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Vincent Arebalo
Vincent Arebalo's picture
Villan Math

I feel as though I am missing some of the mathematical nuances of Villain development:

Whatever villain strength I go with, is that villain's initial influence infrastructure to be paid out of the initial points? Or, should I provide him with infrastructure in addition to the starting value? [It seems to me that the villain would not be very influencial in the former case, and likley be far too easy to defeat.]

When developing a scheme for a villain, do the influence points dedicated to the scheme go toward the people (brute squad), places (secret lair), and things (bribes) that execute that scheme? Or, are the influence points, dedicated to the scheme, an arbitrary separate value from the points that it would take to buy the people, places, and things to execute it?

Thank you ahead for the guidance,

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Salamanca's picture
I am of the mind that my villains will have what they need outside of influence spending on their first appearance. My thinking is that the heroes have stumbled on them in the middle of a plan and their strength/influence rank reflects their current standing. After that, the heroes know them and can work to weaken them. The influence that goes into a scheme later powers the plan AND buys lackeys to help (brutes and other benefits) if they win, they keep those. If they lose but the heroes don't make a direct effort to remove those benefits, they could return for free too. (Arresting the brutes, turning them against the bad guy or chasing them across a border). There is also no reason that a villain can't occasionally be up to something with no influence invested. If he is just robbing a noble to fund something or being violent for the sake of it, there is a chance that no influence is invested at all.
Antti Kautiainen
Antti Kautiainen's picture

There is no answer for this, as Villain mechanics is not made for build points.

You have several options:

- The Villain have had plenty of successful schemes building his empire, thus he has gained influence, which he has invested to the empire and spent. Thus the villain has several henchment with their own strength, influence, and power structures to rely on. He is the head of big business.

- The Villain is new kid in the block, thus he has nothing, but his reputation to start with. This is good way to go with henchmen.

And anything between those. In my opinion, influence only tells the current influence of Villain which the villain may spend on resources, or invest on plots.

Harry Keller
Harry Keller's picture



Hi Vincent, thats's a  good question.

I personally for a game like to be prepared with my villains, and stat them appropriately.

Thus, when I created a villain, I chose a Villainy Rank, then split their Strength and Influence as I saw fit.

I then "spent" some Influence, purchasing a couple of Brute Squads, a point on Bribery, and a few extra points to invest in the dastardly scheme the players have to thwart.

As a long time D&D/Pathfinder GM, it was a natural occurrence for me to spend "XP" (or Influence in 7th S) curating an encounter and all the trappings it needs to support it.

On my Villian sheet, I have listed

Strength 2

Influence (Starting) 8

Influence (Current) 3

Invested 2 in Brute Squads

Invested 1 in Bribery (Person X)

Invested 2 in Scheme X 

Total Investment 5 / Payback 10

This works for me, and makes the Villain dynamic in terms that JW recommended (Taking bites out of the Villain one at a time).

The Villian could still invest in a Bodyguard or more Brute squads if necessary.

I use the framework much like an XP budget to ensure I don't go crazy and over spend making the Villain over powerful, but leaving a little left for contingency planning.

And of course, Danger Points can always help in emergencies too.

I hope this organic approach helps give you some ideas. 




Andrés Stein
Andrés Stein's picture

Here I officialy thank you for laying this out as clearly as this. I was having some issues envisioning how to lay these things out in a fitting manner.

Harry Keller
Harry Keller's picture

As a side comment, it could be said that my Villian is now quite weak, as he rolls Villainry Rank for dice (In the case above, 5, instead of 10)

If you wanted to bump him up a bit, and most Villain's don't act in isolation and garner support from others, I could have done the following.

Strength 2

Influence (Starting) 8

Influence (Current) 6

2 Brute Squads on loan from Ally x (Oh look, another NPC to throw in to the mix)

1 in Cahoots with Person X who lent their support willingly and wants a slice of the pie

Invested 2 in Scheme X (Influence 8-2 = 6)

Total Investment 2 / Payback 4

You can slice it whichever way you like, really !



Vincent Arebalo
Vincent Arebalo's picture

Harry, Salamanca -

Thank you for the responses! My follow-up response, due in part to what was not said and to the very different viewpoints expressed by the two of you, is that there does not seem to be a rules specific answer to the questions I posed. Rather, JW seems to have left it somewhat open ended. Both of your responses seem reasonable and internally consistent, but they are very different. I would, just off the top of my head and with no actual 7thS play experience to back it up, tend to a middle ground between the two answers: Start the villain at what ever power I feel she needs to be, with whatever assets appropariate and a possible scheme or two in hand and then enter into the math of influence gain/loss due to interaction with the heroes in the story.

As usual John seems to have created some very functional, crunchy even, mechanics that are not overly baked, but I feel that I could use more lengthy descriptions of their use. Not having them, however, I would tend to what I expressed above.


Salamanca's picture
I think you are on the right track with that plan. My only real shift from Harry's ideas are to not reward influence payback on points spent to hire goons or make bribes. (Or if I do, it will simply be a refund of the points spent because a 10 point villain with 5 influence should not suddenly jump to 15, it's too big of a leap for stat balance).
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