As much as I like roleplaying, there’s so many traps and pitfalls that RP’ers seem to fall in to. Self included. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a character that just happens to be a “merc with a mouth”. It’s not quite Deadpool-level, but it is a crutch that I have leaned upon rather heavily over the course of my roleplaying life.
So, I was perhaps considering how to make a villain character…but then I got to thinking of how completely awful and stupid an idea that is.
Obviously, I don’t consider myself an expert on roleplaying or how RP should operate. I merely am lining out my own personal observations…and it has been my observation that playing a bad guy in an MMO is almost universally done awfully. None of the bad characters I’ve run across struck me as terribly threatening so much as just using their avatar as an excuse to throw away their social graces.
Of course, that’s fine to an extent–roleplaying is the primary force of escapism in addition to being in a new game world. The point, however, is that a villain is more than just a poor attitude or a force of murderous power. A really good villain, in my eyes, is even more charismatic than the heroes he or she is fighting against. If you’re going to be the sort who comes up with a long, drawn-out and ultimately convoluted plan to thwart some people, you really should have the sort of personality that convinces others that your mad scheme is a good idea.
However, the sort of things I’ve witnessed are the sort of villains that would be relegated to mini-boss status in a videogame context. They merely act imposing, dress threateningly, and speak about the sorts of power they could unleash upon you. Of course, being able to act out said power requires a level of consent and a HUGE amount of in-game systems that most MMO companies would never pour money in to…but since all we have to go by in most RP situations are words, the words of many baddie roleplayers are hollow threats.
So…how to perhaps fix it. I think, honestly, charisma is the best avenue. My favorite bad guys weren’t only just threatening or scary, but they also had a touch of entertaining madness to them. They were scheming, arrogant, just a bit insane and were often running jokes that you enjoyed booing at instead of getting enraged at.
Essentially, I’m talking about one Don Karnage.
Just in case I’m dating myself, or you had a terrible childhood, Don Karnage was one of the villains in the cartoon Tale Spin. He was a sky pirate captain who was continually looking to just create the biggest chaos and mess to cement himself as the grandest buccaneer in the whole world. It was a totally selfish plot, and he was continually thwarted by a pilot whose craft had no actual weapons…but he still was enjoyable.
For one thing, he was a fully moving character, despite his shallow premise. He was a motivated individual. He was assured of victory and almost never flew into bouts of total rage…and in the end he cared about his safety to the point where he would turn tail and run if the plan wasn’t working out. Most villains nowadays seem to die in the fireball of their failure. Don Karnage ran away, but not in the “mwahaha” sense but in the yelping, hurt dog sense…and just like a dog, he would come back and try again. Partially because he was dumb, but partially because he was energetic.
That’s what’s missing from most baddie RP, in my view. Energy. Impetus. A want to really turn up the charm despite the fact that you’re the sort who would bomb an entire building to get to a safe or to unload a whole squadron of planes because one guy stole a treasure. It takes way more effort to play a villain that endears as much as it endangers.
Perhaps, though, this is much ado about nothing–as I mentioned before, this sort of thing takes systems that many MMOs just refuse to put in. It also takes a level of investment from other players and planning that would perhaps drain the fun out of playing a truly effective and fun villain like Don Karnage.
That’s honestly a shame, because when you’ve killed 20 rats, it’d be nice to have someone a little more human to cross swords with. Even if you’d be assured victory, the duel should always be the sauce.