The Seeds Of Villainy Article

The Hierarchy of Villains by Jeff Grubb (from Star Wars Gamer #5)

They are the opposition. They are what stand between the heroes and success. They are the impediments that challenge the characters. They are active foes and random encounters. They are figures of legend, like Darth Vader and Darth Maul, and less-impressive types like Greedo and Sebulba. They are the bad guys, and as the GM, you have a legion of bad guys you use, and how you use them, will determine the tenor of your campaign.

In the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, the bad guys are the focus of the heroes' attention. Whether they are the motivation of the hero's actions or merely that what stands between them and their goals, the Villains are the key to the story. So the challenge becomes — how do you present your bad guys in such a way that makes them interesting, and more importantly, how do you maintain bad guys over several gaming adventures?

A wise GM once said, "These guys have a lifespan of one encounter." Indeed, once you put the heroes in direct conflict with any single villain, there is a good chance that one or the other will not survive the encounter, unless you plan ahead. That carefully constructed crime lord of the Black Sun cartel, put into a room with player-run heroes, may suddenly experience a career-ending injury.

This is not to say you should always deny your heroes the pleasure of pummeling on your bad guys, both great and small. Rather, you should have an idea of how to use your villains to produce not only memorable encounters, but also continuing or developing conflicts for the heroes that may extend beyond the bound of a single encounter or evening's adventure.

Bad guys come in a number of flavors, ranging from spaceport thugs to masterminds who move like shadows behind the scenes. Each type presents its own challenges and opportunities to the GM for interesting encounters, and provides more depth to your campaign.

Starting at the very bottom, these are the everyday bad guys — the mooks, the toughs, and the palookas — that seem to thrive in droves in Starports. Sometimes these guys cross the heroes' path in order to "deliver a message" from the local crime lord. Sometimes they are just minding their own business when the heroes rile them. Sometimes they are just looking for trouble. Often they are nothing more than speed bumps in the path of the more experienced heroes. In game terms, they are frighteningly fragile (any hit goes directly to wounds and calls for a Fort save), and when confronted by such feats as Cleave and Great Cleave, they can go down in handfuls.

Thus are in general good for the self-esteem of struggling heroes, and always something you can throw at them when they missed nabbing the mastermind by just a round, or if the heroes themselves are just looking for trouble.

Most thugs are pretty much unremarkable. So how do you make a handful of rowdies in a spaceport cantina interesting and distinct to the players, and a memorable encounter to their heroes?

A handy way is an obvious physical trait or mannerism to the toughs — any one may be the big one (the one with the highest Strength), the fast one (high Dexterity), or the tough looking one (high Constitution). Don't look for the smart or wise one — that's not always obvious (though Thugs with those traits might be ringleaders — see their entry below). Another easy piece is attributes such as species, or hair or skin color, or a distinct physical attribute or piece of equipment (The pale blue scarred Twi'lek with a knife). In general, it should be something that's pretty darned obvious, since these guys aren't going to give up their life story or anything in the middle of combat.

The Reputation score can also be used as a springboard for their behavior. A thug's reputation is usually tied up with personal achievements. Being "The toughest spacer ever to ship out of Mos Eisley" is a typical boast. And there is the favorite line "I have the death sentence on twelve systems" that commands respect from Jedi Knights and farm boys alike. Generally any conversation with the lot (a short prelude to mayhem) is along the lines of this bragging. Thugs are often hoping to establish who is boss (and they want it to be them).

Most of the thugs are little more than one-shot encounters — you will see them for one scene at best. An exception to this is "The One That Got Away." When you're doing a thuggish type of encounter (say, perhaps, a swoop gang trying to shake down the heroes), one of their number hangs back, and at the first sign of trouble (perhaps when the first of the thugs falls to a hero's lightsaber), heads for the high country. If the heroes are quick (and not otherwise distracted), they might catch up with this one. If they fail, the next time the heroes run into a similar group of thugs, there should be a familiar face among them. This motivates the heroes to complete the set — no heroes like to leave a job unfinished.

As a final idea for the One That Got Away, consider promotion for the Thug that survives dealing with the heroes. Let's say your heroes meet (and best) a swoop gang on Tatooine. One of their members, a pale green, muscular Rodian, gets away in the final battle. The next time the heroes are on Tatooine, a few months later, a gang jumps them on swoop bikes again. now the gang's leader is the same pale green, muscular Rodian, perhaps raised a level in thug or even promoted to ringleader status, with a level of Scoundrel or Soldier for his experiences in fighting the heroes.

