Smile and Smile and Be a Villain: Supporting the Narrative Function of Villain Roles in Larp (Phoebe Roberts): Drama needs conflict. Stories need antagonists. In some genres, those antagonists are Villains, with a capital “V”: dastardly, mustache-twirling individuals in black hats, hell-bent on world domination or destruction. In a story where the heroes are meant to win, how do you make those characters fun to play?
To which I respond “that’s a stupid question”. Why do the heroes have to win?
And that’s my fundamental issue with this article. It does raise a lot of interesting questions about players ruining each other’s fun (and having roles which are about ruining each other’s fun), characters with no friends (or at least who will have no friends once their secret is out), and player agency. But underneath it all there’s a narrative assumption about the way things are supposed to go that I simply reject. Instead, I think its better to start from a position of agnosticism about endings, and design every character to be fun to play regardless of what happens.
(Though it also seems I just don’t design games like this. I write plenty of antagonists in my games - in fact, everyone is both antagonist and protagonist. But very few capital-V villains. I can think of maybe two (no spoilers please), and then only one of them whose goals are truly incompatible with those of others (and that’s maybe because I just haven’t thought about amusing compromises enough))