The Quintessential Villain

Villains play the most crucial role in every tale. The villain is even more essential than a hero. A hero is only as good as the villain is evil. Every phenomenal hero requires an equally phenomenal villain. Without a threatening villain, any hero is less impressive.

A compelling villain needs to be quite memorable, rather disturbing, and very nasty. Commonly, the villain exemplifies characteristics or viewpoints that are diametrically opposed to those of the hero, creating a contrast distinguishing heroic traits from villainous ones. Great villains always possess solid motivation, a reason for their actions. Villains don't pursue some specific goal simply for the sake of being evil.

In fact, the most interesting villains believe themselves to be the true hero of their own story. In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil. Villains may be driven by greed, neuroses, or the conviction that his cause is just. Nevertheless, villains are driven by something not unlike those things that drive a hero.

Fiction mirrors life. More accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus reality, to bring life into a cleaner and sharper understanding. In reality, there are no villains madly cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate an evil scheme. There are only people with problems, struggling to find solutions.

In an attempt to add realism, many authors employ "sympathetic" villains. Villains who wish to make the world a better place, but go to antagonistic lengths to do so. Villains who exercise a code of honor when combating enemies, even if it is to achieve antagonistic goals. Villains who are pushed into antagonistic lifestyles or actions by society's mistreatment, but go to absurd lengths in seeking the justice they desire. Villains who are manipulated by malevolent forces.

Often, easily recognizable villains are characterized by an unusual physical appearance, abnormality, deformity, mannerism, or fashion sense. Commonly, an outstanding villain will possess some obscure interest, hobby, or odd obsession. Occasionally, a top notch villain will keep some sort of exotic pet.


THE QUINTESSENTIAL MASTER VILLAIN TYPES

The Advance Agent
The Agent Provocateur
The Avenger
The Conqueror
The Corrupter
The Cursed
The Delusional
The Destroyer
The Friend with a Dark Secret
The Lovable Rogue
The Mad Scientist
The Menacing Advisor
The Obsequious Advisor
The Organizer
The Ravager
The Sociopath
The Trickster
The Zealot

The Advance Agent
This villain type desires to covertly set the stage, open the door, and prepare the way as part of a larger scheme to suddenly, perhaps violently, seize power or control. He is the vanguard of some sort of invasion. Typically, he's a double agent performing reconnaissance and gathering information. Alternately, he's attempting to open a portal to a dimension of trapped demons or an evil god.

Generally, he works in the field, but secretly manipulates people and events behind the scene. As a master villain, he does not serve a greater master and believes he can control whatever evil forces he may unleash. Even as a servant of some greater evil force that he desires to summon, his efforts are typically unsuccessful or foiled by the hero. Therefore, he functions as the master villain for the purpose of a plot. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, and mystery adventures.

The Agent Provocateur
This villain type is a clever spy who infiltrates an organization. He desires to covertly bring about its destruction by taking actions which will bring the organization into direct opposition of other groups or forces, all while pretending to be a good member of the organization. This typically leads to armed conflict, chaos, and the downfall of that organization.

Generally, he works in the field, but secretly manipulates people and events behind the scene. His true identity is usually a closely guarded secret. Hero should encounter the villain's cover identity, but should not suspect he's responsible for all the trouble, until the hero adds up clues. He utilizes intelligence and subterfuge more than combat ability. 

As a master villain, he does not serve a greater master. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Avenger
This villain type desires revenge, vengeance, or justice and strives to avenge some perceived wrong. He lashes out at the world as punishment for whatever has happened to him or out of envy for what others possess and which he lacks. He may even be justified in doing so. He may have suffered a genuine wrong, but resorts to excessive means in pursuit of the justice he desires. This makes him a little more sympathetic than villains who are generally perceived as pure evil.

Generally, he works behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. He uses his resources, henchmen, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and bribed officials to the draw hero and his allies into a snare. Typically, he'll desire to personally duel with hero or place the hero in a deathtrap and personally witness their destruction. 

As a master villain, he does not serve a greater master. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Conqueror
This villain type desires power and control. He revels in dominance, and forcing his will upon others. He's a tyrant, an enemy of all peace-loving independent people. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and armies in an attempt to seize or maintain control. He'll not hesitate to launch a full-scale invasion enslaving or killing all those who oppose him.