Organized Thugs
Just that step above the standard spaceport band of thugs is an organized mob. This includes military groups like the Stormtroopers and combat droids. Unlike your typical thugs, these are identical in appearance (in their armor at least), and like the common thugs, don’t normally lasts more than a single encounter. The high point in their career is usually direct combat with the heroes, and few survive the battle. Like common thugs, they can be used to slowdown more powerful heroes, and while the leaders are not expecting miracles, they are pleased when they bring down a hero or two.

The advantage of organized thugs is just that — they have the level of training (or in the case of droids programming) that allows them to function well in combat. They will tend to be armed more often with missile weapons such as blasters, and be willing to do battle at a distance. Heroes who are fighting organized guns are best off enclosing the distance as quickly as possible and engaging in melee combat. This limits their ability to fire among friendly targets, and organized thugs rarely have the Precise Shot feat.

Organized thugs usually had the advantage of decent technology. They not only tend to have better weapons — the ability fill a corridor with blaster rifle bolts is not to be underestimated — but they have better communications as well. While swoop gang may be operating on their own or bullying the cantina and can be taking down in single combat organized thugs can (and do) call in reinforcement should they find themselves in trouble. For this reason, the heroes fighting organized thugs need to dispatch them quickly — either to prevent them from calling in reinforcements or to keep them from pinning down the heroes until those reinforcements arrive.

When organized thugs have a reputation score, it is usually tied to their unit or organization as opposed to anything they have personally done. Various military units have an esprit de corps that gives them bragging rights, as well as the ability to strike fear in the heart of others. The appearance of Stormtroopers in their white armor should be enough to cow a crowd of planetary locals (though it may be less effective on smugglers and their Wookiee companions).

The Ringleader
The next step up the evolutionary ladder of bad guys are ringleaders — these characters usually have at least one level in a heroic class, which means Vitality Points in addition to Wound Points. As a result they have a higher chance of surviving one good shot. Scoundrels and soldiers are most likely he found in this category, through at the highest levels they can include prestige classes like elite trooper and crime lord.

At first blush, the ringleader figure is akin to the One That Got Away — he’s the thug that orders others in the combat, and then vanishes from the scene at the first sign of trouble. A ringleader that you want to survive is best seen ordering his thugs into combat, and then the leaving before the first sign of trouble. Should his servants succeed in defeating the heroes, he gets to take the credit. Should they fail, well, he can always hire more leg-breakers.

A good example of a ringleader is Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s major domo. While not a warrior in his own right, Fortuna has Jabba’s resources at his disposal as well as permission to use them to aid his own smuggling and slaving operations. Fortuna is not the hand that holds the blaster, but rather the eye that aims it.

A typical ringleader takes his reputation for things that he did, or at least supervised. His “boys” may be running a shakedown racket in the poorer sectors, or he may be the one that fingered a noted smuggler to the bounty hunters. He makes little bones about “his” accomplishments and uses them to impress (and order around) less influential being.

A ringleader by himself should be a challenging encounter for the heroes, for example he would be a level four soldier when confronting four fourth level heroes. On first encounter, he may not even fight the heroes directly and may survive more than one scene as a result. Good (survivable) ringleaders usually keep an aircar with its motor running, or b last doors that can be dropped in to place an order to deter pursuit.

However, after a ringleader has left the heroes in the dirt once or twice, the players may want to make direct action against this particular thorn. Ringleaders don’t usually expect people to come hunting for them, and may be found in their favorite bar or cantina, with a few of their mates and lackeys around them. A well-prepared party can get the drop on our ringleader to deal out their own form of justice.

Ringleaders, unless they feel they have no other choice (they are trapped or challenged directly in front of their men) will sometimes try to talk their way out rather than battle. They will be glad to see their own mangy hides with information, and more than willing to send determined heroes off to bother someone else. They can be scared away by a show of force (“Never darken this planet’s orbit again”) but will usually just pack up and move to greener pastures.

The Good Bad-Guy
Now we're entering the realm of bad guys that may make frequent appearances in the life of a character. These are characters that may appear frequently as foes, rivals, and sometimes-potential allies of the heroes over time and over several adventures. The first is the virtuous villain, the noble opponent, the honorable opposition. He (or she) is the good bad-guy.

The good bad-guy is the villain who operates under a noble (or at least understandable) code of conduct. Honorable and professional bounty hunters are a good example of this type of opponent — they have a set job (finding the individual they are hunting), and in general are not dangerous unless you happen to know someone willing to pay money for your arrest and/or elimination. If the heroes aren't wanted (and are not protecting someone who is wanted), the bounty hunter doesn't want to bother them.

