Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pitching Villains

Swords for Hire Development recently announced an open call where you can pitch up to three villain concepts. If your pitches are accepted, you are paid to design those villains for the Villain Codex, an upcoming product developed by Swords for Hire and published by Outland Entertainment. In this article, I discuss what makes a good pitch.

In my opinion, a pitch should be an overview of the actual entry, highlighting the coolest and most important things about it. A pitch is also a writing sample, so make every word count. My advice is to focus on describing what is exceptional about the villain; what sets him or her apart from other villains. Below are a few ideas of what you can describe in your pitch:
  • The villain's appearance, mannerisms, and personality
  • Any interesting mechanics such as a signature spell, maneuver, or feat (Power Attack or Weapon Finesse probably aren't worth mentioning, but Improved Feint or Spring Attack might be)
  • Preferred tactics
  • Lair and minions
  • Goals and motivations
Below is an example, Kurgax the Sellsword. Please note, Kurgax isn't necessarily a very interesting villain or opponent (just something I threw together in 30 minutes); what you see below is only an example of how you can describe a villain concisely. (124 words)

Kurgax the Sellsword CR 5
LE male human fighter 6
Kurgax is the leader of the Hounds, a mercenary company whose headquarters is a ruined hilltop citadel called the Iron Bastion. Honorable but unforgiving, he always gives his opponents a chance to surrender, but anyone who rejects his offer is slaughtered mercilessly. The mounted and heavily armored Hounds use their superior speed and mobility to make concentrated attacks, causing disorganization and panic. In single combat, rather than swinging around rashly like younger men, Kurgax uses well-timed attacks to deliver devastating blows with his greatsword (Improved Feint + Vital Strike). Already graying and weary of the violent life he leads, Kurgax is planning a coup, looking to install himself as the ruler of a small country.

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