Dark Ladies, Villainesses in RPGs

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Myth, legend, fiction, and history are replete with colorful villainesses. In some cases, they just happen to be female. But more often, their gender is melded into their role as an antagonist, and the result is a unique dynamic. Villainesses are, by their very nature, different from villains. The differences are physiological, behavioral, societal, and sexual. They present a host of unique opportunities in roleplaying adventures. For example, here are some archetypes unique to villainesses, along with ways these archetypes can be used effectively in a campaign:

Seductress: Villainesses of legend are most often beautiful yet perilous, like a thorny rose bush or a brightly patterned venomous snake.

Hag: When not stunningly beautiful, villainesses are usually hideous old hags. No longer capable of creating life within, they become dedicated to destroying that which exists around them.

Manipulator: While seductresses might manipulate their lovers, this archetype specifically refers to a villainess who plots and schemes in secret.

Duelist: Women are physiologically different from men, usually more lightly built and with a different center of gravity.

Brawler: Female dwarves and half-orcs may be a physical match for human males, on average.

Matriarch: Child-bearing is a uniquely feminine ability. Consider this fact when designing and playing villainesses. When the player characters defeat an evil queen, what do they do with her children?

Tyrant: Historically, some female rulers may have felt the need to be extra strict or even harsh so that they might maintain control in a male-dominated world.

Rival: When a campaign includes a female player character, villainesses can take the role of rival.

The volume contains:

  • 17 detailed dark ladies, ranging from historical ones (like Circe, Morgan le Fay, Catherine de Medici) to fantasy
  • three new feats
  • two spells
  • two magical items
  • four weapons
  • two monsters
  • furthermore, you'll find rules for generating beast-hide enchanted armors
Written by Andrew Hind / Chris Hind