Boba Fett is an excellent example of a good bad-guy. He meets his obligations to both Lord Vader and Jabba the Hutt in bring in both Luke and Leia for one and Han for the other. There is no double-dealing or backstabbing. It's a job for him, pure and simple.

A good bad-guy makes the most of his or her reputation, in particular if it can lower the barriers to getting the job done. If a bounty hunter is known for clean kills, high success rate, and a minimum amount of collateral damage, the hunter is more likely to see more work. Take that into account when playing such a character. The good bad-guy may not wish to endanger innocents, or may go out of his or her way to save them if they are imperiled. This tends to make the good bad-guy a little more difficult for the heroes to just shoot.

When creating a virtuous villain, think about the villain’s reason for being. It can be as base as monetary reward or as noble as vengeance fro some age-old slight. Regardless, it colors how the villain behaves. A purely mercenary, but honorable opponent will not attack a group of innocents in order to reach his target. Knowing this will influence how you play the bad guy, and the players in turn will understand that.

The good bad-guy also creates the potential for situations in which the heroes and the villain are working alongside each other, working toward common goals, or at least not trying to kill each other at first sight. For example, the heroes may be leading a rebellion against a corrupt Imperial official. The honorable villain may be a mercenary who has been hired to find (and liberate) that villain’s stash of ancient documents dating back to the Old Republic. Both the heroes and the good bad-guy have similar goals as far as removing the corrupt Imperial official.

Usually with good bad-guys, there is a point where the two paths diverge — where what the heroes want (overthrowing the corrupt official) and what the good bad-guy wants are at odds (Probably starting the moment the corrupt official flees in panic). A good bad-guy will try to make sure he or she has the upper hand in this particular situation, or, failing that, that the heroes are off dealing with some other problem when it comes time to betray them and leave.

The good bad-guy tend to survive because, were the situations reversed, they would do the same for you. Their actions are at least understandable, if not always acceptable. If thrown into a direct conflict, either the villain or the hero would be walking away from the fight at the end, and unless forced into that direct confrontation, they are good as potential rivals and wild cards in your adventures.

The Bad Good-Guy
He's the card shark with a few aces up his sleeve. The smuggler who has a small package to be delivered to his sainted aunt on Coruscant. The swindler who has stolen a Sith Holocron whose owner wants it back. The smiling old friend who didn't mention that he's being hunted by Boba Fett. He's that bad good-guy, the golden-hearted rouge, and he can often sow dissention among the party members.

Much as the good bad-guy can be trusted for his sense of honor and commitment despite his actions, the bad good-guy is a questionable rogue who often brings his own problems to the players. His intentions may be positive, but something often breaks down on the way to reality. Smugglers who portray themselves as trustworthy traders are a good example of these type of bad good-guy.

A good example of this type of opponent is Lando Calrissian in his early years. A master at the sabacc table, he has gained and lost starships with his gaming abilities. And while he means no ill will to his opponents, he tends to irritate people with his contiually hot hand at cards and his betting ability. Often, given any number of individuals in a casino a majority of them owe money to/are owed money by Lando. And not all are happy about it.

A bad good-guy will use his reputation to stress his trustworthy, loyal, dependable, and honorable nature. If he has to polish the resume a bit and glom over some of the more unpleasant facts, that's part of the way the game is played, in his opinion. He may overstate his value to the Rebel Alliance or his loyal service to the Imperial Navy. Similarly, he will have the perfect excuse for that explosion aboard the space station, or the missing funds from the troop payrolls. Often the bad good-guy will take one step, or two steps, or perhaps ten steps beyond the truth, and get himself (and those around him) in trouble for it.

Encountering the bad good-guy tends to be non-fatal, at least at the start. He will forget to mention a few things, like the droidekas that are currently on his trail or the bounty hunter that is after him or the fact that the Empire wants him for swindles on four different systems.

What keeps the bad good-guy alive is that he's often worht more alive than dead. He usually shows up like a bad cred, with some opportunity that may help the heroes or the cause that they believe in. He's the one with the holo-map to some ancient tomb, or the rumor of some new jump co-ordinates, of the information on Imperial Navy maneuvers. He's a good person to have around, but not to have around for too long.

