Revolving Door Villains

"That will be 25,000 gp worth of diamonds, please."

"That will be 25,000 gp in diamonds, please."

There’s a running joke that in high-magic fantasy games, death is naught but a revolving door and the party cleric is the doorman.  I haven’t played much 4e myself, but I’ve heard many of the epic-level abilities start out “Once per day, when you die…”  If there’s a bigger way to hang the “death doesn’t matter” out for everyone to see, I haven’t found it yet.

What about villains, though?  Unless everyone is playing a pulp-style adventure, having the villain inexplicably escape every time he’s encountered can seem contrived and simple GM-fiat, but can the revolving door be used as a plot device to present the players with a unique challenge?


BACKSTAB! +4, x5

Sometimes getting a group of characters emotionally invested in their adversaries can be tricky.  There are tried and true methods like having the adversary take something (or someone) of value from the characters but if done poorly it can come off as an uncreative cookie-cutter set up.  Not only can it fail to get the players invested, it can actually divest them from the plot as well.

wizThere’s also the issue of the omnipotent adversary.  Inexperienced gamemasters can fall into the trap of giving their adversaries full knowledge of the party’s actions even if said adversary lacked a sufficient means to gain such information (by spying, scrying, etc).  But again you can run into the trap of the cookie-cutter with things like the traditional wizard with a crystal ball.

When my turn to gamemaster came around in our current game, I decided to use a little trick to get the party invested in one of their adversaries as well as explain why the characters had been oiled in their recent attempts to accomplish their goal.  Unbeknownst to the players, I made one of their characters the adversary.


Refreshed by the Rotating Gamemaster Campaign

I feel that my last few stints in the gamemaster’s chair have been less than successful.  There was something that happened in each campaign that made the game unsatisfying to me.  So when it came to my turn gamemastering in our current rotating gamemaster-style campaign, I was pretty nervous.  Turns out, though, that this particular format bypassed some of my biggest weaknesses as a gamemaster.