Recruiting 101 for an RPG villain


The opportunity for training and experince provided by military service is a powerful recruitment motivator – both in the real world and in RPGs.

Many Dungeons & Dragons villains have entourages of evil humanoid followers, especially at low experience levels. That circumstance may not matter much in combat-heavy campaigns – knowing the humanoids are evil is generally considered sufficient cause to kill them and take their stuff in most hack/slash games -but knowing how a villain recruits and retains his retinue can take adventures in unexpected and unconventional directions.

So where do these villains get their humanoid sellswords? They do so in two ways: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary service can be obtained with the following arguments and / or inducements:

Patriotism. Although humanoid tribes seldom recognize themselves as nations in the modern sense, they may feel loyalty in similar fashion for fellow members of their race, outrage at heroic incursion into their lands, or even remembered outrage at being driven from more hospitable lands in the past. Defending one’s home is a powerful motivation, and if a villain can convince humanoid minions that they are doing that, morale and loyalty will be relatively high. Continue reading