Villains are characters who are part of the overarching plot of a series of games. A villain is intended to be a nebulous character that the players are aware of, but cannot immediately identify. Various evil acts can be directly or indirectly attributed to the villain. As time progresses, the villain grows stronger - meanwhile, the players can attempt to find various clues to the identity and whereabouts of the villain, ultimately confronting them.
As the characters earn story points, the villain should also progress. When characters earn SP, the villain should be given half as much SP, and half as many villain points, see below. The SP should be spent prior to the players discovering the villain, but for convenience, doesn't need to be spent immediately.
Villain points are a spendable currency which villains acquire as the player characters journey throughout the world. Villain points are meant to be spent on villainous activities. The table of villainous activity is presented below:
Hire a Lieutenant: The villain gains a new lieutenant - see below. Lieutenants are used to carry out evil plans from afar, but can lead to the villain's downfall as they know some secret about the villain's identity. A villain can have any number of lieutenants.
Hire 3 Minions: The villain gains 3 new minions - see below. They can disperse them as they see fit, and can hire multiple types of minions at once. There is no limit to the minions a villain can have.,
Send a Message: The villain manages to "send a message" - this can be a literal message, but can be more of the "head on a pike" type of message as well. No evidence can be gathered from the message about the identity of the villain.
Small-scale Personal Crimes: A crime that is small in scale is committed and it is clear the villain is responsible; this may be a theft, or vandalism, and may even amount to murder.
Kidnapping or Murder: An important character has been kidnapped by the villain. The villain may leave a demand or ransom note, or they may not. What they opt to do with the kidnapped character is up to the narrator.
Large-scale Military Crimes: A crime that is large in scale and must have been committed by a sizeable force; this may be things like blocking or destroying a dam or bridge, burning a wood, or raiding a village.
Cursing an Area: The villain (who has an appropriate affinity) has spread a curse over a large area or population. An existing curse heart can be used for this so long as the villain has access to it - simply change the area or number of targets to encapsulate a village, crop, or water source.
Capture a Monster: The villain has a monster - a beast or horror, under their control. The cost is 3VP per challenge rating, with a maximum challenge rating of 5 (monsters with challenge rating 6+ cannot be captured by a villain). The villain can choose to keep the monster as personal defense, or unleash it on a nearby village, kingdom, or other area of importance.
As described above, villains can periodically hire a lieutenant. A lieutenant is a Champion character that starts with half the SP the villain has. The lieutenant should have a unique set of skills and talents, with a minor backstory. The lieutenant can be thrown in front of the players immediately, or can be substituted in for another minor antagonist - for example, if in the course of generally hunting the villain, the players are sidetracked by a series of kidnappings in a local village, they can come to discover that the kidnappings have been orchestrated by the villain's lieutenant.
Lieutenant are fiercely loyal to the villain, but can crack under pressure. It is up to the characters how best to question the lieutenant, but in the end, they can only ever get one clue to assist in finding the hidden identity of the villain (see below). No amount of trickery can reveal more than one clue - lieutenants themselves rarely know exactly who they are working for.
Aside from having access to a single clue, lieutenants are otherwise treated as normal NPCs.
Minions are any non-Champion NPC template from the mortal species section of the Bestiary. These are recruits to the villain's cause, lured in by promises of power and riches. The villain can direct them as desired - typically, when hiring 3 minions, the villain will keep 1 or 2 as personal defense (adding to any they have already) and dispatched the remained to assist their lieutenant.
Villains typically have a hidden identity. When the villain is first revealed due to their actions, the players should be given a very basic clue - e.g., the villain is a witch or wizard due to their use of fae magic. As the players gather clues from the villain's lieutenants, they progress towards increasingly specific information. Each of the following identity tracks starts unfilled - when a new clue is discovered, either select a track at random, or choose one (if it makes sense to specify one), then provide the next clue in that track.
Identity Track: species -> gender -> age and discerning features -> name
Location Track: region -> nearby landmark -> identifying geographic features -> exact location
Power Track: starting tale -> current SP -> current minions -> unique abilities