Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default How to handle BBEG

    Alright, I've been throwing together a campaign for some friends, and I have an idea I want to use of a recurring BBEG. Basically, the party's hunting for a serial killer, and in the final confrontation the BBEG will do the whole big reveal thing (and not just to show off, there's a serious motive for them to reveal everything here), and then leave while distracting them with minions. Of course, they'll go on to become a central feature of the campaign, with the PCs always a few steps behind until the right moment.

    Here's the question - how powerful should I make the BBEG to start with? The party will be lvl 3 for the initial meeting, and I was thinking of making the BBEG a lvl 6 character, but even though they won't be fighting and I don't plan any opposed rolling at all (so in theory I don't even need stats for it yet), it still doesn't really feel fair. Should I make it lower level and trust in my optimization skills, and if so, how low? Am I straying into the territory of the DMNPC by making the character this powerful? Or is it merely a natural and accepted aspect of the game world that there will be forces the PCs can't (yet) confront directly?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    DC
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    The giant has some great tips on villains under the gaming section on the side tab. You should definitely check those out. I would say make him 5th level but have him scale with the PC's.
    To know that just one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded.

    Wonderful Faithatar by smuchmuch

    My meager homebrew


    Quote Originally Posted by averagejoe View Post
    Chivalry (n): A willingness to find excuses to beat people up.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Prometheus's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    The biggest question in my mind is how you are going to end the conflict without one or the other side of the party ending up dead. If you want the BBEG to win and the party to be spared at the last moment, go high If you want the BBEG to lose but escape, go low.

    There was a thread about horror campaigns recently that suggested letting the players play NPCs that are subsequently slaughtered by the BBEG. If any of them survive, the PCs will get the chance to meet them later. Whether or not the players helps those NPCs survive, they will have instilled in them a deep sense of opposition for the BBEG. It's what I might suggest.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by SilentNight View Post
    The giant has some great tips on villains under the gaming section on the side tab. You should definitely check those out. I would say make him 5th level but have him scale with the PC's.
    I've been considering it. However, I've had times before where a very scary BBEG has been completely destroyed by clever PCs and horrible dice mojo, and I don't want to lose my villain before the campaign really gets rolling. I don't want to lose my PCs either, but unless things go completely fubar, there's plenty of ways for them to get out of this alright.

    As to scaling with the PCs, well, that's a given. In this case, I plan to have the BBEG scale geometrically rather than linearly, and if everything goes well they'll eventually become a deity when the players are lvl10 or so, and lose deity status by the actions of the players. By the time the players are lvl15, the BBEG will be a vestige, and part of the plot will be discovering that the Monster Of The Week is a Binder (or other class with the right feat) who'd made a "bad pack" with it. After the Binder is killed and the world is saved, the vestige will depart for the Far Realm.



    So yeah, point is the PCs will get plenty of chances to foil it, but never at any time do I expect them to come into a direct fight, or have a prayer of winning if they did. That's why I'm leaning towards starting at lvl 6 instead of 5, to get that trend started early without completely dwarfing them. I think it'll provide for good drama and intense struggles along the way if I do it right... I guess what I'm asking though is whether you think it can still be satisfying for the players, to thwart rather than beat the villain. Any thoughts?

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    More details please. A level 5-6 what exactly? A fighter at that level range is significantly different from a wizard or a cleric. Do they have minions with them?

    You could try simulating the battle. Guess at what characters might do and see how the combat goes. If they have to come through some traps/opponents first, remove a few spells and hit points first.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by holywhippet View Post
    More details please. A level 5-6 what exactly? A fighter at that level range is significantly different from a wizard or a cleric. Do they have minions with them?

    You could try simulating the battle. Guess at what characters might do and see how the combat goes. If they have to come through some traps/opponents first, remove a few spells and hit points first.
    I don't want to go into details on the off-chance one of my players checks here, but suffice it to say that it's a well-optimized member of a really solid class. However, as I said, I'm not going to engage them directly. The villain has no desire to kill them at this point, and a few reasons to let them live. Ideally, I want them to fear the villain enough to let sleeping dogs lie... which is 90% how I present things, I know, but it's always nice having actual stats if needed. Even if provoked, the BBEG is unlikely to fight them. If they DO fight, I want the BBEG to have the upper hand, but not so much that the PCs feel like it's completely ridiculous.
    Last edited by sonofzeal; 2008-03-12 at 11:53 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    This screams of darts and poisons, and maybe a warehouse complex. Maybe I'm wrong, but this sounds like the kind of BBEG who is a sadistic bastard that enjoys playing with his victims, eroding their resistance and morale, before finishing them off in a cold and bloody way. This is the kind of BBEG who will have his lair littered with bodies hanging in spots where the PC's will find them and be scared, who will constantly taunt them seemingly from nowhere, and who will chip away at them slooooooowly, until they are vanquished at his feet.

