I’m seeing a pattern with Wizard. Between “Claiming the Throne” and today’s hostage situation, I’m getting the impression that she’s a touch picky about her drama. I, on the other hand, am a little less discerning. That’s because villains have limited opportunities to get their villainy in.

Sure you can see the effects of a BBEG’s influence. They might burn down princesses or kidnap kingdoms, and then your band of merry murderhobos get to go and deal with it. But when it comes to face-to-face villain interaction, the clock is always ticking. And that’s because of the aforementioned band of merry murderhobos.

When you finally meet your villain, the first impulse is to make with the murders. I’ve always got The Gamers in the back of my head in this situation, along with the sad fate of the Bandit King. Dude tries, but he only gets a few words in before there’s an arrow in his neck. In my mind, the lesson for GMs is clear. When you’re running a villain, and especially when the party is meeting them for the first time, you’ve got to convey their personality with maximum efficiency. And that means coming up with a suitably pithy set of one-liners.

Illithid: “Your small, primitive brains cannot comprehend our great purpose. They will be tasty though.”

Shambling Mound Gangster: “Sure I’ve heard of you. I’ve got my tendrils running through every part of this lousy town.”

Zombie: “Garaaaggh-ugg!”

Once you’ve got that opening gambit set up, it’s important to keep the punches coming. That’s because role-playing doesn’t stop during combat. An ongoing stream of taunts, pompous pontificating, and threats to loved once can transform the standard hack-and-slash into a satisfying social occasion.

Beholder, after successful melee attack: “I’ve got my eyes on you.”

Death Cultist, summoning undead minions: “Time for a little meet ‘n greet with the staff. I always like to introduce new recruits to their future coworkers.”

Dragon, defending lair: “I take great pride in my hoard, so I must ask: is your armor +1 or +2? I’ll need to file it properly once you’re dead.”

These quips don’t even have to be that good. Their purpose is just to remind your players that they’re fighting more than a stat block. You’re shooting for flavor with mid-combat banter, and it’s important to acknowledge the PCs when you do it. Reference their appearance, their immediate danger, or some element of their backstory. Anything to place them in the presence of a specific villain rather than a generic monster.

All of this brings us to our question of the day! What is the single best one-liner you’ve ever heard a villain use? And if you don’t have any, imagine an encounter with the current BBEG of your campaign. What is the one thing they could they say to piss off your character? Let’s hear that sweet villain banter down in the comments!

 

GET YOUR SCHWAG ON! Want a piece of Handbook-World to hang on you wall? Then you’ll want to check out the “Hero” reward tier on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Each monthly treasure hall will bring you prints, decals, buttons, bookmarks and more! There’s even talk of a few Handbook-themed mini-dungeons on the horizon. So hit the link, open up that treasure chest, and see what loot awaits!