Villainous Hierarchy

Tuesday, 27. July 2010

Players face many foes within a standard game.  One of the most standard is varying villainous organizations, which have varying sizes but typically have similar structures as they get progressively larger.   In this particular issue, we’ll examine the standard base organizations and look at their possible associations later.  With that in mind, here is a birds eye view.

The standard organization is very similar to the military and paramilitary.  There are generals, tiers of commanders and soldiers.  Typically the titles will vary, but it generally works out to boss or masterminds and associated high level assistant and associates.  After that, there is a tier or tiers of lieutenants, and finally henchmen.   Typically masterminds have little contact with player characters, they may or may not be know depending on what the organization is (And of course, the villains wishes.)  Lieutenants are encountered somewhat more frequently, and hopefully only in larger organizational operations.  Henchmen are what the players are mostly likely to encounter on a regular basis, as they are the arm of the organization when it comes to getting things done.  Often they’ll have a lesser leader in charge of them on more important jobs.

Cellular organizations are quite different.  These are more likely to exist in the face of overwhelming opposition, as they are far less connected and therefore have less information on the organization for enterprising heroes, corporations or governments to crush.  Rather than operating from a central point, smaller cells often of 3-10 people are given goals and allowed or encouraged to accomplish them on their own.  There is often a leader within the cell and communications between cells are kept to a minimum and discrete is possible.  The organizations leader exists more in the form of guidance and encouragement for the groups operations rather than a direct commander.

The organizations goons of course don’t work for free, there has to be some motivation for their employment.  The most obvious, common and uninspired reason is money.  Going beyond that however is the acquisition of power, prestige or both.  There are of course negative ways of employment.  These are threats, coercion and blackmail.  A character in such position is often far more desperate and therefore dangerous than one that is getting comfortably paid.  These means are useful for the organizations to recruit unwilling assistance, such as player characters.

The villainous organization will have a goal in mind.   This is determined by their leader; although bear in mind however that not everyone desires to rule the world.  Having an iron fist on the immediate surroundings, revenge, lots of respect or lots of money is good enough reason for many.  This can of course change with time, but is something good to start with that can also grow as player characters do. (Or shrink depending on their effectiveness…)

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