Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Fast Antagonist Generator

Sometimes you need a really fast antagonist. So based on 5 minutes thought, here's what I do. This doesn't generate well-rounded opponents, just fast ones. It also doesn't generate themes or names...that's a different thing from this, though I nod to it in the last step.

I've made this moderately generic, so you'll also have to translate into the appropriate stuff for your system. It is probably slanted to ICONS, because that's the system I was thinking of, but I hope it's not slanted too much.

  1. Do you need a combat antagonist or a social antagonist? They emphasize different things.
  2. Decide on a general level for the antagonist. Maybe you're using Mutants & Masterminds and it's PL, maybe it's the ICONS or FATE chart. The level represents the difficulty for the heroes to defeat, outsmart, or avoid the obstacle. I tend to think in terms of a relative level for combat and an absolute level for social things, but you do you. An absolute level is easier to explain here, so I'll use that in this list.
  3. For combat, decide if the character is primarily a melee fighter, a ranged fighter, or a mentalist. Then you want to set the primary abilities for that kind of combat to the difficulty level you've chosen. Maybe it's fighting ability or high martial arts; maybe it's willpower.
  4. For combat, pick the power or ability that causes the damage. Maybe it's mind control...this antagonist can take over anyone; maybe it's strength; maybe it's a finely-honed set of concussive beams coming out of the// mouth. Up to you.
  5. Again for combat, decide on one of three types of defense: The character has a glass jaw (hard to hit but easy to damage), is average (hard-to-hitness and damage absorption are set to the difficulty level), or is tough (easy to hit but damage absorption is really high).
  6. For a social antagonist, you're looking for a character you can't hit, probably because they aren't obviously a villain. This is the area of your crime lords, your unwitting romantic interests, your crippled relatives, or your crusading bosses. So pick a reason that the hero can't use violence to solve the problem--it might be as simple as being in the other non-hero circle of life, or it's the government's representative, or the hero loves the person because it's Aunt April.
  7. Socially, I've come up with at least these four types of opponents; pick one.
    Fly in the ointment
    This character interfere's with the hero existence. This is the cub reporter who wants a ride-along to do "a day in the life"; this is the enthusiastic fan; this is the protester (who might shade into the publicist); this is the government official who needs to see the hero in action before he approves the hero.
    Speed bump
    On the opposite side, this obstacle has perfectly reasonable expectations of the hero's secret (or not so secret) identity. This is the girlfriend who expects the hero at her folks' place for her mother's birthday, the boss who wants the hero to work overtime, the hot guy who has decided to give the hero a date but only tonight, the cousin coming into town, the blind date who won't go home.
    The character who speaks out for or against the character and influences them. For best results, the hero should have a personal relationship with the publicist in some form. This is the crusading newspaper publisher, the crime lord who wants to shut the character down, the protesting blogger with the ear of government, the columnist, the mayoral candidate who has made destroying the character part of his election campaign, the Twitter spambot, the fake news articles.
    The charact trying to find out more about the character. This might be incidental to something else ("What did happen on the pier on the night of July 12?") or it might be about the character ("Who is Megaguy?")
  8. Given the type of antagonist, you want to improve the appropriate ability/skill to the difficulty level, or provide a quality to provide the motivation, or both.
  9. Do that naming and description thing.