The last trick for the bad good-guy is that he rarely outstays his welcome. At the first chance of a new mark or a new profit he is on his way, sometimes leaving his former comrades to pick up the pieces (and/or pay the damages) of his visit. Occasionally the rewards will be too great, and at that point he becomes dangerous. Calrissian gambled that Vader would settle for the Rebels and leave his operation on Bespin alone — he was wrong in that gamble, and the others suffered for it.

The Bureaucrat
The most irritating of opponents is one you can’t directly hurt. The bureaucrat is that type, in that fighting them requires time, effort, and most of all knowledge.

The bureaucrat is a non-violent opponent that may not (initially) mean any direct harm to the heroes themselves. He is the venal politician seeking to feather his own nest, or the trader charging too much for wares, or regional governor who is skimming the top off Imperial taxes for his own retirement. Usually these types cross the heroes’ path by accident – the heroes suffer from the bureaucrats’ short-term decisions, or are cheated by some scam or are subjected to some oppressive regulation. Only over time does a bureaucrat become a dedicated enemy.

Watto the Toydarian is a slightly comic example of a bureaucratic foe. He has a wonderful collection of precious junk, any one piece of which would be worth a king’s ransom. Of course, he asks for a king’s ransom for any of it, and proves to be unmoved by pleas, threats, and other non-monetary contributions.

At a higher and less humorous level is a customs officer that demands bribes in order to protect ships from “sudden inspections”. The first time the heroes refuse to slip some credits under the table they find their ship coming under a rigorous inspection, and themselves cited and fined for numerous small violations.

Neither Watto nor the customs officer know or care about the heroes and their actions at this point – they are both proceeding on business as usual for themselves. They have institutionalized their actions so that their abuse of the market (or of the traders) are nothing more than business as usual. Only when someone rebels against their way of doing things do they pay attention.

The heroes are usually put into the position of being attacked in a non-violent manner. If they react violently (attacking Watto or the officer), they are the aggressors, and the heroes are the ones at fault. Bureaucratic villains make a lot of noise about “rights” and “the law”, but always when it benefits them. A number of crimelords fly under false flag of legitimate enterprise, and can be considered bureaucratic villains.

The way to defeat the bureaucratic villain is with his or her own tools – knowledge and power. Gathering information on the customs officer and reporting it up the chain of command may result in that officer’s demotion. Beating Watto at a bet (causing him to lose money, his most precious possession) is the way to defeat the Toydarian.

Often the bureaucratic villain will have minions of his own, often ringleaders or thugs. Should the heroes prove to be too successful with their efforts, he can call them into play to “deal with the problem”. In such cases, the bureaucrat may be giving the heroes the tools they need to embarrass and dispose him – a captured ringleader that will rat to the authorities is often the very weapon to bring down such a villain. Indeed, once a bureaucratic villain reaches for physical solutions to his problems (like, say, bounty hunters), the gloves are off, and the heroes may react accordingly.

Sometimes the bureaucrat cannot be attacked, only endured. Should the heroes earn the enmity of a corrupt senator, they will suddenly find themselves at odds with the Republic itself. Inspectors snoop around their ships and their homes. They find themselves under obvious surveillance, and the senator’s allies no longer welcome them. In such a case, the heroes have two likely choices – either relocating out to the Galactic Rim, or coming to terms with the senator (perhaps a small favor, or a minor mission) and settling accounts. This in turn provides a springboard to new adventures.

The Personal Villain
Not all bad guys are necessarily bad, or rather; they are not equally bad to everyone. Some people have personal enemies – rivals or foes that exist primarily for they themselves. The villain in question doesn’t worry about the others – they are instead focused on one opponent in particular.

Personal villains have a grudge, either real or imagined, against one individual in particular. That person may have cheated (or have been perceived to have cheated) the villain, or hurt the villain in some way. As a result, the villain is motivated by revenge against that one individual. Only the strength of that hatred will determine the lengths to which the villains will go to deal with his nemesis.

Jabba the Hutt is an excellent example as a personal villain of Han Solo’s. the Hutt had little concern about the Rebellion or the Force or plots of Emperor Palpatine’s. However, Jabba considered it unforgivable that Han Solo would dump a load of his spice and cut out without paying him. As a result Jabba put a price on Han’s head so large that it attracted the attention of a number of bounty hunters, including Boba Fett. Jabba wanted Solo made an example of, so others would not think of letting the Hutt down. Once he had acquitted the smuggler from Fett, he displayed Han, frozen in carbonite block, in his palace.

