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I used to play in a group of min-maxers who mostly just focused on being combat monsters. The easiest way to get them to care about catching the bad guy was to have him threaten to take their gear, or something else that would equally frustrate them or ruin their hard work.

I've since started playing with a group of people who are more into the role-playing aspects of role-playing games, and was wondering what kinds of things other GMs here do to make their players hate their bad guys.
Doc Chase
Be the Rene Belloq to their Indiana Jones. Make a rival runner team with more resources that foils them, or attempts to. They never kill the team outright, but leave them in escapable deathtraps, arrayed against a seeming legion of gangers with an escape route, things to get the blood pumping and the anger flowing at losing out on a payday.

Hubris with justification. A smarmy foe is one that's going to rankle the players and make them take risks, make mistakes - or alternatively, make a magnificent plan that will put the foe in their place and cause him to make mistakes instead. Eventually it will get personal, and that's when contacts and family get targeted as collateral. biggrin.gif
The key is finding whatever button will trigger the expected reaction, but this can vary a lot between player, and even between characters of the same player.

Unneeded killing of innocent bystanders is a classic, but some characters as more likely just pick up the pices and sell them to Tamanous for pocket money than to feel concerned.

Really vile characters - say a guy who hook underage schoolgirls to hard drugs, put them in the sex trade, then make them "star" in snuff braindance and give away the craps to his ghouls security when they begin to be too worn out to be profitable - are often a good bet. I remember a scenario where we busted a porno/snuff braindance studio and were really disturbed when we found that the resident security dobermann was fitted with a sim recorder...

While somewhat cliché, repulsive look and personnal habits may also work. Let me introduce an NPC we met : "Slimy", owner of a seedy bar/strip club. The guy was overweight, sweaty, smelly and all-around repulsive, asked "personnal services" of any girl desperate enough to want work in such a place, and thoroughly enjoyed their disgust and humiliation while he used them in the vilest way he could imagine, sometimes publicly.

Doing bad things to contacts, friends or family is also a good trigger for role player, but be careful not to overuse it.
General things that make PC's carry grudges against NPCS:

PC's really, really hate being kidnapped/forced to do something. If you have an NPC do either, the PCs will hunt him or her down to the ends of the earth. See the start of "Something Completely Different" for a good example of how to piss PC's off with this.

Betrayal, even something as simple as stiffing the PCs for a job, or more complex stuff like setting the PCs up, framing them for something, etc.

It's generally easier to make PCs like an NPC than hate an NPC, oddly enough. Just have an NPC who is nice to them and does them favors (but don't make the PCs pay for a contact, obviously). Or give the PCs a good (free) contact who's helpful to them for a few missions and gives useful information/has character and is fun to RP with. Then have the NPC you want them to hate kill the well-liked NPC.

I've found that players truely hate an NPC when that NPC takes control away from them. This can be in any of the aspects of playing be it role playing, strategic thinking, limiting their dicepools, etc.

If they're power games or min-maxers, make it a NPC where their combat abilities are worthless or accounted for.

And if they're roleplayers... ruin their "shtick". For instance, the face in my group likes to be a "quip-slinging, talk-backing, brat, but is just so smooth that you can't help but listen and respect her". So there was this one situation that had her captured by a bad NPC. Was the Enemy quality of the TM, so he's a Ares researcher hunting for him, and trying to go through the face to do it. Through events he had been exposed to VITAS-3 and was getting treatment while still operating in a bio-hazard suit. This made a nice little situation where she couldn't actually risk hurting him without getting exposed herself.

Anyhow, she's playing things like usual. Being a smart ass and trusting huge dice pools to bail her out. So in the middle of one of her jokes I interrupt with a huge bout of coughing and hacking. At first everyone thinks I'm really coughing until I keep right on role playing.

Face: "So you got the wrong gal. So why don't you let me out before you all look lik-"
Face: "Err Ido-"
Face: "You OK?"
NPC: "No I'm not "ok" you little twit! I have the fucking PLAGUE thanks in no small part to you and your fuc-" -COUGH COUGH, CLEAR THROAT- "... friends!"
At this point he pulls out a Pain Inducer.
Face: "WHOA WHOA WHOA! I'm cooperating, I'm cooperating! No need for that!"
NPC: "Heh... I guess that depends on if there is ever really a need for-" -HACK HACK, SHORT PAUSE- "... vengeance. If you had asked me two days ago... But today-!"
And then he shoots her with the inducer. She crawls under the interrogation table and he just simply bends over and hits her again with it.
NPC: "Now..." -HACK!- "You can either tell me what I want to know, or we take you out to the firing range and let the new recruits play target practice with these things." -COUGH COUGH- "Practice drills run about an hour and you'd be surprised how quickly these new recruits learn."

She talked.

I think when he finally died in a fiery helicopter explosion they all got up and hi-fived.
Saint Sithney
If they're really into the roleplaying aspect, then they should have developed back-stories filled with the sort of tragedy and messed up mindset which puts people in the Shadows in the first place.

That's where you look first.

Your players should have invested some work into their backstory, so if you use it, they like you for acknowledging their work, even if they hate the character who is pushing their buttons.

As to how to make a BBEG easy to hate, just watch a movie. It's all about the "kick the dog" moment. Show the BBEG doing something unnecessarily cruel, cold or disgusting to someone helpless.

