I saw these tips in the newsletter RPT#624 by Johnn Four.
#1 – Make the villain invulnerable until the PCs get a specific item that’ll negate his invulnerability so they can kill them
This is a great tip because it ensures that the plot isn’t finished too quickly, and the tension has time to escalate. It also gives the players something clear to do to solve this problem and finish off the villain.
#2 – Never let the PCs actually encounter the villain. Keep them off-camera until the final climactic showdown. Until then, they only meet their agents
I like this tip because it reminds me of 24, where the baddies Jack Bauer encounters are always working for some OTHER villain you haven’t met yet.
These great ideas were written by roleplayer Niles Calder:
The arch villain works from the shadows. The PCs never encounter him directly and he’s always at least three steps ahead of them.
Any agents they do encounter might have information that can bring them a step closer to the arch villain. But only if the PCs leave an agent alive to tell them of it.
The arch villain will turn the PCs’ blood thirstiness against them: nobody trusts the PCs enough to talk to them.
He can also set them up to do his own dirty work: “Yes indeed. You just killed the crown prince on the steps of the royal palace. You know, the guards don’t look too happy about that.”
If the PCs anger the arch villain, then once he’s lost a few groups of henchmen to them he’ll stop attacking them directly. He’ll set them up as above, he’ll destroy their base of operations while they’re away, murder their friends, allies and families, have the MacGuffin snatched out from under their noses. He’ll have every hand in the land turned against them. And, when he finally defeats them, he’ll be the hero and they the villains.
Of course, when they finally work their way up his chain of plots and schemes to confront the arch villain, they’ll find it was the last person they dreamed possible, the one person they thought they could trust.