It takes a special kind of person to be the villain. They don’t have to BE evil. They just have to act that way. More than that, however, they must have the mental fortitude and maturity to be actively disliked or even hated. It isn’t an easy path to walk, although great villains make it look easy.
What makes a great villain?
Some will say it is an individual’s nature that makes them a villain. In other words, I am a bad guy (or girl, rather) simply because I am a vampire and everyone knows vampires are villains. We have been for centuries.
I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that vampires or shape shifters or even monsters are all villains anymore than I believe all humans are heroes or heroines. Species does not dictate good or evil. Choices and behavior do.
We are all capable of choosing evil and playing the villain.
True villains just make that choice more frequently than the rest of us. Sometimes they choose evil out of necessity. But to truly be a villain, you choose evil not because you have to but because you want to. That’s a huge difference.
Why would anyone want to be a villain? You may as well ask why anyone would want to be a hero. Neither is likely to get what they deserve. For the most part, however, villains enjoy more of the trappings or success (wealth, beauty, power, lovers) than heroes do. In many ways, villains are more interesting than heroes, primarily because there are so few of them, at least on Twitter.
In order to be a good, and by that I mean believable, consistent and interesting, villain, you really have to know your character. More than most RP personalities, villains have to hit the ground running with a solid back story and motivations. These don’t have to be public knowledge but the role-player behind the villain needs to know them.
Motivation is the key to every villain. A truly great villain will have several layers of motivation. The overt one everyone sees. The personal one, which is how the villain explains their actions/choices to themselves. The subconscious one that they may not even realize themselves. in addition, most villains have triggers, or life events that may, or may not, explain why a villain acts like they do.
Knowing your character and what moves them to behave as they do is only part of the battle. You also have to know you are going to be actively disliked. “Love to hate” sounds much friendlier and easy to bear than the reality.
The reality is you are going to be attacked IC and OCC. You’re going to be called names, insulted and ostracized. People may refuse to talk to you. Some may refuse to participate in SLs with you. They may spread rumors about you or your character or both. And you’re going to have to take it. you can growl about it or snarl over it but ultimately, the abuse is part of being a villain. A great villain is prepared for this and won’t let it get to them. The truth is, the better villain you are, the more hated you will be. Think about that before creating a villain character.
There are so great villains on Twitter. @WereWitchHallow, @RoqueBlackwood, @Jezebel _Hell and @Rene_LenierTB are just a few of them. They make SLs and RP more fun and engaging. And the next time you see them, take a minute to appreciate the hard work that goes into being a great villain. Don’t hate them because they are good at it.