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Making my villain's plans too good:

 1 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:15:34 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
It's one of my (many) failings as a writer.

I always make my villain's plans too good, and I can never think of a way for the heroes to counter it without resorting to Deus ex Machina or Ass Pull.

but I also don't like making my villains too stupid either. (I'm a fan of Magnificent Bastards y'see)

Does anyone have any tips regarding this little problem of mine?
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 2 KSPAM, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:17:08 PM from on the ground Relationship Status: In another castle
BEST. PRINCESS. EVER
The Bad Guy Wins

It's not exactly uncommon. Take real life for example. If your villain's got a good, well thought out plan that they've put more time and effort into than the heroes, then they damn well deserve to win.
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
 3 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:21:05 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up] but if that's the case then the heroes can't even provide a challenge
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 4 Crystal Glacia, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:36:19 PM from Cedarpointland
patience, young padawan
What do you mean? Are you trying to say that the heroes wouldn't be able to present much of a challenge to the villains, or that the heroes shouldn't even try to challenge the villains, or what?

Because how would the heroes know that the villain has a better plan than they do?
Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
 5 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:40:44 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up] I mean, if the villain is a Chessmaster or a Manipulative Bastard and he has a massive plan that takes into account almost everything, then the heroes wouldn't be able to provide a challenge for him. The people reading/watching wouldn't be interested because the conflict is so horribly one sided. The heroes have to be able to pose some kind of a threat to the villain

edited 9th Oct '11 2:42:24 PM by gingerninja666

"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 6 KSPAM, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:41:34 PM from on the ground Relationship Status: In another castle
BEST. PRINCESS. EVER
Throw a Spanner in the Works or something. Duh.
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
 7 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:43:05 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up] That's what I'm trying to avoid. I don't want to rely on Deus ex Machina or Ass Pulls
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 8 jagillette, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:44:46 PM from the middle of nowhere
Wimpy Mc Squishy
Here's a solution: you counter your Manipulative Bastard Big Bad with a Magnificent Bastard Big Good who's at least as smart as him. Have you seen either of the animes Code Geass or Death Note? That's basically how those shows worked, and it was a lot of fun to watch. In scenarios like this, it's like the plot is a giant game of chess between two masters, instead of one guy playing all by himself.
 9 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:46:21 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up] Look at my avatar and signature [lol] (plus Death Note is one of my favourite animes)

It's where my love of Maginificent Bastards came from
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 10 nrjxll, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:46:40 PM Relationship Status: Not war
While I think that if your villain really can't be beaten without some kind of Deus ex Machina, s/he deserves to win, it's important to note that a Spanner in the Works does not automatically equal as Deus ex Machina / Ass Pull.

Also, you might want to consider why you made your villain "too good" to begin with. A Chessmaster/Magnificent Bastard type villain is not automatically a good thing.

 11 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:48:26 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up] I have a massive love of plans, gambits and manipulations. I like my villains to be competent
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 12 KSPAM, Sun, 9th Oct '11 2:48:37 PM from on the ground Relationship Status: In another castle
BEST. PRINCESS. EVER
A Spanner in the Works isn't an Ass Pull or Deus ex Machina. If you establish that this person is either (a), stupid enough to exploit the fatal flaw in the arrogant Chessmaster's plan (accidentally or not) or (b), working to undermine The Chessmaster from behind the scenes, then it isn't out of nowhere.

edited 9th Oct '11 2:48:59 PM by KSPAM

Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
 13 jagillette, Sun, 9th Oct '11 3:10:43 PM from the middle of nowhere
Wimpy Mc Squishy
Here's another solution that's kind of a variant on "the villain wins." The villain wins, but instead of a greedy bastard villain, you have a well-intentioned extremist. Like in Watchmen. The bad guy won, but his winning actually made the world a better place.

However, that suggestion in no way means that I endorse Watchmen as a good movie.
 14 KSPAM, Sun, 9th Oct '11 3:12:10 PM from on the ground Relationship Status: In another castle
BEST. PRINCESS. EVER
As a good comic book though, that's a different story.
Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
 15 Ronka 87, Sun, 9th Oct '11 4:28:57 PM from the mouth of madness.
Maid of Win
If you want the heroes to win, try leveling them up to combat the villain. They start out weak, lose the first few fights, or only win in small ways. Then they learn from observing the villain and come up with plans to counter the villain's plans. Maybe they resort to some of the tactics the villain used. Maybe they get a little tarnished on the way.

