Who Are We Rooting For, Part 1: The Antagonist

One of the things I notice a lot, both in the chapter-by-chapter snarks I treat as a guilty pleasure, and in general reviews, are stories where the audience has a clear character to root for in mind, but for whatever reason, that character just isn’t the protagonist. For whatever reason, the antagonists are coming across [...]

Five Sources of Plan-Fodder

While I talked yesterday about stringing together details and questions to come up with an antagonist’s plan on the fly, space constraints left me rather vague about what sorts of details and questions might actually qualify. Here are a few I’ve either used or seen used to pretty good effect.

This will be dramatic now, what [...]

Reaching the Plan From the Beginning

Yesterday, I talked about figuring out the antagonist’s long-running overarching plan when you know the end but aren’t quite so sure about the middle. Today, I’m going to talk about it from the other direction: you’ve got the beginning, you’ve got a very vague idea what the antagonist wants (probably something vague like “Take over [...]

Reaching the Plan from the Ending

Last week, I talked about situations a writer or GM trying to run an antagonist with a Plan might be trying to run that opponent from (with regards to knowledge/lack of knowledge of the plan itself). Today, I’m going to look at how to get to that plan from one of those scenarios in a [...]

Getting to the Plan

Yesterday, I talked about the problems with having antagonists who Have a Plan that nobody in the audience can figure out. For the writer without an outline, though, or the GM improvising around the PCs, it can be difficult to make absolutely sure that the plan gets across. Here are some strategies to keep it [...]

What Plan, Dangit?

Readers, it has often been said that I like antagonists with Plans. I like antagonists with Plans. I love antagonists with Plans. I love the ones who can tell you every little detail, particularly the parts that you’re going to have to fit right into, but they’ve got it so thoroughly figured out that you [...]

On the Corruption of Fictional Bureaucrats

Corruption. It’s one of those dark things that we like to use to make antagonists out of characters who really don’t seem like the type to go into full-out villainy, pretty much as soon as we step into a setting that screams out “bureaucracy”. They’re evil HR managers, embezzling accountants, stock traders with inside information—they’re [...]

Impractical Applications (Redeemability)

A while ago, I talked about details that make antagonists, if not redeemable, then at least a little more tolerable. That’s something I’ve tried to put into practice a few times, to test out audience reactions myself.
First, there was Jalil, and to a similar extent his family. The man himself was something of an accident [...]

Antagonists and the Details That Redeem Them

This was inspired by (and, in fact, supposed to be a comment to, before it turned post-length on me) the recent Hathor Legacy article “Pride and Possession”. In it, Gena responds to seeing a debate on whether or not Mother Gothel might not have been so bad after all (I’ll admit, this concept rather scares [...]

On Differentiating Antagonists

We know all characters need to be differentiated one way or another, but it’s particularly important for antagonists. After all, even in standard fiction, villains drive the story enough that it takes a really spectacular main character to make up for a bad one, and—well, since the protagonist in a game’s been outsourced to the [...]