    Amirite?

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by Azerian Kelimon View Post
    This screams of darts and poisons, and maybe a warehouse complex. Maybe I'm wrong, but this sounds like the kind of BBEG who is a sadistic bastard that enjoys playing with his victims, eroding their resistance and morale, before finishing them off in a cold and bloody way. This is the kind of BBEG who will have his lair littered with bodies hanging in spots where the PC's will find them and be scared, who will constantly taunt them seemingly from nowhere, and who will chip away at them slooooooowly, until they are vanquished at his feet.

    Amirite?
    Getting there. I see them as more sociopathic than out-and-out sadistic, although neither is far off. In one thing I used them for previously, they knew they were being hunted by an exalted druid with the Saint template, so they sacked a nearby village and scattered the still-squirming bodies all over their lair, because they knew that any careless move on the Saint's part could cause one of those innocents to die and rob him of a good chunk of his power.

    ....so yeah, vicious bastard.

  9. - Top - End - #9

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Then, I insist on poison and darts. This BBEG has to make the players go crazy, not cause significant damage. What you must do is lead them to dead ends, to the point the go crazy with frustration.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Could you give a more elaborate example? If it works in the setting, I'll definitely consider it.

  11. - Top - End - #11

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    A cavern complex. Or a set of warehouses. In it, the serial killer has constucted a system of underground passages, or has crafted a system to use pulleys to rapidly traverse the place. This way, he moves, silent as a shadow, through his domains.

    Then, the PC's burst in. Quickly, they start scouting the place. They advnace forward, wary of traps...

    And suddenly, a crossbow bolt zings by, maybe piercing the skin of one of the PC's. A trap, a trap that they couldn't possibly have seen coming.

    And then...

    The killer starts speaking. An odd, macabre voice. A voice as creepy as the bastard child of cold professionalism, mad laughter, and glee. He mocks the PC's, for having reached his lair yet not being able to see where he is. He taunts them, challenging them to press forward.


    And they do, poor valiant champions they are. They take on a passageway. It seems to go on forever, a neverending semilit void. And then, they reach a bigger room. There's a door at the other end. As they cross the center of the room, however, something brusquely falls, dangling from a rope.


    It's the corpse of one of the victims, horribly mutilated and with a face that shows absolute, uncontrollable terror.

    In spite of this, the heroes press on. The killer keeps taunting them, based on their discovery, on how they're powerless to stop his murders. And he says he finds this game boring. Time to up the ante...

    And a dart impacts one of the PC's. As the poor sod takes the dart off and shrugs, he begins to feel sick. The world turns around him, bugs seem to be crawling under his skin, and he feels a great urge to vomit.

    He has been poisoned.

    After gulping down a dose of antidote, they proceed. But they have reached a dead end. It is time to try another passageway.

    And so, the game of cat and mouse continues, for a while. The killer gloats on how the PC's are worthless sacks of manure, on how he slowly tortures his victims to the point of dementia, of their frozen faces of horror on which a spark of hope dances, having found freedom in death's sweet embrace, which at lasts frees them from the killer's paws...

    And as the PC's approach the final room, the last dead end, he seems to tire of the game. With a chilly monotone, he announces he has had his fun. Now, it is time to move on. But he will return...yes...he will return. And fear will strike in the everyone's hearts, as a demon in humanoid form recommences his dark work again.


    And that's the gist of it. So, what do you think about it?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by Azerian Kelimon View Post
    {snip}

    And that's the gist of it. So, what do you think about it?
    Awesome! I may have to adjust it slightly, but I could definitely do something of the kind, probably with the Phantom Of The Opera element played up for fun.

    Hmm.... I'd need to make it more interactive though. The place could be a series of challenges, each one not particularly deadly or dangerous, but tailored to their psychology. Give the Rogue with the 10 foot pole a button, and have the spikes shoot out 10 feet away from it when pressed. Have magical traps which trigger if you cast Dispel Magic on them. Have an illusion monster at the end of the hall, with the trap trigger being a pressure plate behind them for when the archer's volley passes right through.

    And all the while, the taunting of the BBEG and the trail of victims with ever more horrific injuries...



    The payoff at the end might be the king's daughter, still alive and unhurt (if mentally traumatized) in the final chamber, with a note congratulating the heroes on making it so far, and saying they deserve their reward for her rescue, and describing in lurid detail how the BBEG plans to kill each of them next time they meet.
    Last edited by sonofzeal; 2008-03-13 at 01:31 AM.

