The Generic Villain Runs Protagonists Into a Wall

Taking a break from the Evil Overlord List to talk about something near and dear to our hearts—keeping those blasted protagonists out of our hair. Sometimes, we just need to stall the living daylights out of them. We know we probably can’t kill them, or at least not all of them; we know that we can’t just keep them away, so the best thing to do is to keep them occupied with something else long enough for us to do what needs to be done—run them into a wall they’ll just keep bashing and bashing.

Let’s operate on the assumption that you want, not necessarily to kill the heroes (though if it does that too, it’d be a bonus), but to keep them busy throwing themselves at the same wall for a long, long time. How do you do it?

First off, get the right lure. Preferably a lure on multiple levels, if you can swing it. I find that playing to both their compassion (or teamwork, or wish to foil your plans, or whatever their predominant intangible hero-quality motivation is) and to their innate sense of greed is your best shot; whatever they’re doing, it needs to have some sort of incentive to both.

Second, give them a nice straightforward run-up; challenging enough that they think they earned every inch of it, but easy enough to build up their confidence. You want them to come into your brick wall feeling like they can do anything. The faster they’re running, the harder they splat.

Then hit them with the wall. You’re going to want to choose the wall carefully; there are multiple factors it needs to balance. First, unless you’ve managed to rig a circumstance in which they absolutely have to go through this thing, it can’t be completely invincible, nor even practically invulnerable as far as they’re concerned. They need to be able to have a visible impact on it, enough to make them think that they can indeed wear it down, it’ll just take a while and require Tactics and Determination and Clever Use of Powers and Teamwork and various other things with an obnoxious tendency to be capitalized and capitalized on by protagonist-types. The longer they keep telling themselves that, and the longer they hang around trying to slowly wear this thing down… well, the longer they’re out of your hair. For extra credit, delay their attempts at wearing it down by sending in small mookish things; sure, the mooklets may not last very long against them, but not only will that keep them from finishing off the wall, it’ll also convince them that the reason why the wall is taking so long is the mooklets and not just that they really aren’t up for the task. Rinse, repeat….

And watch as the heroes are kept busy and worn down for hours.

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