Personally, I think Chessmaster, Magnificent Bastard, and especially Xanatos Gambit are overrated as tropes. I like smart villains, but often with these tropes it seems like the villains tip into Villain Sue territory— they've thought of every possible situation, and they can't be defeated ever, no way, no how. That's just as boring as the hero winning easily, with an added level of frustration because we're apparently supposed to root for the guys who never win. I can buy it if it ends a story (as with Watchmen), but as an ongoing thing? No.

Is it possible to give an example of the kind of plan you're giving the villain? It's easier to give specific advice on specific situations.
Thanks for the all fish!
Well, you can have your heroes take advantage of something out of the villain's control. The more you complicate the plan, the more can go wrong with it, and the more opportunities the heroes have to stop him.

Alternately, if your Magnificent Bastard is too good, give him a rival Magnificent Bastard working at cross-purposes (doesn't necessarily have to be a hero; he might be from some unknown third faction), or have The Starscream on his side ready to take power from him and foil his plans. Or else, ask yourself if the villain's plan really is unstoppable; it's possible it's just a Xanatos Roulette.

edited 9th Oct '11 4:32:54 PM by tropetown

 17 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 4:36:37 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up][up] Actually, the main example I can think of actually has the heroes figuring out a clever way to worm out of it [lol]

It's just a flaw i KNOW I have.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that the antagonist's forces need to be equal to or greater than the protagonist's, that way their eventual defeat is all the sweeter

edited 9th Oct '11 4:36:48 PM by gingerninja666

"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
Shadowed Philosopher
Pull in an outside-context threat. Outside Context Hero? Whatever. People say "no plan survives contact with the enemy" for a reason; single plans are notoriously brittle. The more useful ability is speed chess, and that's more easily defeated by having something happen that the villain doesn't know about to replan around.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 19 nrjxll, Sun, 9th Oct '11 4:50:29 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up]Having the villain have superior advantages to the protagonist doesn't necessarily equate to making him a genius of godlike proportions, though. There's plenty of other ways to do it.

And I sort of agree with Ronka 87 - I would not use the term Villain Sue due to the fact that I read that as "villain I don't like", but a villain who has everything planned out in advance does very little to help my Willing Suspension of Disbelief and isn't hugely interesting to read about unless he is the protagonist. Xanatos Speed Chess is both much more convincing and much more enjoyable to read about then a Xanatos Gambit.

Set up the Spanner in the Works early on, so that it won't seem like it came out of nowhere. Failing that, give the heroes an even better plan that manages to outperform everything the villain thought of.
 
 21 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 4:52:44 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up][up] Really? I HATE it when the main character has everything planned out.

edited 9th Oct '11 4:52:58 PM by gingerninja666

"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
They don't have to have everything planned out. Using speed chess will both a) make your villain easier to defeat, as it will mean his plan has flaws you can take advantage of, and b) make him look more competent in the process, as he will be modifying his plans in a brilliant manner to meet the new challenges his enemies will be throwing at him.

 23 nrjxll, Sun, 9th Oct '11 4:59:28 PM Relationship Status: Not war
The reason I say that a protagonist who has everything planned out might be interesting is coming from the same idea as the Showy Invincible Hero - the issue isn't so much whether s/he will succeed as it is watching that success play out in spectacular fashion. The character still violates Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but that's mitigated by Rule of Cool (or something similar, anyway). An antagonist who has everything planned out, however, does not have that same advantage, and will frequently turn the supposed protagonist into a Boring Failure Hero.

 24 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 5:00:02 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
What about being Crazy-Prepared to a degree?
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
 25 gingerninja 666, Sun, 9th Oct '11 5:01:51 PM from Aboard The Damocles
SCH-NEIGH-ZEL
[up][up] Really? I always think that it's VILLAINS who are protected by Rule of Cool. [lol]

i HATE Showy Invincible Hero (s)
"Contests fought between two masters are decided instantly. An invisible battle is now raging between the two of them." Lulu vs Schneizel
Total posts: 33
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