  13. - Top - End - #13

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Yes. Something like that. Or a physical foe the fighter can't wound, to make him feel useless and helpless. Or something utterly immune to magic, to shock your spellcasters.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by Azerian Kelimon View Post
    Yes. Something like that. Or a physical foe the fighter can't wound, to make him feel useless and helpless. Or something utterly immune to magic, to shock your spellcasters.
    No.... the villain might be sadistic, but I'm not, or at least not in that way. I want the PCs to feel terrified, but I also want them to feel proud of their characters too, if possible. I want to mess with their minds, out-guess them at every turn, but simply throwing out things they're not equipped to deal with isn't fun on either side. No, it's all about giving them a totally valid choice, and getting them, out of their own free wills, to make the wrong one. That to me is the epitome of evil DMing.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    I wouldn't have them face the actual BBEG at any early part of the game.

    The BBEG sets up his lair etc. At the end he is found seated behind a chair, half reclined back and a goblet of wine in his hand. He speaks to them slowly to give them the big reveal. Ask for people to roll initiative, roll a die yourself, and let them take their actions in order.

    In actuality, it is a policeman/marshal/guardsmen etc paralyzed by poison or spell, a goblet nailed into his hand with the nail bent half back, and the man having been disguised to look like the BBEG. A magic mouth placed on his person triggers to speak these words when the PCs enter the room. If the message goes over 25 words then multiple magic mouths set to the trigger off "when they enter the room and x time has past(to let the previous magic mouth finish speaking) begin speaking". I think you can stack magic mouth effects like this but I am not entirely sure.

    If the PCs kill him then they'll be in trouble with the law, if they figure it out then they can gain a little bit of information from the cop on the BBEG's methods or known associates that he learned from being captured that the party can use to their advantage later in the campaign.
    Last edited by illyrus; 2008-03-13 at 02:45 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Thanks for all the ideas guys, but I'm still looking for an answer to the initial question.


    Is it okay for the BBEG to significantly overshadow the PCs as a group in straight power?

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    drengnikrafe's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Within my own Insanity
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    Thanks for all the ideas guys, but I'm still looking for an answer to the initial question.


    Is it okay for the BBEG to significantly overshadow the PCs as a group in straight power?
    It's perfectly fine the way I see it, with 2 minor things to worry about.

    First, in order to have the BBEG be much more powerful then the PCs, but have them right on his tail, he'll be fighting about what they fight, but will barely level from it. So, you basically must know what the PCs levels will be when the final confrontation comes without making it seem forced or contrived when that time does come.

    Second, he's a serial murderer, right? Why, if he's so much more powerful then the PCs, would he not just kill them right then and there? It's absolutely vital that you have a very solid reason for why this guy won't kill the PCs at the first chance he gets, and bad circumstances that he happens upon doesn't work for more then a few encounters before it seems unrealistic, and the Suspension of Reality starts to fade.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    sonofzeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by drengnikrafe View Post
    It's perfectly fine the way I see it, with 2 minor things to worry about.

    First, in order to have the BBEG be much more powerful then the PCs, but have them right on his tail, he'll be fighting about what they fight, but will barely level from it. So, you basically must know what the PCs levels will be when the final confrontation comes without making it seem forced or contrived when that time does come.

    Second, he's a serial murderer, right? Why, if he's so much more powerful then the PCs, would he not just kill them right then and there? It's absolutely vital that you have a very solid reason for why this guy won't kill the PCs at the first chance he gets, and bad circumstances that he happens upon doesn't work for more then a few encounters before it seems unrealistic, and the Suspension of Reality starts to fade.
    Good points all around. I really want to mention the gimmick here, but I really shouldn't (again, in case any of my players see this). I'll say this much though - the villain likes the PCs, and wants them to become as powerful as possible. If they die now, the BBEG gains little... but the BBEG will have far more to gain if the PCs collect all sorts of power first, before dying in horribly painful ways. That, more or less, is the motivation - due to the nature of the plan, the BBEG has more to gain by having a nemesis than by offing a few random adventurers early on.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    drengnikrafe's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Within my own Insanity
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How to handle BBEG

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    Good points all around. I really want to mention the gimmick here, but I really shouldn't (again, in case any of my players see this). I'll say this much though - the villain likes the PCs, and wants them to become as powerful as possible. If they die now, the BBEG gains little... but the BBEG will have far more to gain if the PCs collect all sorts of power first, before dying in horribly painful ways. That, more or less, is the motivation - due to the nature of the plan, the BBEG has more to gain by having a nemesis than by offing a few random adventurers early on.
    That's a fantastic gimmick. I must say, that really does cover all of your bases (so long as he has a good intelligence score). It certainly beats mine (which I'm in the same boat as you for not telling it here), which is feeling more and more cliche by the moment.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •