In a roleplaying game based on horror, the best villains….

  1. are human or close to being human. They have human emotions. And at some point they have lost part of their humanity.
  2. are powerful and frightening. Otherwise, they aren’t worth the time of the player-characters.
  3. use their powers to do evil, to destroy innocence… for the sake of doing good, usually out of some sort of resistance to change or to bring order to chaos.
  4. have a point to their argument. The ends justify the means. (See In Praise of the Villain)
  5. have mentored the characters at some point. Think about how horrifying it would be to go against somebody who taught you everything you know.
  6. are smart, or at the very least they have a plan. If they’ve gotten into combat with the characters early on in the adventure (or campaign), then you, as the game master, have done something wrong. The villain should stay out of the spotlight. 
  7. desire something from the player-characters. Every villain must have a MacGuffin, and it’s best if this is involves the player-characters. Make it personal. If you do, then the players will want to pursue the villain, instead of waiting around for things to happen.

In a roleplaying game based on horror, the worst villains…

  1. are some unrecognizable alien species without any kind of human emotions. This includes Cthulu, every demon prince, and every stereotypical “thing-that-should not be.”
  2. are mundane, have no power to frighten the characters.
  3. are complacent with the way things are.
  4. are mindless monsters, below even the concepts of good an evil.
  5. have nothing to do with the player characters. They appear out of nowhere for an adventure or two, get defeated, and are never heard from again.
  6. hang out in a dungeon room or a castle tower waiting for the PCs to come get them.
  7. have, again, nothing to do with the player characters. The adventure begins with a non-player-character asking for help against the villain…