The Enemy Modes

Enemies are one of the standards in tabletop roleplaying because the presence of enemies presents conflict. A most  basic enemy is a mechanical affront to a character sheet (i.e., a goblin with a 1d4 dagger). Going upwards from that rock bottom, the enemies will start to try and affect the player characters (PC’s) and the world around them. Items will get stolen, devious plans will get made, buildings and cars will blow up, and so on. The enemies that present the most conflict to the PC’s will be the ones that have the most personal investment in the PC’s suffering, and vice versa.

UNE is quite capable, on it’s own, of rolling up an enemy, either one that is an enemy from UNE’s Step 0, or one that becomes an enemy throughout the roll (“wicked crook who persecutes the poor”). In this tutorial, however, we’re going to take things one step further and give the UNE-created enemy “modes”.  Inspiration for these “modes” came from the amazing Atomic Robo RPG (ARRPG) and in homage, the tutorial example will be an Atomic Robo-inspired villain.

Step 1. Roll up an NPC from UNE as normal.

Childish judge who records love, pursues compassion, and understands new religions.

Step 2. Roughly hew the UNE results in to a villainous concept.

This was not a villain I was expecting at all. “Childish” really speaks out to me here, especially in context of the motivations. This is someone that records love, but doesn’t understand it. The “judge” pursues compassion like a scientist pursues a cure while killing off dozens of test subjects in the process. I am going to push on “new religions” to turn that kind of “cult-like”.

What I am envisioning is a Department Zero creation. An immortal child that can never grow up, but is enthralled with Tesladyne’s reactions. I am perhaps heavily influenced at the moment by Alice Morgan in the BBC’s Luther television series (see Season 1), but there is nothing wrong with that. “Malvina” sounds like a nice name.

Step 3. Determine the Lash Mode from the three motivations.

This is the first of three Modes. The Lash Mode is what the villain uses offensively against the PC’s. It is the motivation that drives the villain towards conflict.

Malvina’s Lash Mode is “pursues compassion” because she sets up horrible scenarios for Tesladyne and then judges how heroically and valiantly Atomic Robo and friends react.

Step 4. Determine the Shield Mode from the remaining two motivations.

Shield Mode is the defensive Mode for the villain. It represents a kind of “hit point” for the villain in that it is something the villain can fall back and rely upon. If the villain is on the attack it uses Lash Mode, but if it is on the defensive from PC actions, it will go to Shield Mode.

Malvina doesn’t like to be alone. Being an immortal psychic cast off from Department Zero she was very lonely for too long. Now she surrounds herself with cultists who worship her as an angel. She understands how to manipulate these new religions she creates.

Step 5. Determine the Heel Mode from the last motivation (or go back and shift the motivations around).

The Heel Mode is the weakness of the villain. In fact it is the Achilles’ Heel. This is where the PC’s can attack back with utmost effect.

The remaining motivation for Heel Mode is “record love”. Malvina has to watch, to understand, to contemplate selfless actions that make so many heroes in the ARRPG, human. Why did Jenkins not brutally slay her when he had the chance? Why did Atomic Robo choose to save the derailed train car instead of chasing after Malvina? When the PC’s act heroically the only thing Malvina can do is stop and stare.

The classic adventure is going to be the villain attacking the PC’s with Lash Mode, allowing the PC’s to respond with the result being the villain goes in to Shield Mode, and then the villain finally succumbing to the PC’s in Heel Mode.

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