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5E Who Should Be my BBEG?

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm running a sandbox game with several villains. The theme is Happy pirates and I'm using There is No Honor from the Savage Tide as my base game. I have several contenders.

The Elves
The Elvish Imperium is past it's heyday but House Kueryll and Jerith'Kor are determined to rebuild their legacy. The have recruited vicious insectoid soldiers into their forces.

The Knights of Vanya
A military order founded in Solaria devoted to kicking the elves out of Solaria. Since the defeat of the Imperium they were expelled to Kriegsburg for being to extreme. They are human extremists devoted the "the purge". Exterminate!

Yuant Ti.

The serpent people linger in the ruins of the ancients and observe. Responsible for the slave trade such unfortunates usually end up as food. Or used in experiments by Coiled Cabal biomancers.

The Crimson Fleet
Preying on the Elvish Main these pirates are based out of Scuttlecove. Any who fall into their hands often end up as slaves sold to the Yuan Ti as bait.

The Hive
A new player that is providing troops to the Elves. Unknown to them the drones are part of a collective conscious that regards other lifeforms as food. Eat now?
 

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Lack of focus. I made a few to many factions last game and the didn't resonate to well as it dilutes them IMHO.
Playing one side off against the other (with no good guys) is pretty central to the pirate theme though. I don't think five is a lot, let the players choose who they like and who they hate.

If you are going to narrow it down the Yuan-Ti are too obvious. The Crimson Fleet would be the closest thing to good guys, the elves have probably triggered bad stuff buy mistake, so your final conflict is probably between the Queen of Blades Hive and the British Knights.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Knights are kinda small they're the best quality army around though.

Give some sort of infernal influence. I've got a cockroach demon Lord and the old 3.5 Obyrinth could get dusted off.
 

Tonguez

Legend
Why not let you players decide? I assume your players know about the various factions so establish that the factions are all some kind of bad and in session 0 let the players define their PC relationships as a 'crew'
1 Where do the PCs start?
2 Why are they pirates? (motivation)
3 Which Faction are they allied with?
4 Which faction are they antagonistic to?
5 are the going to borrow an allied ship, steal an opposed factions ship or buy a ship?
6 are they going to target another factions ship or raid another factions town?
7 adventure
 

My thoughts on reading that are Babylon 5 inspired tbh.

The Crimson Fleet are raiders but are strict parasites. There's a limit to their ambition - and if anything they want to keep the situation intact; destroy the elves and there's nothing to rob. They are also potential allies.

The Yuan-Ti seem a bit higher level than the pirates but too fragmented and not ambitious enough. Sure one group of them may be looking at creating a tidal wave - but they aren't looming enough to be bad guys. They seem like great fodder for filler sessions.

The Hive seem a little one-note. Also a little impersonal. Great mooks. Possibly with a consciousness that takes over individual drones and you can taunt the PCs with the way Harbinger takes over individual collectors in Mass Effect 2. As big bads however they suffer from the same problem as the pirates - they are clearly hunter-gatherers who want to eat free-range humanoids. Play this up. And the best tasting meat? Still warm and preferably still alive adventurer. Which the consciousness of the hive mind will step in to one of the drones to try to grab. The more a character has been through the better they taste, and no one goes through as much as adventurers. This also allows your faceless mooks to scale as the hive mind brings more and more of its attention on to the adventurers and the more attention the hive mind is paying the more power the hive warriors get to draw on.

The racist knights are a little one-note. Bad guys, yes. Interesting bad guys? Not very. They of course see themselves as the good guys when they really aren't.

And then we come to the elves, who remind me a lot of the Centauri from Babylon 5. Their backs are against the wall. They can't stop the Crimson Fleet from raiding their ships, or the Yuan-Ti from occasionally raiding their villages. In an attempt to stop the knights from sacking yet another town and expelling the inhabitants they've made a deal with a new player to hire mercenaries. It's a secret known only among the very most elite elves that part of that deal involves a tribute of living elves to be eaten by the Hive - it's better than losing another entire town to the knights and having the elves slaughtered or turned into refugees. Damn right they want their power back - they are facing a not terribly slow extermination. And because of this there is almost nothing they wouldn't do. And when they start to turn the tide against the knights via power gained from questionable pacts and bargains their revenge is going to involve dark magic to weaken the knights further. They will not stop until they feel safe - which will involve no non-elf being able to threaten an elf and using the souls of any non-elves in the towns they took (especially from the knights) to pay as many of the bargains they made as possible.
 

dave2008

Legend
The Hive. They appear to be the only one that the PCs would have to find out about their evil intentions (but maybe I'm wrong about that).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Oh Elves not chaotic good goody shoes more East India Company. One house has fallen under the away of the Yuant Ti but there's 7 houses.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
A central theme in a lot of pirate-friendly fiction is freedom--carving your own path free of restriction and repression. As such, the Imperium seems like the natural opposite of that.
 