The case of Jabba the Hutt is illustrative because it also shows the inherent weakness of a personal villain. Jabba did not take into account Han’s allies, and while he captured Luke, Leia, and Chewie while they were trying to rescue Han, he underestimated their abilities and paid for that error with his life.

Over the course of adventuring, the heroes will have numerous opportunities to gain a personal villain. Indeed, going back to the Thug that Got Away, a personal villain may develop over time, graduating from one type of villain to the next. Against a group of heroes, a personal villain is a singular threat, as the heroes must pull together to protect one of their own.

The Organization Villain
One of the most nefarious type of villains is the one without a face. If your opponent is not a person but rather an organization, it is much more difficult to defeat. The Black Sun crime syndicate, the various Hutt clans, even the Empire itself is all examples of an organization as a villain.

Some organizations are structured like a pyramid – taking out the highest level will often cause the rest to fall. The problem may be in identifying and reaching that highest level – The Emperor himself is hardly available on a regular basis. Often the leaders of an organization are masterminds, hidden from view, and can bring the organization’s entire resources to bear on those that challenge it.

More frustrating are dispersed organizations, such as the Trade Federation or the Imperial Remnant following the Emperor’s death. Destroying one leader or group of leaders does not cause the entire structure to fall apart. A particular plan may be defeated, a particular plot may be derailed, but the organization remains.

Sometimes defeating the organization villain may prove hazardous, as the organization provides some level of security and protection for an area. Removing a particularly noxious Hutt family from power does little good if there are three other Hutt families just waiting in the wings. Often heroes will have to choose between the less of two (or more) evils.

In game terms, this means that a organization villain can produce a regular cast of enemies to deal with. Destruction or defeat of one group does not entirely remove the threat of the villain. Indeed, Organization Villains can learn from mistakes of earlier parts of that organization, and plan accordingly to deal with interlopers and pesky heroes.

The Living Weapon
Everything is focused into their abilities, be they combat, force-related, or both. A Living Weapon villain is little more than a tool to be released on an unsuspecting (or slightly suspecting) world. It has a mission, usually set by the Mastermind.

As a character, the living weapon is little more than a collection of stats gathered to one particular end. Most GM Characters have some level of balance to them, while a living weapon has dedicated itself to a particular mode of attack. It is a combat monster, either in melee, with missile weapons, or with the power of the Force itself. Skills that are not directly related to its nature are not considered. Knowledge skills only exist to help it hunt its prey better, and Craft skills only to help it with its weaponry.

The living weapon is not subtle by any means, nor does it need to be. Others exist to research, to explore, and to develop. The living weapon’s purpose is to destroy its opposition.

Given the nature of the living weapon, it is unlikely that the heroes will encounter him directly more than once, and then only at the climax (or near-climax) of the adventure. One way to set the stage for the final encounter is to have the living weapon style of villain strike around the heroes – destroying their ships, their allies, their friends, before moving into the kill itself. Sometimes a living weapon will attack a hero’s allies in order to draw the heroes out, to force them to come after the living weapon and fight him on his terms.

The Living Weapon moves through the universe, pushing its reputation ahead of it like the bow wave of a ship. Usually there will be only one combat with the living weapon, but it will be a powerful combat. The living weapon will choose its time and its place to battle its foe. Unlike the good bad-guy, the living weapon is rarely bound to a code other than hatred and violence – it is an unstoppable juggernaut of destruction.

The best known of such villains is Darth Maul, whose hatred of the Jedi has be carefully cultivated by Darth Sidious, such that he is an expert foe, capable of holding off two Jedi in a single combat.

The Mastermind
The ultimate villain is the one who lurks behind the curtain – the mastermind. This is the brains of the operation, who pulls all the strings and moves both heroes and villains across the stage at his whim. This one is the planner, the initiator of atrocities, who serves his own ends and his own ends only. He is the ultimate ringleader, the force behind the organizational evil. Unlike the bureaucrat, he is very aware of the evil he commits – indeed, it is all part of his greater plan.

Masterminds always have a plan, have an ultimate goal. They are willing to endure much, even temporary setbacks, in order to achieve these goals.

Reputation means little to the mastermind – it is a side benefit to his growing power. A mastermind would be willing to hide behind the mask of a trusted ally or an innocuous bureaucrat, but only if that eventually leads him to power.

The greatest villains of the Galaxy are masterminds. Darth Sidious lives for the destruction of the Jedi, and has Darth Maul as his living weapon. The Emperor wishes nothing less than the domination of the universe itself under his iron grip.