Generally, he works in the field to openly manipulate people and events. Typically, the hero must battle through or elude hordes of henchmen, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and soldiers in order to reach him. Alternatively, hero might lead his own army against the villain's forces and out maneuver them in military fashion. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, and revenge adventures.

The Corruptor
This villain type desires to corrupt all that is good, righteous, and wholesome. He revels in degradation, sin, suffering, and chaos. On a large scale, he attempts to change an entire city, nation, or world into a jaded, debased pit of debauchery, hatred, violence, and death. On a small scale, he attempts to corrupt one particular person or a few people, particularly the hero and his allies. The tempter, seductress, femme fatale, siren, succubus are examples of this type.

Generally, he works behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. Often, he's an evil god or demon. If so, the hero will probably not be striving to kill the villain, which might be impossible, but to find his weakness in order to thwart his current scheme. 

If he's a human or demi-human, he should wield powerful influence, be a master of temptation, use peoples desires against them, command hordes of minions, and maybe some peculiar skill or item that aids in corrupting the righteous. This villain type functions best for action, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Cursed
This villain type desires to be rid of the curse or longs for death but is more or less immortal. He is controlled or corrupted by some manner of evil. He wreaks havoc because the curse drives him to evil. Perhaps, he's wracked with massive guilt. He might even confess as much, when he's not under the curse's influence, leaving the hero with a dilemma of what to do with the unfortunate creature. Generally, he works behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events.

Typically, the curse can only be undone in some specific manner or with a specific item. The hero must discover this secret weakness in order to kill or free the villain. Frequently, the curse can only be undone in one specific location, perhaps on holy ground or in a place that holds significant meaning to his back story and the cause of the curse itself. Perhaps, the curse has physically trapped him and prevents him from leaving a certain place. 

As a result, he mobilizes henchmen, mercenaries, thugs, minions, monsters, creatures, and vermin in an attempt to lure the hero to that particular place. He'll insult the hero, ruin the hero, abduct or murder the hero's loved ones. He'll do whatever is required to ensure the hero possesses sufficient cause to seek him out. This villain type functions best for action, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Delusional
This villain type desires to act on his erroneous perception of reality. He suffers from an acute and persistent psychological disturbance. He's nuts and draw others into the insanity that pervades his life. Often, he experiences the world as game. A game in which he is the only one who knows the rules.

Generally, he works in the field to openly influence people and events. Perhaps, he falsely believes he possesses heightened importance, status, skill, exalted destiny, or is the "chosen" one. Perhaps, he falsely believes someone or something is out to harm, persecute, torture, or kill him. This could be physical harm, emotional harm, or a challenge to his deeply held beliefs. Perhaps, he falsely believes the world 's end is at hand.

Whatever his delusion, it drives him to enlist aid from the hero. It's not immediately apparent to the hero that he's a "nutter", mad as a hatter, and slightly loony. Although, he does seem rather peculiar.

However, his unbalanced mental state will certainly become obvious when disaster is about to strike and the hero must save this fruitloop from his own folly or discover there is no giant baby-snatching chipmunk in the nearby forest. Alternately, he targets the hero for persecution in response to his having disrupted the villain's machinations. This villain type functions best for action, comedy, mystery, and revenge adventures.

The Destroyer
This villain type desires destruction and is driven by rage. He revels in suffering, hatred, violence, death, and chaos. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and armies in an attempt to destroy everything in sight.

On a large scale, he attempts to annihilate an entire city, nation, or world. On a small scale, he attempts to decimate one particular person or a few people, particularly the hero and his allies. He may work in the field openly or behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. 

Regardless of whether he's an evil god, demon, human, demi-human, or rampaging beast, the hero must find the villain's weakness in order to thwart his current scheme. This villain type functions best for action, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Friend with a Dark Secret
This villain type was a childhood friend of the hero. Early in the adventure, he encounters and pals around with the hero. He does strange and mysterious things. Perhaps, he sneaks off to send messages, behaves strangely around certain characters, but always provides a plausible explanation for such odd behavior, if questioned.

At some point, however, the hero uncovers his friend's dark secret. He's actually the master villain. At some point in the past, he succumbed to the dark side and is genuinely evil now.

