Methinks the Handbook overstates its case. Evil comes in many varieties! There are ravening, chaotic monsters who just want to watch the world burn. There are honorable lieutenants who feel duty-bound to serve a dark master. Then you’ve got insane cultists, evil-by-nature demons, evil-in-name-only cartoon villains… The list goes on! For the moment, however, let’s forgive the Handbook its generalizations. We’re talking about the Demonweb Throne here, and that mess is all about power grabs.

When you’re dealing with villains like Morgoth, Palpatine, or (appropriately enough for today’s comic) Skeletor, you’re dealing with ambition. As an archetype, the Dark Lord is defined by its position at the top of the heap. But just because they’re in charge, it doesn’t mean they’re satisfied. No matter how many armies of darkness or super weapons or second-in-commands they’ve got, Dark Lords are always looking for the next conquest. If there’s a rebel hero out there, they need to be snuffed out. If there’s rumor of dissension in the ranks, examples must be made. No threat to the pecking order can be tolerated. And therein lies the utility in your campaign.

If you’ve got a BBEG defined by ambition, then you’ve got ready-made conflict. Starscream and Sauron are always hovering behind the throne, dagger in hand, waiting for their opportunity to take the throne for themselves. That means you’ve got corollary tropes to draw upon. Enemy-of-my-enemy alliances, gothy princesses who can be turned against their parents, and put-upon servants who can be bribed. (Judging by the look of Woolantula the Servile in today’s comic, I think BBEG may have one of the latter already.) All of the above represent vectors of attack for your protagonists. They are convenient ways to get in, get close, and place a less-evil butt in the big evil chair.

So while BBEG adjusts his lumbars, what do you say the rest of us talk shop about ambitious villains? When the will to dominate all life is your villain’s MO, how do you work backwards to structure a campaign? Do you prefer the classic nesting-doll setup, where the local boss leads to the regional boss leads to the Dark Throne? Or do you like to kick things off with an Evil Revolution, where your BBEG has just toppled the old guard and is now racing to consolidate power? There are countless variations on the theme, and I have no doubt that you’ve seen at least one Dark Lord in your own gaming experience. So for today’s discussion, let’s hear all about your experiences with “I am a god!” tropesmanship.


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