So there he is in all his glory. The most evil, orphan slaying, puppy kicking villain in all of Handbook-World! And also there’s BBEG. 

Of course, Assassin has been humbled somewhat since he joined The Anti-Party. Hanged by dirty peasants, beat half to re-death by his own teammates, and summarily left for double-dead on the vasty plains of Heck, you’ve got to ask yourself how he can possibly remain a threat? I mean, the target has been effectively neutralized. You might as well write him out of the campaign, right?

Well not so fast. The wheel of fortune spins both ways. Just as heroes at the height of glory may be brought low by a single shitty roll, villains at the nadir of their arc can be returned to glory (those insufferable pricks).

Often this will manifest like we’re seeing today. Yesterday’s villain is tomorrow’s evil lieutenant as the bigger, badder antagonist puts the failed boss monster to work: “You never had a chance against them, you poor naïve fool. But with my armies to do your bidding you will be unstoppable.”

If you don’t have a convenient BBEG around you can always level ’em up. Add a template. Put them in a party with other jerks from your rogue’s gallery, allowing their combined power to become formidable. Almost any power bump works! Trick ’em out with magic weapons, give them some weird new class levels, or throw ’em in an ambush rather than a standup fight.

In all cases, you’ve got to look past the monster’s stats and on towards the possibilities. I mean sure, a hill giant isn’t much of a challenge late in the game. But a hill giant in Hell Knight plate with an intelligent battle axe calling the shots…. that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

So for today’s discussion, what do you say we expand upon my list? When a villain has outlived their usefulness, how do you keep ’em relevant as a threat to a high-level party? Tell us all your best techniques down in the comments!


ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Thrice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.