The recurring sympathetic villain is also a decent alternative...
Very nice one, Tagz. Believable motivation is the key to a villain, and you played that well. Saint Sithney, villains who are evil for the sake of being evil aren't very interesting. When they are instead motivated by emotions and goals that players recognize, understand, and empathize with, they become real, and that's when they get scary. That's when your players motivate themselves to deal with the villain.

The peak of vile NPCs are the ones that can con the players into executing the NPC's plans. All while the PCs are hating and trying to stop the bastard, they're only playing into his hands.

If only I could find the right motivators...and the right plan.
Saint Sithney
Shooting a captured interrogation subject repeatedly with a pain inducer and then threatening to continue the process for the next hour is a pretty good example of "cruelty towards the helpless" imo...

Not quite needless, but not quite necessary. Tagz' example is the sort of corporate psychopathic/sociopathic cruelty of the system. A guy who is tasked with taking care of a monstrous job (kidnapping someone for scientific study,) in a monstrous way (destroy, torture and murder as needed,) for an arguably noble purpose (increase human knowledge and general safety of Ares and those whom Ares protects.)

Kicking the dog, as a metaphor, is all about doing something mean to someone or something whom/which the players care about personally, or on principle, in order to establish the character as a son of a bitch.

If you want a real diseased creep, you have to move in stages, working the player's resources and advantages against them, all while beleaguering them with underlings. Pervert justice, set them up to be reviled, work away at their contacts, friends and reputations to starve them out. The diseased bastard is all about removing latitude from the players while hiding away in safety. He doesn't take from his target to make himself greater, but to make the target lesser.
The difference in those two examples is: Why? In tagz's the guy is motivated by the fact the runners gave him the plague. Why is the puppy kicker hurting puppies?

Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Mesh @ Jul 6 2010, 06:54 PM) *
The difference in those two examples is: Why? In tagz's the guy is motivated by the fact the runners gave him the plague. Why is the puppy kicker hurting puppies?


Because he is mentally disturbed? Sociopathic? Sadistic? All the Above? wobble.gif

Keep the Faith
Perhaps, but those are more along the lines for explaining the choice in behavior, not the motivation behind them. Though in those particular cases the motivation can be disjointed, trivial, and have nothing to do with said puppy.

So in my example, the bad guy started off bad from the start, but only towards the TM and other TMs. He had a clear motivation for it, research and the prestige that it would bring. His lack of empathy towards TMs let him proceed it in a cruel and heartless manner. Then you throw in the VITAS-3 and a few other things and he's lost his patience with the runners and feels his actions are justified against such people. After all, he's pursuing science and they're criminals who've aided an attempt on his life and the lives of his entire research team (unknowingly). He's justified.

A lack of empathy explains how he's ABLE to do such things, but doesn't answer the why question. And it's remarkable how just answering that little question brings a villain from a cartoonish bad guy into something more realistic. In my opinion that's what really sells a villain.

Also, I love self-righteous villains.
Saint Sithney
"Kicking the dog" is just a term for excessive abuse or cruelty used to establish a character as immoral relative to the players.

Sure it's not as good as a personal motive, but it's an easy way to establish a character, and not every villain of the week can have some personal thing. Special villains and prime runners have personal things, but do that too much and it becomes mush just like any other plot device. The guy in Tagz' "Knight Templar" example was put there by the Enemy quality or the Wanted quality, and so was, by necessity a personal villain, but most won't be.

So, say you've got an Insect Shaman you're going to drop on the characters. Instead of going for the characters or their family directly (or just having the Runners dropped into the scenario on a purely mercenary basis,) you take Runner McStreeturchin's street level fixer, and have them call up saying that kids are disappearing from the ghettomunity where McStreeturchin grew up. Now you've got a bit of personal air in it. The old, "this could have been you" angle. So the runners investigate and find out that there's a pederast insect shaman doing sick shit in the sewers. Players are all like, "motherfuuu-" and they chase him down. He gets away and sics a bunch of fleshform insects on the runners in the form of 6-year-old barrens kids - 6-year-old barrens kids whose sobbing parents the runners already questioned - and now the runners have to gun down a mess of possessed tots and chase after the pedo-shaman. When they catch up to the shaman and kill him dead, they're going to remember it, maybe not fondly, but vividly.

In this instance, kids are the dog. Insect Shaman could be grabbing winos or any other helpless strays, but he chose kids for his own perverted personal reasons, and that's what makes it unnecessarily cruel. And that's why it's more satisfying to put him down. The dog of choice really depends on the morality of the group you're playing, but any time a guy goes out of his way to abuse the trusting or loyal, it's kicking the dog.
You got to tailor it to your group, what pushes their buttons? I mean, if they drive, then an army of Squeegee Kids might do it.

If not, always go with the old stand-by of Nazis...

Well, Humanis Policlub in Shadowrun. Close enough.
I've created more than a few memorable villains over the years.

The formula that seems to work best for me is to create a villain who not only excels at taking advantage of the PCs weaknesses, but also taunts them a bit while doing so. Then its just a matter of having the villain show up when the group least expects it.

The flipside of that coin is to prepare for the villain to die an epic and memorable death at the hands of the PCs. A normal death just won't suffice; it really should end with something more intriguing than a simple battle.
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