Odysseus

Explorer
How about throwing all or most of them at the party early on .See which ones the party dislikes the most, and use that fraction.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
1. Make it a poll.

2. This guy is always (ALWAYS!) the Big Bad.


All hail Xargon.

The Hive is a placeholder name. They have infiltrator units. They are basically humanoid stirges or heart eaters.

Elves and Crimson fleet are the naval type baddies. The Elves are heavily outnumbered (1000-1) so they use mercenaries and half elf officer/bureaucrat types.
 

It sounds to me like none of these factions would make for a compelling main antagonist. Maybe you should introduce something else, that poses a threat to all these factions. Then leave it to the players to form an alliance.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
It sounds to me like none of these factions would make for a compelling main antagonist. Maybe you should introduce something else, that poses a threat to all these factions. Then leave it to the players to form an alliance.
I'll sex it up a bit with an individual.

Vanthus Vanderboren is the BBEG atm, and Cervantes the Dread is a famous pirate presumed dead.

Any of the factions can be a front for a dragon or demonlord.
 


Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I'm running a sandbox game with several villains. The theme is Happy pirates and I'm using There is No Honor from the Savage Tide as my base game. I have several contenders.

The Elves
The Elvish Imperium is past it's heyday but House Kueryll and Jerith'Kor are determined to rebuild their legacy. The have recruited vicious insectoid soldiers into their forces.

The Knights of Vanya
A military order founded in Solaria devoted to kicking the elves out of Solaria. Since the defeat of the Imperium they were expelled to Kriegsburg for being to extreme. They are human extremists devoted the "the purge". Exterminate!

Yuant Ti.

The serpent people linger in the ruins of the ancients and observe. Responsible for the slave trade such unfortunates usually end up as food. Or used in experiments by Coiled Cabal biomancers.

The Crimson Fleet
Preying on the Elvish Main these pirates are based out of Scuttlecove. Any who fall into their hands often end up as slaves sold to the Yuan Ti as bait.

The Hive
A new player that is providing troops to the Elves. Unknown to them the drones are part of a collective conscious that regards other lifeforms as food. Eat now?
Definitely remove the Hive. That one seems a little off-topic for the various themes your going for.

The Elvish Imperium seems like the best "main" foe... you can throw in a lot of the Spanish Empire/Dutch East Trading Company themes there, trying to control their diminishing influence.

I may keep the Yuan-Ti, either as a secondary antagonist, an untrustworthy ally, or the true "puppeteers behind the conflict."

The Crimson Fleet and Knights are great too, but work better as allies to the PCs I think than their enemies.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Keep the factions and let the players pursue the villains that feel relevant to the team. You've created some good choices, you don't have to dictate the way the game goes before they lean into a direction or two. Give them the narrative seeds to pursue any or all of these antagonistic forces, and then follow the hook that makes the most sense to them.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Which of these can nominally be on the PCs side for an early adventure, only to face-heel turn, betray the party (ideally off camera, so the PCs don't just kill them).

Basically a good BBEG should elicit emotions from the players. By having an NPC on their side, it encourages non-deadly interaction. Then by betraying off-camera, it generates hate.

And now you have a BBEG the players haven't killed, know, and hate.
 

Tonguez

Legend
Definitely remove the Hive. That one seems a little off-topic for the various themes your going for.

The Elvish Imperium seems like the best "main" foe... you can throw in a lot of the Spanish Empire/Dutch East Trading Company themes there, trying to control their diminishing influence.

I may keep the Yuan-Ti, either as a secondary antagonist, an untrustworthy ally, or the true "puppeteers behind the conflict."

The Crimson Fleet and Knights are great too, but work better as allies to the PCs I think than their enemies.
If I was running this starting low level, I’d have the PCs start with the Elvish Imperium, perhaps hired as crew on an Merchant ship owned by House Kueryll. Perhaps have them need to run a Solarian Blockade to get to their destination.

I’d have a couple of Hive warriors on the ship making the crew feel uncomfortable and at some point I’d have the Merchant ship get into combat with a ship of the Crimson Fleet.

Let the game play out from their with the PCs making a choice of which faction they like or not
 

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