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Ageless Evil with the Immortal Despot

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Immortal Despot
Villain Archetype

PL12

Written by Steven Trustrum

Illustration by Eric Lofgren

Copyright 2014 Misfit Studios. All Rights Reserved.


This villain archetype appears in Better Mousetrap 3e. You can buy the PDF here or buy it as a hardcopy book in color or black and white.


Abilities

Strength

5

Fighting

12

Stamina

5

Intellect

5

Agility

5

Awareness

5

Dexterity

5

Presence

5

Powers

Imposing Presence: Perception (Visual) Area Affliction 5 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Stunned, Paralyzed), Innate, Subtle • 12 points

Rage: Enhanced Strength 2, Activation (Move), Exposed 2 (Dodge, Parry), Inhibited (Routine Checks), Tiring; Enhanced Fortitude 2; Enhanced Will 2 • 1 point

True Immortality: Immortal 3, Immunity (Aging, Critical Hits, Disease, Poison, Suffocation Effects), Regeneration 3 • 16 points

Equipment

Whatever gear, vehicles, and weapons suit the moment. The Immortal Despot is typically armed with a knife and heavy pistol, although he much prefers the hands-on approach to combat.

Advantages

Connected 2 (Select Two), Contacts 2 (Select Two), Eidetic Memory, Equipment 6, Fast Grab, Fearless, Great Endurance, Improved Grab, Improved Initiative 2, Inspire, Languages 5 (Select Sixteen, Spanning the Centuries), Ranged Attack 7, Reliable Attack (Unarmed), Tracking

Skills

Acrobatics 8 (+13), Athletics 2 (+7), Deception 6 (+11), Expertise: Current Events 8 (+13), Expertise: Governing 8 (+13), Expertise: History 14 (+19), Expertise: Metahumans 12 (+17), Expertise: Riding 10 (+15), Expertise: Sociology 6 (+11), Expertise: Survival 8 (+13), Expertise: Tactics 14 (+19), Expertise: Theology & Philosophy (AWE/INT) 8 (+13/+13), Expertise: Select Four Professions 6 ranks each, Insight 6 (+11), Intimidation 12 (+17), Investigation 2 (+7), Perception 6 (+11), Persuasion 4 (+9), Sleight of Hand 8 (+13), Stealth 6 (+11), Technology 2 (+7)

Offense

Initiative +13

Heavy Pistol +12

Ranged Damage 4

Knife +12

Close Damage 6, 19-20

Unarmed +12

Close Damage 5

Defense

Dodge

15

Fortitude

15

Parry

12

Toughness

5

Will

15

Power Points

Abilities

38

Skills

17

Powers

23

Defense

19

Advantages

33

TOTAL

158


Classic Bits

Some classic elements associated with the Immortal Despot include:

Eternal Life Has a Price

To maintain a sense of balance, it is common for immortality to come at a price. Sometimes this price is paid by the Immortal Despot himself but, most often, it is paid by the rest of society. This is usually necessitated by the villain’s moral and ethical detachment and sense of superiority. Whether the character must conduct human sacrifices to absorb life essence, must remain in a confined location that sustains his extended life, needs to periodically be exposed to an impossibly rare catalyst, or must eat flesh of his blood (meaning his descendants), some element is in play that must be complied with for the Immortal Despot to remain a man removed from time’s normal temperament.

False God

Full of his own insane arrogance and undying will, the Immortal Despot has come to view himself as a living god and has erected a fanatical cult of zealots around himself. These minions will do anything for their false god, including perpetrating deadly scheme after deadly scheme in his name against non-believers. Not only must the heroes stop whatever it is the Immortal Despot has decided he must perpetrate against mankind as part of his divine right, but they must also shatter the religion he has built around himself.

Historical Figure

Not satisfied to be the true power behind the scenes, the Immortal Despot has assumed one (or many) alternate identities well-known by history. The character has made use of his long-won knowledge and experience to assume power (or be as close to it as possible), a fact he may or may not play close to the vest. If the character is open (or, at the very least, indifferent) about his past, his previous identities will contain clues regarding what the villain is capable of and what his goals may be. If not, the Immortal Despot’s secret past lives are a secret to be discovered as part of the game’s plot.

Man out of Time

Although it may seem obvious that a man not plagued by time’s influence would have plenty of opportunities to adjust to each new age’s culture and technology, this is not necessarily so. Consider how previous generations fare during such change within the span of a single lifetime―a grandfather born before the invention of the jet engine adjusting to computers as an assumed matter of everyday life, for instance.

It is possible the Immortal Despot has not been able to keep up with the times very well, potentially leaving him trapped in the culture and ways of his birth (a worst case scenario.) It is more likely, though, the character will be several centuries behind because some degree of adapting is all but impossible to ignore. This will be a weakness of sorts (a complication?) because the Immortal Despot cannot adequately account for modern technology and behaviors, likely making him reliant upon subordinates in many regards.

Power Behind the Throne

For some power hungry, ageless tyrants, it is necessary or preferred to stay out of the public eye rather than assuming power directly for themselves. This keeps them out of the crosshairs and makes it easier to hide their true nature. Explaining why they are able to drink poison meant to topple a malevolent ruler is far more difficult than painting the target on someone else’s back.

Using an Immortal Despot as the power behind the throne allows the Gamemaster to throw various other opponents at the heroes, using these cads as a smokescreen. Doing so allows the player characters to believe they have defeated the bad guy, while allowing the actual threat to remain hidden and unknown.

