WARNING – This post is dark and disturbing in its content. It is also intended in a humorous and informative manner. You have been warned, so don’t bitch about it later if it offends you and you read it anyway.
So I published a bit about the idea of Cannibal Castle a few years back on a gaming fantasy blog I was writing, and I figured after the last entry I would jump into an entry or two about what makes for good bad guys, and for playing them. So any entry starting out with “The Bad Guys” will be one of these.
A little history. Years back there was a time while I was unemployed that I was staying with a couple of guys who wanted to put together a symposium of a different type together for a local sci-fi fantasy convention. Well they came to me and I created Cannibal Castle and the following material. We got turned down, but I kept the material and have even dropped this place into a couple of game worlds I have run. Had a Pathfinder game group who wanted to play bad guys actually get one game session away from getting into the castle before they were too unnerved by playing the bad guys to go on with it.
What I am going to drop here first is the original pitch for the symposium. Our goal was not to really pitch the castle itself, but to get people talking about what is evil and how to put something more unique into their games and stories.
Cannibal Castle Productions
The first annual panel on the care and feeding of the TRULY EVIL.
This panel is being brought to you to give a look, sometimes silly, at the care and feeding of a truly evil holding. The idea is to give you a look at something so nasty and bizarre that it inspires the creation of nastier villains and challenges that most heroes would probably loose their lunch over.
This years focus will be on keeping the food stores high in your castle thru any and all means possible, the nastier the better of course.
Part 1 – Castle features and their use in feeding the residents.
Torture chambers need to be in the second and third floor of a tower so that it can be used as a meat smoker when you have all the information you need.
Portcullis need to be removable individually so that skewered heroes can be heated up over a nice fire.
Ballista and archers need to fire bolts made from dried hickory or other flavorful woods so that they can be left in the victims to give a nice smoky flavor when cooking your enemies.
Murder holes used in pouring molten fats and oils over invaders need to be cleaned regularly with seasoned boiling hot water to make soup stock.
Underground areas need to be well mapped and trapped so that any and all unwelcome guests can add to the crop of mushrooms that you can grow there.
All vegetables and spices grown in the castle need to not only be flavorful, but also be toxic in high doses so they can do double duty.
Moats should be filled with flammable oils so that they can be used as barbecues during an invasion.
Stables should be kept clean for the storage of the invaders mounts. It is essential to keep them clean and fresh before adding them to the food supply.
At least one underground area needs to be free of running water so that it can be frozen with supplies of winter ice. This is essential for keeping things fresh and for quieting some of the noisier prisoners.
Part 2 – Bringing in the feast.
The fastest way to resupply your meat stock is to find a way to be invaded. This brings the fresh tender meat to your door, no hunting or farming required. A few quick and simple ideas to get this to happen are as follows.
Send out troops to brag about how rich you are. This will attract other evil groups and the poor, the poor are stringy and can be used as slave labor for upkeep, and the evil ones cook up nicely. This also gives you room to expand later.
Send out troops to brag about how evil you are. This will bring in scores of heroes, and as long as you can keep winning it will keep you well fed. Heroes usually cook better than villains anyway.
Send out a raiding party with a declaration of war. For this one you need good men and fast movers that can hairy the opposition and make them want to follow back to the castle in force.
Send out small groups to burn a city or two and leave your calling card. This one serves a dual purpose, it keeps the troops entertained and brings the heroes to your door. Just make sure that all the troops involved know that you get 50% of the take from looting before they head out.
Send out teams to wrangle all the live stock that they can from farms you do not control. This gets you some light eating at first, and as the farmers stock is noticed gone then you will get more and more heroes coming until you are finally invaded in force. This is good for long term planning and used in conjunction with the fires can be a major morale boost for the troops.
This is a small selection of the options that can be used. If you are evil enough you can come up with more.
Part 3 – Proper equipment and training for your minions/cooks.
This part should be done subtly, if you do not then some wise guy out there will organize against you before you are ready to put things to your advantage. Knowing this gear for the troops should include but not be limited to the following.
Razor sharp skinning knives. Knowing that many of the troops that can knife fight would prefer heavy blades this may be the hardest one to get them to use. Just remind them that heavy knives cost food supplies for later by wasting meat.
Hickory projectiles and portcullis. This means that you have a good nice smoked wood flavor coming from anything that gets impaled.
Flammable oil vials with added spices. Letting the troops pick their own flavors might not be a bad idea, this way they can have a little more of a personal touch when they eat the enemy later.
Extra training in anatomy. This way everyone will know just what the best part of the body to use in the field or at home, what will travel best when smoked, and how long to cook that dwarven leg.
Constant exposure to the gardens. This way your troops can develop immunity to the plants you are growing for double duty as toxins and spices.
Training in the various kinds of oils and there uses. This way they will know just what kind of oils to fill the moat with, and which kinds to add to portable cooking kits.
Part 4 – Hiring Minions
The usual deals that are offered by evil overlords are good but there are better plans and small details like the following can help get the best troops in the area.
First you need to start out with the most ragtag group of losers and cut-throats around. These will be your cannon fodder and build your first income base. Remember that this crew is disposable and you would rather have them all destroyed before you get your first castle built, or taken over.
Second and later groups are only accumulated after the castle is built. You make them the following offers.
- Base Pay (from the wealth you never paid the first group)
- 50% of the loot in all raids in your name.
- 100% of all loot from raids in the troops free time as long as they are approved by you.
- Additional training to help beat and eat your enemies.
- A well fortified base of operations.
- A detailed ranking system in the troops so you know who to backstab without making costly errors.
- Medical plans (must maintain at least 1 evil cleric make him/her a lieutenant and you will have it easy)
- Global recognition within 5 years.
Part 5 – Relocation
Knowing that eventually Heroes, Kingdoms, and even good aligned spiritual forces will soon align against you and likely hit you with more force than even a well stocked fortress can endure you need to make sure that you have done the following things.
- Establish a route of escape that no one but you knows about. No one. Seriously. Kill anyone that finds out about it.
- Move at least ½ your wealth to another location regularly. Usually 2 or three locations works better so that even outside raids will not get all of it in one go.
We will go over all this more in detail later on in the symposium, I would like to also offer you our detailed courses in attracting the proper vampire to grant you power and not enslavement, and how to summon demon and evil elemental lords for fun and profit later in the week.
End of original material
So in game play I have a tendency to give things a back story and build up the villain who runs the castle. My personal favorite was a human from a culture in which eating ones enemies was a high compliment, but when he got to the region of the world I put the castle in he found the people there were small minded and considered him evil for practicing his cultures rites. He never ate anyone he had not killed, and he cooked them before he killed them because eating them raw was considered rude. Persecuted for his cultural beliefs and unwilling to adapt to the culture he found himself in, he decided to go ahead and be evil. The castle and these practices resulted. Playing this villain as being smart made for a really good bad guy. Setting up small things, planting rumors with locals and so on all to lure small groups of “heroes” into his castle. Making them the invaders and his enemy. Aaaand you can see where that goes.
So thats it for now… evil is as evil does… heh
Next time I do one of these things about bad guys I may tell you about the NPC that freaked out a whole group of players who thought they were playing the bad guys.
Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many poisonous herbs are in the castles garden.