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NeoTanuki's picture
Sample 'Henchmen' Villains For Novice Heroes To Face
villains, NPCs

(UPDATE: At Michael Curry and Donovan Morningfire's suggestion, I've upped the Duelist to Villainy 5 (Str 4, Inf 1) and the Brawler to Villainy 6 (Str 6, Inf 0). Thanks for the feedback!)

Greetings, swashbucklers!

For my own 7th Sea game, I wanted to have some quick and ready "beginner level" Villain templates to throw at new and inexperienced Heroes. Not the major Villains of the 15-20 Dice Villainy level that may take an entire campaign to defeat, but some less-powerful lieutenants, henchmen and agents that the players can meet, test their mettle against and develop rivalries and plot threads against for future sessions without getting thoroughly trounced in their first sessions.

So I tried to come up with some general, easy-to-use archetypes that would be easy to tailor to different Heroes' strengths, weaknesses and personalities. I've posted some ideas below. Since I haven't had a chance to test these yet, I'd welcome other GMs and players to weigh in on how suitable you feel these are against small groups of starting players (say, 1-4). And if you have ideas for sample Villain archetypes of your own that you think are good for beginner Heroes, please share!

I'll include the stats, my fictional inspirations for each archetype, and my general intentions on how I want to use each Villain for feedback. The various Advantages, Disadvantages and Arcana are just examples and can easily be changed to tailor to a particular GM's preference. Thanks, and please let me know if you like these and find them helpful. 

The Arrogant Young Duelist: Villainy 5 (Strength 4, Influence 1)
Advantages: Duelist Academy, Fencer
Virtue: Wily (The Fool); Hubris: Proud (The Sun)

Fictional Inspiration: Jussac ("The Three Musketeers"); Humphrey ("Stardust"); Gerard (Disney's "3 Musketeers")

Notes: This is a very low-level Duelist Villain designed to give beginning swordfighting players chances to get into single combats and gain confidence trying out the Dueling rules. The Arrogant Young Duelist is designed to be an annoying but persistent rival to starting players. If a Brute Squad of Guards shows up to arrest or harass the players, it will likely be led by an Arrogant Young Duelist who is their junior officer. If a novice player is trying to start a romance at a gala masked ball, an Arrogant Young Duelist can show up as a rival for the object of the player's affections. The Arrogant Young Duelist can even be used as a rival to a player who's joined a heroic organization such as the Rose and Cross-the snobbish member who belittles the Hero and challenges him/her to prove the player isn't truly worthy of the organization. 

The Arrogant Young Duelist is designed to be more of a challenge to a Hero in a fight than a typical Brute Squad, with a Duelist Academy and the Fencer Advantage to give a bit more 'oomph' in combat, but relatively low Strength to keep the Duelist's Wounds and Raises low and remain fairly easy to defeat. The Wily Advantage allows the GM to have the Duelist escape to face the Heroes another day ("I'll get you next time, Musketeers!") while the Proud Hubris can be played on by heroes to ensure the Duelist doesn't gain an advantage of numbers ("Too scared to face us without your thugs backing you up, eh?"). While he's may be more of a challenge for non-Duelist Heroes, don't forget, he's not all that tough or clever and susceptible to Pressure, Come Hither, a couple of pistols pointed at him, etc., etc. 


The Fearsomely Strong Brawler: Villainy 6 (Strength 6, Influence 0)
Advantages: Boxer, Large,  Hard To Kill, Slip Free
Virtue: Victorious (The War); Hubris: Indecisive (The Hanged Man)

Fictional Inspirations: The Giant Barracks Guard ("The Mask of Zorro"), The Underground Torturer (Disney's "The Three Musketeers"), Fezzik ("The Princess Bride")

Notes: The Fearsomely Strong Brawler is what every Brute on a Brute Squad aspires to be when they grow up. laugh He's the Villain who crashes through a door just as the players are turning the tables in a bar fight and starts throwing full casks of ale at the Heroes. Or who shows up bare-chested in the dungeon where our Heroes our imprisoned and takes a cue from the main Villain to start turning the enormous wheel on the torture device. The big, strong, not-too-clever menace who makes the Heroes wince in anticipated pain before wading into a fight with the Brawler. Like the Arrogant Young Duelist, he may appear leading a squad of Brutes, or looming menacingly behind a higher-ranking Villain as an intimidating bodyguard.

