On Monday we talked about being a Hero. Today I want to talk about being a Villain. Villain PCs and groups of Villain PCs are among the most common requests I see in RPG communities. If a company makes a Star Wars game, people want rules for playing Imperial PCs. Make a game of Orcs trying to kill all humanity, and people will want rules for playing those orcs. In the RPG community sometimes it feels like there are as many people wanting to play Evil characters as Good. As many Villains as Heroes. I don't think it's true - there's a reason most games still come from the perspective of the PCs being the good guys. Still, if you GM for long you'll get at least a few requests for people to play villains, so let's talk about it.
Villains Are Pro-Active By Nature
This is the part that is often overlooked by players. Villains by their nature are pro-active. When was the last time you read a comic about Superman going after a villain who was just minding their own business, not bothering anyone, and otherwise just kind of kicking it and waiting for adventure to find them? Exactly. To quote Dr. Horrible, Villains are looking to upset the status quo because the status is not quo, and they need to fix it.
Looking at it in a different light a Villain is basically a Hero with a problem, and/or a solution that the rest of society may object to. And we all know that once a Hero finds a solution for their problem there isn't nothing stopping them, right?
Not A License To Be A Dick
Look, if you want to play a dick at the table that's on you. Being a villain, being evil, or being "chaotic" is not really an excuse to do it though. Keep in mind when making your villain that there are 4-5 other people at the table who are there to have fun as a group and that you are part of that group too. Playing a villain like the Joker, someone who constantly goes rogue, blows up everyone else's plans, and delights in the suffering of his peers isn't good for a PC at the table. Someone like Harley Quin, Lex Luthor, or other members you see in team ups are better. Why? Because they can function as a team, which means they can do the group stuff and still be villains.
Subtly Is Key
Odds are someone in your party is going to be trying to be a hero. Odds are most of the group is at least leaning towards good. Odds are your GM is trying to tell a story that isn't about the triumph of evil. All of this is fine. However, it means that you will likely need to be subtle, employ subterfuge, and move in the dark as things go. At least starting off your evil will be in bonus objectives and side moves. You need power. You need means. And you need the goodie two shoes around you to not know, or even suspect what you're up to.
I see lack of subtly ruin villainous PCs in so many games. The player can't wait to do something evil that they jump at it and then the jig is up. It's like building a character around a huge secret, only to end up telling everyone you meet about said secret. It kind of ruins the impact.
If You Get Too Big....
There's a chance when playing a villain to become the big bad. There is a chance when that happens that the GM is going to relieve you of the character and make it an NPC. Talk to the GM before hand about this. Know going in if it is something that could happen, or if the GM is comfortable letting you play it out through the end game. Some GMs, and groups, are ok with it. Others are not.
Enjoy Your Reveal
At some point during the campaign the fact you're a villain will likely come up. When that happens, do what you can to make it dramatic. Make it fun, for yourself and others. Enjoy your time, and good luck!