The GM Awakens: Genesys – Adding Supervillains to Your Superhero Games

Like most RPG nerds that got their hands on Genesys from Fantasy Flight Games, my mind went wild with genres, ideas, and tropes to play with using the system.  I’ve thought of about everything there is.  However, my mind mostly goes to the one RPG that I played when I was a kid: Heroes Unlimited.  It was a perfect d20 system with all kinds of superhero origins, powers, equipment, etc.  The game had it all and me and my friends played it a lot.  We had a ton of fun making characters mostly.

But as I got Genesys in my grubby hands I thought a lot about how to get a Superhero campaign off the ground, and using the Heroes Unlimited rulebook as a base for ideas, skills, talents, etc.  Well, since my previous column that reviewed how to build a great Superhero character in Genesys, a willing GM needs to consider the counter… Super Villains!  So using the book, Villains Unlimited I dove in to create a fun guide here on how to build a great Super Villain for your Genesys games.  So let’s see how you might go about doing it.

The Organization

When creating a Super Villain for a campaign, it’s quite boring if that villain is alone in his/her endeavors.  It makes for a lot more campaign fodder if you create a group of bad guys to pull the levers of the campaign and make the Super Villain the leader.  So, when thinking about the Super Villains origins and organization, consider the following:

How Big Is It?

Depending upon the sort of games that the GM will be running, this is important.  Are your Superhero characters stationed in one city, like Batman to Gotham?  Or are they responsible for the entire world, like Superman?  A criminal organization that is designed to challenge the players would be considerably smaller in the city example, and would need to be a world power if battling heroes all over the globe.  Choices can be:

  1. Small-time Gang
  2. Private Agency
  3. Crime Gang
  4. Secret Society
  5. Super Agency
  6. Super Network
  7. Mega-Organization


It’s also important to imagine the gimmicks and the things about the organization that make it unique.  So one should also consider:

  1. Outfits – Are they gimmicky or regular clothes? Can each member make up his own get up or is everything a standard uniform?  Does the uniform serve a purpose or is there a reason for it to be that way?
  2. Equipment – Do they have makeshift or cheap gear?  Do they have tricked out military equipment?  Do they have alien gear?  Do they have unlimited resources or warehouses somewhere?
  3. Weapons – Do they have homemade weapons?  Do they have full military hardware?  Do they have ninja gear?  Do they have unlimited means to get what they need or do they need to barter and broker deals?
  4. Bionics/Robotics – Do they have access to any of this stuff?  An arsenal of assault robots as minions?
  5. Vehicles – Do they have only ground vehicles?  Basic cars?  Access to advanced tech to get them jets, helicopters, or other flying vehicles?
  6. Communications – Do they have basic cell phones or walkie-talkies?  Do they have access to advanced computer tech or satellites?
  7. Hideout/Headquarters – Do they even have one?  Is it in a city center?  Out in the country?  Under the water?  Is it a National HQ?  International?
  8. Military Power – There are several choices here.  Do they have basic security guards, or a militia? A private army?  Commandos or a strike team?  Or a large army?
  9. Sponsorship – How do they get their funds?  How do they get their stuff?  Is it from industry?  A private financier?  Are they hooked up into the mob?  Is it an international organization plugged into the economy?
  10. Administrative Control – Do they have a strict code of conduct/honor?  Do they have a free-for-all lack of rules?  Is there a hierarchy like in the military with specific chains of command?
  11. Credentials – Is this organization secret and only the PCs know about it?  (e.g., Hydra)  Is the organization already hunted but alluding law enforcement?  Are they recognized but not considered a threat?

Super Abilities

Another thing to discuss when coming up with a good criminal organization, is how to incorporate the Super Villain and/or super abilities into the group.  Do all of the members of the group have abilities?  Do just the lieutenants?  Perhaps only the big-bad’s enforcers also have special abilities?  Or perhaps only the big Super Villain boss?  If the minions have powers do they have less powers or weaker versions than the big boss?  Just consider what sort of threats you want to present and you should be in good shape.

Relationship to Heroes

The last thing to round out your Super Villain organization would be how you want to tie your heroes to it.  It can be simple and there is no real connection besides the heroes trying to stop the criminal organization.  Or, maybe the Super Villain is an ex-team member who goes rogue.  Perhaps the Super Villain is related to the heroes or one of them?  Maybe they came from outer space and they dropped into the heroes’ city.  No matter your decision, you’ll have much richer stories to unfold if there is some sort of known or unknown (at first) connections between the Super Villains and the good guys in your game.

So there you have it.  A lot of things you can consider when getting your super hero game kicked off and soaring.  Just combine my previous article linked above about how to create a super hero character, and this one creating your Super Villain organization, and you should have a good starting point for any campaign using Genesys!

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Scott Alden

Scott Alden

Scott is a full-time IT Manager living in Lawrence, KS. (Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! Just outside Kansas City for those who don't know.) Scott is a veteran of several role playing, table top miniatures, video, and board games, starting with the Atari 2600 when he was 6, and the classic red box Dungeons and Dragons game when he was 12. After a long hiatus away from the hobby, Scott has recently picked up gaming once again, and is running two different campaigns in Fantasy Flight Games' Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion/Force and Destiny lines. He is an avid X-Wing miniatures player, as well as Armada, Imperial Assault, Space Hulk, and Rebellion. (His family is obviously a Star Wars family, right?) Scott is married to his high school sweetheart, and has 2 children in middle school, both Black Belts in Krav Maga martial arts.



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