The Fearsomely Strong Brawler is designed to give a reasonable combat challenge that doesn't rely on Dueling. His Strength is good, and Boxer and Large mean he can roll 7 dice in combat. Hard To Kill gives him an extra wound level, making him a bit tougher to take out quickly, and Slip Free reflects him using his mighty strength to snap any bonds that hold him. The Victorious Virtue is designed to make him even more formidable in combat, allowing him to lay a Dramatic Wound on someone once per Scene. But the Brawler is not meant to be invincible. His Hubris reflects the fact that he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and players should be encouraged to come up with non-combat ways to outwit or confuse him to give them an advantage. If you wish, a kindly or attractive character might show friendliness or compassion to a more sympathetic version of the Fearsomely Strong Brawler, awakening a long-forgotten goodness in his heart and turning him to the Heroes' side in an important Scene.


The Seductive Spy: Villainy 6 (Strength 2; Influence 4)
Advantages: Friend at Court, Fascinate, Poison Immunity, Second Story Work
Virtue: Subtle (The Moonless Night); Hubris: Star-Crossed (The Lovers)

Fictional Inspirations: Milady De Winter ("The Three Musketeers"), La Donna/Alessandra Di Santi ("The Alchemist In The Shadows" by Pierre Pevel), Illista ("The Phoenix Guards" by Steven Brust), Angelica De Alquezar ("The Adventures of Captain Alatriste" by Arturo Perez Reverte)

Notes: The Femme Fatale. The Handsome Lecherous Scoundrel. The Seductive Spy is designed as a foil and opponent for socially-focused new Heroes to encounter and clash with at masquerades, dances, and gala parties. The Spy uses charm, good looks and a total lack of scruples to infiltrate the highest levels of society and steal secrets, blackmail nobility and cause all kinds of trouble. 

The Seductive Spy can be trickier to defeat, because the Spy doesn't rely on combat prowess. Instead, the Spy will use Fascinate and Friend at Court to manipulate others into thwarting the Heroes...perhaps by exposing them as uninvited guests ("My dear Comte, how DID these...peasants...gain entry to your manor without invitations")...or getting a swordfighter to issue a challenge to embroil the Heroes in a fight ("You dishonored this lady, dog? I will meet you outside in 10 minutes!")...or even inviting a Hero to a convivial rendezvous and then drugging them with Poison Immunity ("I'm so sorry darling...I put the sleeping draught in BOTH glasses of wine. I've spent six years building up complete immunity to the drug myself. Ta!") 

Depending on the needs of your campaign, the Spy can be a ruthless, deadly agent with an angel's face and a black heart, or a charming rogue who delights in the Heroes' company even as the Spy's schemes give them grief. However, the Spy isn't invincible. The Spy is noticeably weak at physical confrontation, and if unable to manipulate any bystanders into fighting or obstructing the Heroes on the Spy's behalf, is likely to beat a hasty retreat (or call on a senior Villain for legal assistance/bail money). Also, the Spy's Star-Crossed Hubris gives the GM opportunities for a dashing Hero or Heroine to awaken genuine (if reluctant) romantic feelings, causing the Spy to waver from the original mission and maybe even double-cross the Spy's masters if a romance blossoms with a player character. Of course, the Spy should waver a few times, betraying both the players AND the villains more than once before settling on a side! 

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Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
Thank you, for providing such useful resources. I heard newbies telling me that all the work here is really helpful.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Well, I have something silly to add.  Not every 7th Sea game will be deadly serious, of course, and some might choose to add elements of the ridiculous at times.  I have been considering whether running a game of 7th Sea set in Wonderland might be feasible.  Even if I never get around to it, I can at least post this here.