He can not be converted to the hero's cause. Ultimately, this is fatal to their friendship. Although, he'll certainly attempt everything in his power to tempt, seduce, and turn the hero. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Lovable Rogue
This villain type desires amusement. He revels in song, wine, women, gambling, and adventure. He isn't really evil. He's just a little chaotic and mischievous. Generally, he works in the field to openly influence people and events. Cheerful bandits who rob from the rich and give to the poor, gentleman thieves, cat burglars, swashbuckling-rope-swinging pirate kings, sophisticated duelists, scoundrel smugglers, charismatic conmen, and adventurous treasure hunters are examples of this type.

Typically, he'll not be directly responsible for whatever manner of devilry the hero encounters. However, he may be in competition with the hero for some treasure. Often, the hero will need to team up with the rogue and his companions to succeed at their task. Almost certainly, he'll attempt to abscond with the treasure and at the most inopportune times.

Due to his disreputable nature, he may be pursued by the authorities, a rival treasure hunter, a disgruntled or former business partner who he probably double-crossed, or an angry victim who he likely swindled. This could cause some interesting complications for the hero. As a master villain, he does not serve a greater master. This villain type functions best for action, comedy, espionage, mystery, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Mad Scientist 
This villain type desires to advance knowledge and understanding acquired though experimentation. He revels in research, experimental results, and scientific exploration. He's obsessed with bringing something innovative and new into the universe and will let nothing get in his way. He may work in the field openly or behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, creatures, and vermin in an attempt to protect or continue his precious work.

Typically, he's the evil genius, highly intelligent, methodical, patient, strategic, logical yet irrational, emotional yet unsympathetic, rather eccentric, and slightly insane. He may possess benevolent intentions. However, if his actions are dangerous, questionable, irresponsible, or unethical, he will most likely become an accidental villain.

Frequently, as an evil genius or the big bad, he'll be the puppet master or the manipulative bastard, maybe even to the point of maleficence. As a master villain, he does not serve a greater master. This villain type functions best for action, comedy, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Menacing Advisor
This villain type desires power. He revels in dominance, power, control, and forcing his will upon others through covert manipulation. He's intelligent, logical, rational, methodical, patient, strategic, unemotional, unsympathetic, insidious, and menacing. He's the ultimate puppet master, always pulling strings behind the scene.

Independently, he might or might not wield power directly. Regardless, he uses his position and cunning to unduly influence another who does wield great power. Typically, that powerful person is a monarch, government official, or the leader of some powerful organization and is being used as an unwitting pawn. This villain is an effective and valuable advisor to that powerful unwitting pawn.

Generally, he places little value on the lives of others. He’s not adverse to killing and usually possesses competent or proficient combat skill. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and armies to do his bidding.

He'll not be converted to the hero's way of thinking. He enjoys what he does, perhaps a little too much. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Obsequious Advisor
This villain type desires power. He revels in dominance, power, control, and forcing his will upon others through covert manipulation. He's cunning, methodical, strategic, logical yet irrational, emotional yet unsympathetic, impatient, slightly insane, and menacing. He's an oily, deceitful, sleazy, untrustworthy, self-serving, sadomasochistic, cowardly sycophant.

Independently, he might or might not wield power directly. However, he uses his position to unduly influence another who does wield great power. Typically, that powerful person is a monarch, government official, or the leader of some powerful organization and is being used as an unwitting pawn. This villain is an effective and valuable advisor to that powerful unwitting pawn.

Generally, he places little value on the lives of others. Typically, he's an incompetent combatant. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and armies to do his bidding.

He can not be converted to any heroic cause. However, without some muscled minion to protect him, he'll certainly attempt to flee during the adventure's climax and escape to safety. This henchman type functions best for action, comedy, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance, adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Organizer
This villain type desires wealth, and power, but mostly control. He's highly intelligent, logical, rational, methodical, patient, strategic, unemotional, and unsympathetic. He's the diabolic mastermind, the chess master, the man with a plan and another plan it the first one fails. Every step of the way, the he has a contingency plan.

Typically, he's the head of a criminal syndicate. He revels in individual freedom, personal liberty, decadence, illicit activity, vice, gambling, prostitution, recreational drugs. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and criminals in an attempt to protect or expand his criminal empire. He may work in the field openly or behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. 

