain that is gloating about their plan? Well, the reasons are simple:

Since it is incredibly stupid to gloat about your plan, I will either assume the villain is lying OR trying to stall me for some reason. In both cases I am better off not listening and attacking quickly. The other option of course is that the villain IS stupid, in which case I probably know their plan already.

If it's about gloating in general and not giving off their plan, well, I see no reason why I should listen to that?

GloatingSwine
2016-12-05, 10:13 AM
Well, if theyre gloating in such a fashion that theyre revealing important information to the PCs, then the problem is they foolishly just revealed important information to the PCs. If they aren't revealing anything, then youre making the PCs sit there being gloated at instead of playing the game, which is obnoxious from a roleplaying standpoint and boring from a game standpoint.


You don't get to be an evil overlord without having an ego the size of a small moon. Villains monologue because they like hearing themselves talk, and because they're so obviously better than the heroes that they can't possibly stop their masterplan anyway.

Just remember to pull the lever for the trap door on the crocodile pit first.