The Inept Duo: Villainy 5 if you count them as a pair (Strength 2 in both cases, Influence 1 shared between the two of them, which they argue about)
Advantages (same for both): Hard to Kill, Patron
Virtue (same for both): Adaptable (Coins for the Ferryman); Hubris (same for both): Confusion (The Moonless Night)

Fictional Inspiration: Tweedledum and Tweedledee (in all their many various incarnations and spinoffs)

Notes: Based on the classic pair of halfwits from Lewis Carroll's stories, this iconic pair are constantly at odds and yet inseparable.  Their hubris of Confusion represents the ease with which characters might exploit an argument between the two, or otherwise get them to start pointlessly debating something inconsequential.  Hard to Kill may seem odd here, until you consider that they each have a Strength of 2 and would otherwise be knocked out at 12 Wounds (now it takes 15, so the duelist at least has to break a sweat).  Patron plays up their role as hapless lackeys to some greater power, usually a much more powerful or influential villain they owe allegiance to (or at least work for).  This also gives them 2 Wealth to play with in addition to their 1 Influence, and when the heroes least expect it, in some social situation or mercantile exchange, the influence of their patron can put them into the scene against all odds.  Finally, their virtue of Adaptable makes them inexplicably in the right place at the right time despite their ineptitude.  Have you ever seen a cartoon or watched a movie where one of the villain's lackeys managed to trip up the hero, throw the lever to slam the castle portcullis shut, or otherwise completely surprise the hero due to luck and surprise?  If the heroes were expecting to trounce this pair in a subsequent encounter before they even have a chance to spend a Raise... think again.  The heroes will trounce them, but not before they've caused some mischief.  They may often lead a Strength 10 Brute Squad by spending their Influence, sometimes more from their patron's assistance.  If they chose to, I think they could hire about 3 more brutes with the 2 Wealth they have available.

As a final note, the duo are not as powerful as a single Strength 4 villain would be most of the time, game mechanics are not in their favor here.  If you're looking for a challenge this isn't it, but some interesting interactions may arise if the duo join forces with other villains in the employ of their patron.  For instance, if an allied villain in some encounter has a virtue of Commanding (The Emperor), they do count as two people for the purpose of the number of Danger points that would be generated.  At some point very late in the campaign, the fog of confusion may finally be lifted from the duo and the heroes might be able to convince them that their patron does not have their best wishes at heart.

NeoTanuki's picture

Nice job, Lord Rumfish! Right away I think this would be a good archetype for characters like the bumbling crewmembers Pintel and Ragetti from "Pirates of the Caribbean". (The hairy guy and his unfortunate sidekick with the wooden eye.)

NeoTanuki's picture

Well, I'm very glad people seem to be finding my initial ideas helpful! Here's another that is more specific to Theah:

The Zealous Inquisitor: Villainy 6 (Strength 3; Influence 3)
Advantages: Staredown, Indomitable Will, Ordained, Connections (Spy Network)
Virtue: Temperate (The Glyph), Hubris: Arrogant (The Tower)

Fictional Inspirations: Inquisitor Pucci (Jeremy Irons' character from the film "Casanova"); Fray Emilo Bocanegra ("The Adventures of Captain Alatriste" by Arturo Perez-Reverte)

Notes: The Inquisition in 7th Sea is a scary organization. Their hatred of sorcery, heresy, science and pretty much everything non-Inquisition makes them useful opponents for a GM looking to challenge Archaeologist players, members of the Invisible College, or members of Los Vagabundos seeking to protect the vulnerable King of Castille.

The Zealous Inquisitor is intended as a starting adversary for such players, who can serve as a chief lieutenant or agent for a major Inquistion-themed senior villain in your campaign. The Zealous Inquisitor is the one who does the legwork tracking down heretics and arresting sorcerors. The Inquisitor's main advantages are strong resistance to bluffing, the ability to quell resistance through Staredown, and information gathered through the Inquisitor's Spy Network. The Inquisitor's zealous faith provides immunity to magic and magical effects at an important point in a Scene, and being Ordained gives a powerful bonus to Social Roles in devoutly Vaticine nations such as Castille. 