He can only be reasoned with when it's going to profit him more to cooperate rather than kill the hero. He prefers to use intelligence and subterfuge, but will not hesitate to dispatch his underlings, if the use of force is strategically wise. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Ravager
This villain type desires power and pillage. He revels in dominance, plunder, and forcing his will upon the weak. He tends to be savagely brutal. Usually, he works in the field to openly manipulate people and events. He mobilizes raiders, warriors, clansmen, bandits, buccaneers, thugs, and minions in an attempt to seize whatever he desires. Typically, he's the leader of a clan, barbarian horde, gang of bandit raiders, band of pilfering pirates. He's the enemy of the weak and defenseless.

Generally, he maintains dominion over a relatively limited territory and any who may enter it. However, he'll not hesitate to launch a full-scale raid, terrorizing surrounding regions, raping, pillaging, plundering, enslaving, or killing all those in his path. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Sociopath
This villain type desires self control and mental tranquility. He is possessed by a psychological disturbance manifesting itself in extreme antisocial urges, desires, and behavior. He's intelligent, cunning, and dangerous. He utilizes his resources and skills in an attempt to satisfy his uncontrollable urges and quiet the voice of his "dark passenger" or inner demon.

He's the enemy of all who offend him or meet a certain criteria. He'll carefully and patiently develop a strategy to do what he does best to the target of his obsession. He may work in the field openly or behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Trickster
This villain type desires amusement and entertainment. He revels in humor, breaking rules, mischief, and chaos. He's not so much an evil villain as an adversary or antagonist who causes a little chaos. He disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. He violates principles of social order, playfully disrupting normal life and then re-establishing it on a new basis.

He's very humorous and amusing. This stems from the fact he so often does things which are clearly wrong or acts in obviously stupid or foolish ways. Commonly, he entertains others as a clown or jester. He openly questions and mocks authority. He may be cunning or foolish or both.

He's a clever and mischievous creature who attempts to survive dangers and challenges by using trickery and deceit. He's a crafty creature who utilizes cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, teach lessons, dispense justice, or simply cause mischief. Generally, he works in the field to openly manipulate people and events. Interestingly, he doesn’t really employ henchmen or minions. His antics are directly responsible for whatever manner of devilry the hero encounters, yet he remains untouched.

Alternately, he could be an actual god of random chance, mischief, or silliness, who intrudes on the hero's lives to cause chaos and amuse himself. In spite of his flaws, the trickster often represents the introduction of good things to society. Wittingly or unwittingly, he might bring to the culture important knowledge, food, medicine, customs, clothing, and other good things, often in spite of his intentions.

Additionally, the trickster could actually be pure random chance. The hero encounters a series of unrelated or accidental encounters which cause conflict. No god, man, or creature is actually involved. Although initially, it may seem as though some agent is orchestrating these genuinely random events. This villain is best used for action, comedy, mystery, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Zealot
This villain type desires power and transformation. He revels in dominance, power, control, and forcing his view of righteousness, values, ethics, or morality upon the world.  He possesses a warped sense of honor, morality, or ethics. He's self-righteous and perceives himself to be the paragon of virtue. He judges everyone by his own personal and twisted code of conduct. In his quest for change, his attempts to force others to accept his ideology, he believes the ends justify the means.

He may work in the field openly or behind the scene and from the shadows to secretly manipulate people and events. Often, he's the charismatic cult leader, popular priest, tribal chieftain, political activist, social justice crusader, or government official. He mobilizes henchmen, assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, and followers in an attempt to purge the world of something he perceives as pure evil. He is an ideologue determined to indoctrinate, convert, or kill all those who embrace an alternate viewpoint, ideology, philosophy, or religion.

Typically, the hero must battle through or elude hordes of henchmen, assassins, thugs, minions, and followers in order to reach the villain. Alternatively, the hero might lead his own followers against the villain's forces and out maneuver them in military fashion. This villain type functions best for action, espionage, horror, and mystery adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

Simple Versus Complex
These basic master villain types are rather simple and predictable. However, each provides a solid foundation for characterization. Typically, complex and interesting villains frequently combine aspects and elements of multiple character types.


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