> It`s a pretty common villain archetype we`re talking here, I think - let`s call it the Sauron School of Archvillainy (SSA for short). Basically, it boils down to villains having a certain powerset, or being without obvious weaknesses, having access to any kind of resource necessary to crush their adversaries, and thus being hard to overcome - typical for top-level villains.

> I guess the basic lesson is that in order for a character to be able to threaten an entire world, or be of a sufficient menace level, they need a certain level and type of resources in order to logically fulfill their function. A certain type of motivation is also required - there`s not a lot of dragons around trying to take over the world, for some reason.

> I do think that archvillains that break with the basic SSA mold might make for more interesting characters - if they don`t also fall into other molds, such as the Evil High Priest (which really is just another variation on SSA). Coming up with credible villains that aren`t remarkably similar to existing and easily identifiable archetypes is very hard, though.

The basic idea of a politically powerful villain is very apt to the
Birthright campaign theme and very useful for DMs to make campaigns with.
For me, what makes the idea of a domain system interesting is that it gives
players a chance to play Heroes who use similiar methods to achieve Heroic
goals: namely, countering the villain`s every move, saving innocent lives,
establishing peace and prosperity, and securing personal and ideological

Rather than (or in addition to) trying to create archvillains that "break
from the typical SSA mold," incorporating a Domain System into a roleplaying
game provides far more interesting possibilities. The main reason for this
is that it allows for politically powerful heroes, capable of investigating,
countering, and even undermining the magical and martial assets of the
supervillain. Hence, it`s not the villains that really need to be made more
interesting, so much as the heroes, their agendas, and the resources
available to them.

I`ve been thinking of how I`d want to incorporate a Domain System in my
campaigns, primarily for Birthright but for other campaigns as well. It
wouldn`t use a map and its scale would be left abstract, so that the Plots
involved could involve taking over the world or becoming mayor of a city, as
the needs of the campaign. I also wanted to meld the domain system and the
adventure-level of play more smoothly and maybe even include a parallel
leveling up process (so that you`d start off fighting Villains trying to
become mayor and level up until your taking on the world destroyers.)

I`m thinking of writing up a basic Domain System either to be used in place
of the original or in addition to it. (I haven`t decided which, yet.) The
purpose of this Domain System isn`t really to roleplay the effects of
kingdoms on the geopolitical level. Unlike Birthright games, which contains
at least a dozen domains all with different agendas often doing events that
don`t interact with eachother, this Domain System deals only with the major
players of a particular agenda: the Heroes and the Villains (though there
could be others, too...) The primary difference in this game, and what
makes it much easier to manage than the standard Birthright Domain System,
is that this game has a strict goal for the players: maintain the
status-quo. Everything achieved beyond that is gravy and often difficult to
achieve over the course of many "adventures".

There are, of course, as many variatations as there are DMs to dream them
up, but right now I`m assuming a very basic adventure model. Heroes can,
with some degree of difficulty conduct an adventure to foil or defeat the
villain. However, the villain is rendered nearly invulnerable due to the
size of his Force, which often takes the form of bodyguards, castles,
troops, judicial immunity, etc. The Villain then creates a Plot which is
defined and given statistics by the DM.

The Villain can conduct domain actions to achieve the victory conditions of
his Plot, reinforce the defensibility of his Plot from Hero attacks, or
conduct attack actions against the Force of the Heroes (but not before they
attack the Plot). The primary resource for the Villain is his Force, every
action reduces the Villain`s Force. Heroes have a fixed resource rating
(that may increase after enough successful "adventures") and must divide
their efforts between attacking the Villain`s Plot (before the Villain can
achieve its victory conditions) and establishing their own Force. Once the
Plot is achieved or foiled, the Villain automatically establishes an Escape
plot and the heroes may choose an Adventure Path (sometimes there may be
more than one Path to choose from). The nature of the Escape and the
Adventure Path alter the Force ratings of both parties; there is a battle
system for one Force to attack another. If the Heroes` Force can defeat the
Villain`s Force before the Escape plot is achieved, than the Hero may engage
the Villain. (If the Villain has any Force left, this is directly
translated into game effects in favor of the villain that increase his
Challenge Rating: magical items, special equipment, spells, henchmen,
monsters, mounts, favored terrain, etc.)

This is the basic idea. I haven`t really worked on it much yet, but I kind
of like it. The hardest part will be working on a variety of interesting
Plots and the Adventure Paths. Then perhaps working on optional rules to
add variations to the campaign model: Competitive Heroes, Multiple
Villains, Multiple Plots, Specialized Forces, Plotless Villains, and

If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

-Lord Rahvin

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