A Zealous Inquisitor might be used as a foil for Explorers and Archaeologists, seeking to sieze and destroy any heretical Syrneth artifacts and relics the players are after. Or the Inquisitor could be a dogged foe of Sorcery, seeking to capture a fugitive Fate Witch fleeing Vodacce so she can be tried and burned at the stake. The Inquisitor can fight if necessary, but is more designed to be the Villain initmidating bystanders, interrogating prisoners and putting out rewards to ferret out the hiding places and resources of the Heroes and their allies. The Inquisitor is likely to be accompanied by Brutes for combat support, or perhaps another minor combat-oriented Villain such as the Arrogant Duelist or Fearsome Brawler as a bodyguard.

The Inquisitor's role-playing weakness is arrogance. The Inquisition commands great respect, resources and fear...and this means Inquisitors often underestimate the resourcefulness of their enemies. Make the Inquisitor gloat and spell out his plans if he takes a Hero prisoner. And of course there's no way the Hero will escape the Inquisition, so don't check too closely for hidden knives and lockpicks. Or perhaps the Inquisitor leaves the captured Syrneth artifact on his desk at headquarters, because naturally no Heroes would dare invade the fortress to take it back! (cough, cough). Or maybe the Inquisitor is so confident that an important security precaution is left to the Inquisitor's subordinates, the Inept Duo...a flaw the Heroes can exploit! (Tip o' the hat to Lord Rumfish!) :D

NeoTanuki's picture

Sorry for being away for a bit...been struggling with a nasty cold the past week or so. Here's a new one:

The Obsessed Occultist: Villainy 6 (Strength 2; Influence 4)
Advantages: Sorcery (x2), Signature Item (Magical/Syrneth artifact)
Virtue: Friendly (The Road); Hubris: Envious (The Beggar)

Fictional Inspirations: Rasputin and Ilsa ("Hellboy"), Rene Belloq ("Raiders of the Lost Ark"), Blackbeard ("On Stranger Tides"); Stefan Heilgrund; Vincenzo Caligari ("7th Sea 1st Edition")

Notes: The Obessed Occultist is a Villain who seeks supernatural power and dark knowledge at all costs. The Occultist is a perpetual meddler in Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, eager to obtain dark tomes of arcane lore, ancient artifacts of power, and may even attempt to make contact or dark alliances with monsters or unholy entities. Depending on your campaign, the Occultist might have a number of different motivations, such as secretly dominating others through mystical means, a fixation on learning the secrets of the universe, or a personal goal such as immortality or finding a magical way to save a dying loved one...or even bring that loved one back from the dead at any cost. Another possibility is simple greed...the Occultist might simply enjoy the huge profits that can be earned from obtaining magic and mystical items and selling those secrets to the right buyers.

More than the other archetypes I've posted here, the Occultist's abilities and backstory depend a lot on what nationality you prefer for this Villain. The Occultist is a fairly capable Sorcerer, and has the addtional benefit of a Syrneth or other magical artifact to take on the Heroes. The Friendly Virtue represents a talent for mesmerism that can be used to lull opponents or gain information from them ("Look into the crystal....you want to help me find the Eye of Omnibamba, don't you?" "I...want to help you find the Eye of Omnibamba....") A Vodacce Occultist with Sorte might be a Fate Witch who uses her powers to aid her husband, a smuggler and dealer in black market Syrneth artifacts. A Sarmatian/Curonian Occultist with Sanderis might be a subversive occultist, presenting a respectable facade to the world while secretly making dark bargains with a dievas. A Montaigne might be a ruthless pirate relic hunter and Porte sorcerer who eagerly tears blessures in the fabric of the universe to reach her goals.

The Occultist is a tricky opponent for new Heroes due to the magical resources he/she commands. However, the Occultist's obsession with arcane lore and artifacts can also be turned to the Heroes' advantage through the Envious Hubris-the Occultist will often take unwise risks or make mistakes when a mystical prize is within reach, and the Heroes can be encouraged by the GM to exploit this.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Said this over on reddit, but nice job on these NeoTanuki, and keep up the good work.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

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