BBEG: Big Bad Evil Guy Creation
Making a compelling and memorable villain can be difficult, especially when DMing for younger players. Let’s take a few minutes to build a BBEG so you can see how it works.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide provides some quick NPC creation tables for you to get started. Using those charts I generated this basic NPC:
- Talent/Trait 1: Draws beautifully
- Talent/Trait 1: Makes constant jokes or puns
- Talent/Trait 3: Hot tempered
- Ideal 1: Retribution
- Ideal 2: Freedom
- Bond: Out for revenge
- Flaw: Arrogance
This is a good start, but we need a lot more to make a really good BBEG.
Bad Guys are the Heroes of Their Own Story
Your Big Bad Evil Guy sees him or herself as the real or secret hero in the story. Given the traits above, lets flesh out this BBEG. He is an artistic, free spirit with anger management issues. Something happened in the past that has set him on the path of revenge. He has a driving need for retribution. Perhaps his arrogance led him to believe that it is not revenge and retribution he seeks is really justice.
If the BBEG sees himself as seeking justice, we need to fill in his backstory with some event that would warrant all of the effort he is going to put into exacting his revenge. Here are a few easy tropes to consider:
- His home burned down and he lost a lifetime of precious artwork. He blames the player characters and the local governor for not helping put out the fire and save his home.
- The party’s bard upstaged him in the local tavern on the night he was hoping to impress a young lady.
- He blames the party’s healer for not being there to help someone he loved when they got very sick.
- His family used to own the keep that the fighter just received as a reward from the local barron; ruining his plans to restore his family’s place in the community.
- The players angered a dragon, which burned BBEG’s farm to the ground before the players were able to hunt it down and kill it.
- The BBEG believes adventurers hoard their magic and money, only use it to enrich themselves. He sees them as evil, no matter what good deeds they do.
A Path to Redemption
Since your Big Bad Evil Guy sees themselves as the hero, they are able to develop and travel their own heroic journey. Once you have figured out what motivates the BBEG, figure out what will redeem them.
For this BBEG, I am going to say he believes all adventurers hoard their magic and money, only using it to enrich themselves. He sees them as evil, no matter what good deeds they do. The BBEG seeks power only as a means to track down and rid the world of this great evil. He will seek money, magic and followers to help him in this quest. His arrogance keeps him from seeing that he has become the exact thing that he hates so much.
The player characters can help redeem the BBEG in any number of ways. Perhaps a stirring speech delivered in the middle of the aftermath of a great battle opens his eyes to the damage and pain he is responsible for creating. Perhaps a character selflessly sacrifices themselves to protect an innocent bystander that would have been harmed by the BBEG during the final battle.
Put a Face and Voice on You BBEG
One thing I really love doing is role-playing my NPC’s. I have always loved imitating characters from TV and movies. I use all of that experience when it comes time for our players to interact with NPCs. One of my favorite ways to get into character is to think of a character from TV or film. Ask yourself, what actor or actress would you have play your BBEG? What characters have they played that you could imitate?
Given the personality of this BBEG, I might use the Riddler, Joker, or Loki. They could be lighthearted and happy in their pursuit of the players and the achievement of their goals. They definitely fit the personality profile we have created.
To wrap up this BBEG, head over to Pinterest and pick out a piece of art that you can show your players once they come face-to-face with their arch nemesis.