Deception is a common tool for the Mastermind. The Emperor allowed the plans for the second Death Star to reach the Rebels, and created the impression that the battle station was unfinished, when in truth it was fully operational. The mastermind is willing to do his homework in order to play the unexpected card, to not only defeat his heroes, but to crush both their spirits and the bodies.

Masterminds are rarely met in the flesh, at least not at first. They may not be seen at – only their minions are visible. The heroes may take out his crime syndicate, or that slaving ring, and only over time realize that it is all part of some larger scheme.

When the mastermind is first seen, it may be through holographic transmissions, giving orders to their minions. Even then they work in the shadows, half-seen, completely feared even by those that follow them. They have a wide array of resources available – all the other villains types can be made as their lackeys.

Masterminds are patient as well. They will grow their plots, insinuating a spy in the midst of allies to gain their trust, or letting the heroes attack one part of their operation in order to keep them away from another. A mastermind always feels that he is in control of the situation, is always three moves ahead of his opposition.

Indeed, that need for control can often spell disaster for the mastermind villain, and makes them vulnerable. The wheels within the wheels can take some level of change, but sudden, unexpected attacks can derail them. A ‘setback’ may send the mastermind off licking his or her wounds, but it is a vulnerability that the heroes may exploit to wreck the mastermind’s ultimate plan.

Masterminds are excellent at having an escape route planned from normal combats, and are willing to sacrifice followers, minions, and other resources in order to live another day. A final battle with a mastermind usually occurs close to the fruition of his or her plan, when the mastermind needs to be on the scene (and also when victory is within their grip). In that final battle, the Mastermind will use every power at his or her disposal to deal with the heroes once and for all. No pity will be asked, for none will granted.

Growing Your Villians Along Side Your Heroes
The type of villains the heroes encounter will be determined in part by their own experience and interests. Early on, their foes would be of the thug variety, both with and without ringleaders. As they advance in levels, more powerful groups are discovered, and with that linkage between the groups as well. Soon the collected Thugs may belong to a larger organization, like Black Sun, which is in turn lead by a shadowy mastermind.

As the heroes develop, they begin to attract their own personal enemies as well, both as individuals, and as a group. Bounty hunters or living weapons may be sent out from the mastermind to “deal with the problem.” This becomes part of the greater story of the heroes as the conflicts grow.

Another idea to keep in mind with your villains as your players gain in power and experience: Your heroes are not static – neither should be your villains. When first encountered, he or she may be little more powerful than the heroes – perhaps a level above or so above. In future encounters, the bad guy may gain a level for every two that the heroes pick up. This accomplishes two things – it keeps the villain’s chance of survival high in case of a direct combat, but it also keeps the players on their toes – they knew that this bounty hunter was of one power level when they met her months before in the campaign, but cannot say for sure if the villain is still at that level.

Not every encounter should be tied back to one particular villain or group of villains. While the heroes may have one great foe, be in the Empire, the Black Sun Network, or even the minions of a Hutt family, there is always room for others. Breaking from one group of villains to another provides an interesting break, as the same tactics that work at eluding bounty hunters may be less effective in dealing with the hired legions of the Corporate Sector Authority.

The more powerful figures may often be defeated but not slain. They may flee, like Darth Vader after the destruction of the death star, to return more powerful on another day. They may also survive by the “obscure death rule” – A villain may be defeated, but the body is not found. Either it disappears (over a convenient edge of the cliff), or is taken (by loyal servants), or the heroes are prevented from making sure that the villain is well and truly dead. In these cases, the heroes may have bought themselves a respite form the villains predations, but the villain may yet return to plague them again. If you as the GM wish to restore one of your villains in such a manner give the heroes a break for some time – it cheapens their victory if Darth Vader reappears too suddenly after his apparent death.

Also, should the heroes have been responsible for upsetting a major plot a mastermind, that villain would become a personal villain for all those involved. Yes, the galaxy must be subdued, and brought under a tyrannical heel, but first those that destroyed the villain’s last plot must be dealt with. The mastermind may move behind the scenes, manipulating events until he is at last ready to strike against the heroes who cause his downfall.

As a final note, there is always the chance, regardless of careful planning and contingencies, that the heroes will get the drop on your choice bad guy and take him out. After a deadly, final lightsaber duel, your living weapon lay in two pieces on the floor, the mastermind dead from a Wookiee’s hug. Your heroes are triumphant, which make them feel pretty good, but you’ve lost a mastermind.

Just remember two words: Clone Vats. There’s always another chance in the game. Let the heroes have their celebration. You will always have more villains to throw at them.

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