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!
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