Bring out your dead!
There was a poll and discussion going on recently at EnWorld regarding how people feel about having the bad guys in their game brought back from the dead. Depending on the genre it’s a common enough trope, however like anything else it can become stale if used too much.
It’s one thing if you are playing a Supers game and the villain doesn’t really die in the first place. How often in the comics does it turn out that the hero’s arch-nemesis appears to be killed, but it turns out he initiated an elaborate escape plan that saved him at the last moment? And let’s not forget the ever popular “it was a clone/robot all along”, while the BBEG was snugly secured away in his fortress of eeeeevil. But even in the Supers genre this starts to become a bit too much for me.
When I think of the possibility of bringing back a dead villain in a game I run, I like to think about the bigger picture that surrounds the villain in both the world and story. The first thing I consider is whether or not the villain’s minions want to bring him back. Even if explicit instructions have been left behind, how loyal are the minions? And do any of them have ambitions of their own that might outweigh their master’s wishes?
The next thing I mull over is whether or not there is someone else who would want the villain to stay dead, who also has the power to make it happen. Is there another villain that might have seen the dead one as a threat to their own plans? Perhaps this is a great opportunity for them to roll in and wipe out the dead villains remaining forces, insuring that none are left to make any attempt at bringing them back.
Overall, I think taking a broader view of the situation rather than just arbitrarily resurrecting a dead villain can make your game world a more vibrant and living place. Unless of course you just want to mess with your players’ heads!
What do you think?