3 Step Villain Plot Seeds

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0935

Thanks to the horde who wrote in saying the mini-plot generator from last week was useful. I love the feedback! Quick hacks like those help make the tough job of GMing a bit easier.

RPT GM Patrick Richert responded with a great technique he uses to figure out villain plot seeds. Maybe you will find it helpful too.

Quick Villain Plot Seed Maker


The mini plots idea dovetails into a screenwriter and actor tool. Every action can be boiled down to three things:

  • What does the character want?
  • When do they want it?
  • What are they willing to do to get it?

This works mostly for a villain-centric plot idea. It can be quick, but it leads to many other ideas as you cascade down.

For example:

  1. Wants to steal the glorious geegaw
  2. Needs it before the next full moon, only 10 days away
  3. Willing to do anything that doesn’t overtly cross the law

From this you now have the framework to build out the actual actions, encounters, and events that will happen as the villain tries to get the geegaw.

This also sets the stage for changes in any one of the three things as the PCs interfere.

The villain gets the word that the formidable PCs are going to be on guard in five days, so has to adjust the “When do they want it?”

That in turn can change the “What are they willing to do to get it?” Now, maybe, they’re willing to do something more drastic.

This method provides motivation for villains, entities, even nature. It can also be used for characters.

It’s a very easy thing to keep track of, and if a DM gets stuck on how something reacts, they can fall back on this as a guideline.

Great approach, Patrick. Thanks for sharing.

I tried it out myself and whipped up three quick ideas in Campaign Logger.