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12 villain archetypes to choose from


Creating a believable villain can be difficult. A villain needs a sensible cause (click here for an article about that), and they need to be credible (click here for tips about that too). You might find you need a bit of inspiration for creating a good villain, so here’s a list of 12 villains created by Johnn Four from RoleplayingTips to get you started:

1) Elder Being

A survivor of an ancient race and now wants to ruin the PCs’ world. This type of villain is often imprisoned, and uses the PCs to escape.

2) Snubbed Sibling

Villain is the brother or sister of a PC. Their evil actions come from feelings of inadequacy, entitlement, or envy of the PC.

3) Evil Clown

Comedic, caustic, killer. Don’t let the makeup smile fool you, this villain plays for keeps and his main goal is to inspire fear. Consider adding elements of the absurd and horrific in equal measure.

4) Femme Fatale

Uses sexuality and seduction to get her way. Her motives come from abuse, hunger for power, or revenge against a PC.

5) Mad Scientist

Tapping into our societal abhorrence at playing god, this super-smart villain has dire technology the PCs must counter. Typical stances include insane, eccentric, and bumbling genius turned evil or tricked into doing evil things.

6) Psychotic

The villain has two minds. The first lets him brilliantly plan and plot against the world with a good chance his clever plans will succeed. The second is tainted by madness and broken with reality, meaning motives and behaviours are unpredictable and irrational.

7) Power mad

They want more power for its own sake, because of low self-esteem, or to prove something to a PC.

8) Dark God

An evil or underworld deity with nefarious plans. Sometimes a demon or fallen god looking for retribution or return to glory. A great villain to spawn cults or evil empires.

9) Evil Empire

The society itself is the villain as the PCs try to survive or defend others against prejudice, oppression, and disregard for life. People are just property for the system to chew up. Give the empire a “face” via oppressive dictator, debased nobility, or gluttonous merchant class.

10) Killer Frenemy

The bad guy is an ally who secretly plots against a PC.

11)Vengeful One

Spurned or betrayed, the villain now seeks revenge against a person or group formerly close to them.

12) Nemesis

The villain cannot be overcome through direct means. He’s too powerful, smart, or resourceful. Instead, defeat must come through a secret weakness, such as taking advantage of the villain’s ego or susceptibility to elven metal.

This list appeared in Johnn’s RPT #653 which you can read here. We’ve also posted many articles about villains, here’s some of my favourites: