Monday, 30 September 2013

12 questions from the Octopi Lord: Q2.

Q2. What is your favourite organisation behind wrong-doing in your setting?

I'm always attracted to the villains when I war-game or role-play. I struggle to care about lawful-good types, to me they are more damaging to the world they live in than evil-doers. I see 'baddies' as selfish but ultimately a part of the world whereas overly-principled and fanatic do-gooders have no niche in a humanoid world.

This is why my favourite villains are usually organised criminal syndicates, they are a natural part of their world instead of an anomaly. The name I always fall back on is 'the Red Hand'. It's not that original (it has cropped up in D&D, computer games, old movies etc. not to mention numerous real-life political organisations use it as a symbol) but over the years the Hand has been a great go-to organisation for countless adventures and scenarios.

They are useful because they can turn their 'hand' (pun-fu is weeeak...) to anything in an instant: drug-smuggling, body-snatching, financial destabilisation, espionage, assassination, theft... the list is endless. They can easily be the main protagonist but they work better as the ultimate middle-men, becoming a facilitator for that isolated sorcerer in a plausible way. If the good guys manage the story-arc well and are rewarded with a satisfying showdown with their tormentor then he can be eviscerated without any fear on your part that a continuation of a rivalry can still be renewed. The Hand can be defeated but then crop up in the next location, one cell can be crushed or an assassin stopped but their manpower resources are obviously limitless.

The Hand can be slick, powerful and deadly when it sends the right agents but if necessary it can be thuggish, stupid and lumpen if the need arises by sending lowlifes. It can be a razor-sharp and deeply intelligent challenge for the hero's wits or it can be brutal physical challenge or a magic-based threat.

When I'm running an enemy that is a many headed and tentacled hydra with resources to meet any need, I have enough of a comfort zone and the spare grey matter to concentrate on the dramatic narrative. This is why I love the Red Hand!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I agree such organisations offer great possibilities like those you described. One other thing i love about them is the fact that you can make the PC's investigate, they never truly know if they've reached the head of the organisation or just a middle-boss which greatly helps to make the story go further.
    Moreover, there are countless organistaions to get inspiration from which help to give different flavours to the differents "cells" encountered.
    I'm actually writing the story for a Video game RPG (looking for pixel artists btw) and I'm having a lot of them at the moment writing the part about my equivalent of your "red hand"...


    1. I quite agree, it's the freedom of such an unscrupulous organisation that makes it so much fun. It's motivations and modus operandi can change and evolve like quicksilver as the situation demands.

      I heard about your game and the search for artists, good luck, I only wish I could help. If you need any character names donated or background details fleshed out let me know!

    2. Getting names for every character has become quite a nightmare honestly. Since I'm adding some ethnic identity to each faction, I may have been heavy handed on prejudices and common places (I'll make you check the pseudo-british faction to see if I got right ;) ).

      As far as help is concerned, anyone willing to draw robots designing spacefarers in a post-apoc universe and some dark universe ar emore than welcomed.
      I've built a wiki about the plot/universe that has to be translated in English, I'll give you the link if you feel like reading through some story and quests.


    3. I'll help out, no problem. Either send a link to or via any other method we already use to chat. If one of my doodles of robots turns out OK I might even post it up!