October 18, 2009
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One way to do the balanced villain thing is to not give the abilities with a number, but some sort of modifier (like +1). That way, the GM could adjust the number of dice for each ability. based on how tough he wanted the villain to be. Then you would simply need a guide to the number of dice for each class of villain.
This would not only simplify the villain listing, it would also be in line with the comics where a villain is as tough or weak as he needs to be. Why is it that the Joker can menace Batman on equal footing in his own title, but take on the whole Justice League in THEIR comic? Because the story requires it, that’s why.
For example, let’s make a villain up on the spot, Buffalo Soldier. His listing could look like this:
Elephant Gun *
[ ][ ]Buffalo Charge +1
Brains of a Buffalo -1
The * indicates base level. So, if Buffalo Soldier was supposed to be a minor superpowered lackey, the base level would be 2, so his Elephant Gun attack would do 2d6, and his Buffalo Charge would do 3d6. His Brains of a Buffalo would be 1d6 (he’s kinda dumb and slow, like a buffalo). Now, if he were part of a villain group and starting to be a real threat, his base level would be increased to 3. If the GM wanted to power up Buffalo Soldier and send him against all the heroes all by his buffalo self, use 4 as the base level.
You could still list a fixed number, if you want, so we could make his Brains of a Buffalo fixed at 1d6 so he would be dumb and slow no matter what his power level. You can also list NPC heroes like this, at -1/*/+1, so they can be used as PCs, or powered up as ‘annoyance’ heroes (like Captain Hero) or plot devices (the powerful hero that sacrifices himself).