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*NOTE* This is my personal opinion and should be taken as such. nem•e•sis ( P ) Pronunciation Key (nm-ss) n. pl. nem•e•ses (-sz) A source of harm or ruin: Uncritical trust is my nemesis. Retributive justice in its execution or outcome: To follow the proposed course of action is to invite nemesis. An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome. One that inflicts retribution or vengeance. Nemesis Greek Mythology. The goddess of retributive justice or vengeance. Throughout the history of story telling the single most important factor that separates the great from the lame is the nemesis, AKA bad guy, AKA arch enemy, and so on. If you are going to develop any kind of action game or RPG, you are going to need a story. Just as good action novels require a hero with a seemingly impossible objective and an enemy that can provoke anger, hatred, and dread, so too do good role playing games. First I would like to state what this article is not. It is not a blueprint for making a specific character type. It will not teach you the finer points of psychology. It won’t create your game for you, and lastly it won’t write your story for you. What I hope to achieve in this writing is to broaden the view that is taken when writing your background stories, namely the bad guy. It is easy to wonder why we wouldn’t want to focus on the hero(s) of the game but this is easily explained. Simply, the nemesis of your world is the only reason you have a game or story. Imagine a story where the hero has nothing important to overcome and ask yourself if you would be interested in following the story. That sounds pretty boring to me. So we come up with a name for an evil character, claim that he or she is evil, and expect our players to kill monsters until the hero vanquishes the bad guy, right? Wrong! If you are not going to spend the time and mold your villain to embody everything a rational person will love to hate, you will not be convincing. One of the most important, if not THE most important factor involved in creating the villain is the personality. You must make your nemesis provoke strong emotions by giving him or her convincing personalities. Not only do you need to convince the audience that the nemesis believes strongly in what he or she is doing, but you must also make your audience understand that the nemesis will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who opposes his or her version of the truth. One common mistake authors make when constructing a villain, is to just assume that the audience will understand the nemesis is evil just because the author tells them it is so. This is true in part but unless the audience can relate the bad guy with actions they believe to be evil you will have a problem gaining sympathy for the hero and his mission. Goes back to the saying, “If you are going to save the people of the world, make sure they want to be saved”. People relate to personalities; we relate to good and evil in different ways. Bad guys often have some appealing characteristics just as heroes often have characteristics that are annoying. It isn't the pure good or evil of a character that sells the crowd but a complex combination of both which brings a sense of reality and balance to the character. Let’s take a look at arguably one of the best nemesis in the history of bad guys. Darth Vader! You may disagree but let’s take a look under the hood. On the surface Darth was the embodiment of dark power, and his presence alone demanded respect. When you heard the tell tale music and the breathing you knew he was there. After his dark introduction we were given a glimpse through the shroud of evil into his belief system. Once you get in the mind of the sith you find a complex tangle of right and wrong, and sense of good and bad. At no time did Darth Vader consider himself to be evil. His use of the dark side of the force was justified by the goals he believed to be righteous. While power and a fanatical perception of the way he believed things should be were very powerful influences in his actions, his ties to family made this commanding presence seem a bit more human. In the end you know how it turned out but take a minute to try and pick out the single most important aspect of his personality which made him the perfect nemesis . . . Ok, that was about a minute. Did you come up with the simple answer? Of course you did. He was more than pure darkness; he was a rational personality who truly believed his views were right. Perception therefore was the determining factor and can be the hardest part for the author to impart to his/her audience. If you want to create a truly believable nemesis, you must create a personality who acts in believable ways based on what they may believe is a rational thought process, regardless of how out of whack with reality that may be. For instance, if we have a world in which it is against the common ideology, also called truth, to kill for any reason but our nemesis sees that as the only way to achieve his objective, which in his/her mind is logical and just; we have the start of a rational thought process. First we must ensure there is a logical progression towards that end. What is the objective they hope to achieve? How does the actions of the nemesis progress that objective? To say the only thing the bad guy does is to kill does not answer why or how. Why did he kill? What objective did it achieve? Basically, there should be reason behind the action even if it is not immediately apparent to the audience or the action becomes senseless. Even if the reason is terror, it is still a reason although I would not use that option since it is very easy to mistake suspense for gratuitous violence. The more realistic your nemesis is in thought patterns and actions, the easier it will be for the audience to bond with the hero and their cause. In closing, if you want to find out how to succeed in making a terrible villain, create one that does evil acts for no other reason than to do them. Your villain will not impart a sense of foreboding or doom leaving your hero faced with a quest of mediocrity.

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