praguepride
 member, 1396 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Tue 14 May 2019
at 05:26
Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
I am trying to run a super villain game and i want a unique mechanic that gives real reasons for players to commit capers. Why should they rob a bank or steal a monument or break into a research lab?

I am thinking that capers can generate resources (money, tech, or vice). You spend those resources on things like finding more lucrative capers, bribing organizations (cops, street gangs, politicians), death trap or doomsday device components etc. Nothing mechanical but spending resources lets you influence the story. Now the cops will look the other way or you can have thugs as backup or you can escalate the story with a doomsday weapon.

First of all any recommendations for “organization building”. There is the d&d/pathfinder down time systems but I would prefer something more super hero focused.  I know there are villain RPGs like Better Angels but I dont know if they involve organization/base building.

Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated
icosahedron152
 member, 955 posts
Tue 14 May 2019
at 06:18
Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
One of the chapters of the Stars Without Number game deals with the concept of Factions. Something like that could be poached to represent gangs, police, politicians, hero groups, feds, etc.

It's been a while, but IIRC, each faction engages in certain courses of action that raise its wealth, reach and influence. Those actions can form a rationale for adventures and role-play.

Your faction may decide to engage in an expansion activity, which will provide a rationale for trying to take over a rival gang, for example, or it might need to increase its wealth rating, so a bank robbery could be on the cards. If the faction needs to raise its influence, it could try to get a politician in its pocket or engage in some audacious scheme that grabs media attention.

There are rules for allocating points to a HQ and satellite bases, which divide your assets but allow more diversification.

The rules are fairly simple and abstract. They may not work out of the box, but could form the basis of a system with a few tweaks. I think there's a basic version of SWN available free.

Otherwise, I'd look for mobster games and adapt them to the modern age.
DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1560 posts
Tue 14 May 2019
at 07:52
Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
Why do you need a mechanic to give players reasons to go on a caper?

Consider real criminals. They go on capers for several reasons, inability to get a job that pays the bills, they find it easy (when they don't have supers/cops catching them in the act), they have something to prove (to the people being stolen from, or the cops/world in general), etc.

Just include those reasons in the narrative.

It is like death in a game, when death either can't happen or has no meaningful consequences, then players do not fear death in the game. In order to make players fear death in the game, they need two things, to be able and likely to die (at least if they act stupidly) and also need meaningful consequences for death.

The same applies to anything you want to have meaning in the game. There must be meaningful consequences for it.

In this case, give the players meaningful, and bad, consequences for not going on capers, and give them meaningful, and good, consequences for completing capers.

All that is done best narratively, especially if you can get the players to build backstories around such motivations.

Mechanics are not there to motivate players, they are there to facilitate the narrative motivations for the players.
engine
 member, 705 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Tue 14 May 2019
at 14:11
Re: Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
Consequences in games are only as meaningful as players agree to let them be. Death is the least inherently meaningful consequence in RPGs, since players can just make a new character. Only if they've decided to become particularly attached to their characters might it matter.

praguepride:
I am trying to run a super villain game and i want a unique mechanic that gives real reasons for players to commit capers. Why should they rob a bank or steal a monument or break into a research lab?

The above said: Why do super villains in the fiction you're trying to emulate go on heists. In my experience, they have some sort of goal they're trying to accomplish. It's often not a goal that makes any kind of sense, but it's a goal.

These goals, incidentally, are why superhero conflicts are often not really about the villains destroying the heroes, which allows them to be about just slightly more than the supers repeatedly punching each other: because killing the superheroes isn't necessary to the accomplishment of the goal, unless killing them is the only way to keep them from stopping it (which it usually isn't).

praguepride:
I am thinking that capers can generate resources (money, tech, or vice). You spend those resources on things like finding more lucrative capers, bribing organizations (cops, street gangs, politicians), death trap or doomsday device components etc. Nothing mechanical but spending resources lets you influence the story. Now the cops will look the other way or you can have thugs as backup or you can escalate the story with a doomsday weapon.

This is really no different from what heroes might want, just inverted on the moral spectrum. Where heroes are trying to build unity, trust and order, maybe, villains are (and I'm not trying to be topical here) trying to build loyalty, paranoia and chaos. The mission might be completely identical: break into a facility and steal a McGuffin. When the heroes do it, they are saving the day, keeping a dangerous dohickey out of the hands of evildoers, and making everyone feel safer. When the villains do it, they are endangering the populous, and casting everything into doubt. How are the heroes rewarded? Give the same reward to the villains, just reflavored.

I'll say this though: villains don't actually tend build their bases, or whatever, in fiction. They come on the scene fully formed. We don't see how Lex Luthor rises from humble beginnings; he already has the lab, and the minions and the earthquake device and he only needs one more piece to put it all together. We don't (prequels aside) see how the Empire starts from a cadre of corrupt politicians and warlords, we just see the fully formed Death Star, ready to go.

Villains are the heroes of their own stories. What this would do, I think, is really just highlight that, so what you're left with is really just the usual hero game, with a palette swap.

praguepride:
First of all any recommendations for “organization building”. There is the d&d/pathfinder down time systems but I would prefer something more super hero focused.  I know there are villain RPGs like Better Angels but I dont know if they involve organization/base building.

If I were going to do this, I might emulate the base building in XCOM. If XCOM needs a new room, it takes time and money, but it also takes research, special materials, power and workers. All of those needs can be met, or met more easily, by taking on specific missions.

praguepride:
Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated

Talk to your players. They'll tell you what would make sense to them and what they'd support and help make better.

Good luck.
tibiotarsus
 member, 41 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Sat 18 May 2019
at 07:58
Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
Unique, you say? How about a nonspecific (or, pending 'you were working for X all along!' reveals, a specific) chaos deity who'll grant more powers/influence/luck the wackier and more disruptive the PCs are. If they're successful enough, the deity might actually have enough source power to break  through the walls of the world and restore balance to a cape 'verse by distributing free, contagious powers and/or tentacles to the Proletariat. They may also destroy civilisation, but eh.

Bonus points if the mechanic is at first so subtle the players just think you're being generous and fail to catch the hints that they have a patron rewarding bombastic hijinks until they hurl those supers into a convenient acid vat and summon that.
12th Doctor
 member, 93 posts
 Laugh Hard. Run Fast.
 Be kind.
Sat 18 May 2019
at 15:17
Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
Villains all have their own reasons for wanting to do things, same as heroes. Dr. Doom, the Red Skull, Lex Luthor, and the Joker are all completely different in their motivations, but all can justify their behavior if asked. The better question might be "Why are these villains joining forces?" I agree with the previous posters who said you should ask the players why they would team up. The easiest answer is that each one brings something to the table that makes it easier/more likely for each individual villain to further their own goals.

Good luck!
tibiotarsus
 member, 43 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Tue 21 May 2019
at 07:25
Idea for Villain Game Mechanic
Alternatively, make a list of how much things cost e.g. 'incompetent minion, 20$ a job' and give discounts according to how well a villain has managed to develop their brand. So starting out, a competent minion might be over budget, but two incompetent ones might agree to do it on spec for the cred of working with Axe Nicely because they've heard of her and know she'll make them matching outfits; the heist succeeds, actual useful criminals start taking notice, there's gradually enough skills to build a base...and buying a boring old warehouse legitimately with all the paperwork is more risk/cost than accepting the offer from Crazy Fred of Fred's Axe Barn, and so on. Should encourage both robbery ('you need just $30 more to be able to afford a death ray!') and cartoonish super villainy rather than normal crime for normal reasons.