My Big Bad Problem
Spoilers for a Pathfinder Adventure Path that was released back in 2008. You have been warned!
I’m currently running the Pathfinder AP entitled Second Darkness. In it, the drow have discovered a way to call down a giant meteor from space and plan to use it to destroy not only the kingdom of their hated rivals, the elves but a large part of the surface world society. Sounds pretty menacing, I’m sure.
My current BBEG has almost nothing to do with any of it though.
Let me explain. There is a single drow, the BBEG created for the campaign, that is responsible for all of this. She has a band of followers, and the players have been dealing with a few of them. However, we are about halfway through the campaign (currently in Book Three of a six-book campaign) and the players have no idea that these “followers” are even connected other than the fact that they are drow (and that’s racist, I know. Bear with me.)
The BBEG that the players have been dealing with was originally a throwaway villain introduced at the beginning of the campaign. I made him up and he was filler for a few side quests that I added to help level the PCs. All of this was my own homebrewed content. The players ended up killing him off, or so they thought. But the stars aligned and I brought him back as the mastermind to tie a few loose ends together. Again, none of this had anything to do with the main plot of the campaign. It was just something to tie matters together.
Turns out, my players hated him. I mean, really hated him. They had that special kind of hate that when I began speaking (I used a poor version of Mark Hamill’s Joker for the villain’s voice) some of my players would grit their teeth. “I hate that guy,” one would say.
Naturally, he graduated from throwaway villain to BBEG. Hard to dismiss that kind of reaction.
The problem is, I now found myself working double hard to try and shoehorn him into the campaign. Like I said, the campaign already had a BBEG. However, my players had no idea she even existed. We are halfway through the campaign and at the end of this current arc, the arc’s “big boss” mentions “the mistress.” It’s the first real mention of her in the campaign so far, and it’s a vague mention at that. She is an interesting character with a justifiable (re. insane) reason for wanting to smash the world. But the players don’t even learn her name until the end of the next arc.
Which leads to my dilemma. I am reaching the point where I need to commit to one BBEG. I could stick with the one I have, knowing that my players are already emotionally invested (hate is an emotion right?). However, a male drow doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would want to liberate his people when his society actively views his gender as little more than slaves or breeding stock. He’s nothing to his people.
Now a female drow, a powerful one at that, might be inclined to lead a matriarchal society to vengeance and victory. However, the players would need to learn about her pretty quick, and start getting motivated to stop her even quicker. As heroes, I’m sure they would put hands on hips, stick out their chests heroically, and soldier on to do the right thing and save the day. But they probably wouldn’t grit their teeth when they heard her voice. The emotional connection isn’t there.
So here is my dilemma. Do I stick with the BBEG my characters already hate, then try to retrofit him into a campaign that he doesn’t seem to fit into? Or, do I introduce a new BBEG that suits the story better but my players have no real emotional connection to?
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this so please feel free to leave a comment, opinion, or suggestion in the section below.
(Images by Paizo, WotC)