There are few things that boil my blood like a stupid villian. I am not talking about a villian that fails due to bad luck or some prophecy fortelling doom. I mean short-a-chromosome, putting the hero in an “inescapable” death-trap after explaining your secret plan, installing an “off-switch” into a doomsday machine you absolutely want to explode stupid.
The reason for my wrath is “The Andromeda Strain ” mini-series. I just caught it on my Tivo and the ending enraged me. This is a slight spoiler, but it was a crap movie so I do not feel bad about posting it.
Near the end of this crap-fest, the designated bad guy/spy and his good guy boss are both shot in the head and left in a parking lot. After the villian spent 4 hours of TV time trying to conceal their biological weapons program. Executed bodies left in garages…so subtle. So, after successfully launching a billion dollar biological weapons program and manipulating the President of the United States , you resort to Tony Soprano tactics. ARRRRRRG!
This is my only advice on villians. Keep them consistent. If the villian is a hardcore kick-in-the-door carnage machine, do not throw in a “hidden plot” in the last act of your campaign. A man who lives by the sword does not spend his time plotting with spies and traitors. He kills until victorious. See Conan .
Conversely, a subtle, manipulative villian executing a years-long plot to overthrow the king, will never confess in defeat. Ever. No matter what damning evidence the PCs come up with, this clever fiend will talk his way out. Should justice prevail, locking him in a dark cell just gives this plotter a quiet place to plan his revenge. See Scorpius from Farscape as a good example.
Be true to your villians and they will grant your hours of gaming joy. Betray them and face the wrath of a disappointed party.