Wanting to Die, Unable to Do So

Not everyone who obtains immortality desires it. In some cases, an Immortal Despot does not seek power for its own sake, but rather because it fits the perception of the monster they believe themselves to be. This sort of character is especially appropriate to an Immortal Despot using the Curse theme. The curse can perhaps most easily be defined as the character being someone who wanted to die, for whatever reason, but their eternal life is applied as punishment for something they have done.

Just why this turns the character into a villain depends on the nature of why the immortal does not want the burden of everlasting life. Does he want to be with his deceased family but, as punishment for allowing them to die (or killing them), is he required to force his pain upon others? Perhaps he seeks conquest as a way of making himself a target in a world filled with metahumans, hoping one of them will come along with an ability that can finally kill him. Whatever the reason, such an undying foe will be all the more dangerous due to their utter disregard for their own well-being.

Wealth of Ages

The Benefit (Wealth) advantage is purposely absent from the Immortal Despot’s game statistics. This is because not all will have acquired exceptional wealth despite their many years of opportunity. However, it makes sense that someone who has lived centuries will have had ample chance to pillage, plunder, and invest. Most Immortal Despots should have an impressive treasury with which to fund their plotting, with an appropriate amount of accompanying minions and lackeys to carry out such plans. Give your villain as much wealth as you feel suits their concept and the role you want him to play in your game.

“I have ruled before under a hundred names. I shall rule again as I so choose.”

Born at the Dawn of Mankind or a similarly distant, crucial period of pre-history, the Immortal Despot is an accident of nature, magic, or something similar. As such, this timeless villain is unaffected by the usual boundaries of death and aging. With such a span of time within which to evolve, the Immortal Despot has nearly reached the peak of natural human development. He thus seeks to continue his evolution, be it physical, mental, spiritual, or even social in nature. This means this savage, mighty, deranged warrior out of time and student/master of humanity will do what he considers necessary to keep on, a fact made easier by possessing such an enormous amount of time to distance himself from the weak “bugs” that are normal people.

Having largely outgrown the rest of humanity, an Immortal Despot is no longer grounded in his shared origins with mankind. Instead, he considers mortal beings to be little more than pawns upon his board, to be moved and sacrificed at will. All that matters is obtaining power and maintaining his prolonged lifespan―at all costs. The character’s goals will almost always revolve around these two key points, and he has had many lifetimes over which to assume the identities and position of power needed to pursue them.

Better Mousetrap 3e Immortal Despot Villain Archetype

Themes

An Immortal Despot’s origins can be an important aspect of defining who the character is and what initially came to drive him. This opens up numerous possibilities regarding how the villain came by his immortality and what (if anything) he must do to retain it. How this event is defined can also help further differentiate characters from the archetype by setting a theme for other powers you may want to add. For example, an Immortal Despot whose endless lifespan is mystic in nature may have additional magical powers, such as that of the spells or alchemical knowledge that granted him immortality.

Body Hopping

Rather than living through the ages in his own body, the Immortal Despot requires assistance to sustain his unending existence. As an inheritor, the villain must inhabit the bodies of his own descendants (or perhaps equally exceptional and rare hosts), transferring his mind by psychic, mystical, or technological means. It’s also possible the Immortal Despot now only exists as a body hopper―a spirit of pure intellect and immortal energy that must possess a new host in order to survive as each previous body dies.

Born this Way

The Immortal Despot is a fluke of nature―a new form of human that was born immortal. With such a long life, the character’s body and mind have actually evolved and improved naturally, within a closed system of one organism, himself, without the need for passing evolutionary imperatives along to future generations. This means all additional powers can be the result of this closed-system evolutionary process, or the result of knowledge, items, and artifacts the ageless villain has acquired through the centuries.

Beyond what this evolutionary process means for the Immortal Despot directly, consider what it may also mean for his progeny. Is the character the result of a one in a billion, billion chance? Are his offspring regular people or do they also benefit from his genetic differences, wholly or in part? Consider the possibilities for your game if you have an Immortal Despot ruling an entire line of immortals, born through the millennia, all to serve their progenitor’s will?

Resurrection

Instead of true immortality, the Immortal Despot lives lifetime after lifetime, dying and being born anew as a child. Each time the villain’s life ends, he is resurrected in a new body. Whether his previous lives’ memories return immediately, over time, or after a catalytic event can vary. Regardless, every time the Immortal Despot becomes aware of his past lives, he sets out to head down a similar path of supremacy and domination.

When employing this theme, adjust the Immortal Despot’s True Immortality power, but apply a Limited to Resurrection flaw. Also, remove the character’s Immunity (Aging) effect.

The Curse

Instead of a matter of choice, the Immortal Despot may be the result of some manner of accident, curse, or punishment. A “curse” is a broad term for any undesired circumstance that acted as a catalyst for the character’s immortality and continues to have negative repercussions for his current existence.

For example, the Immortal Despot may be required to undertake some despicable action to maintain his immortality. He does so out of fear of death or, if he does not, because his immortality will remain but something dire will happen. For example, he could become an ageless, weak husk of a man that is unable to summon even the power to move. (Could this be how vampire legends started?)


Name Ideas

The name given an Immortal Despot is open to a wide range of possibilities. Like any other villain, he may assume a nom de guerre that reflects his abilities and powers. Alternatively, he may simply stick with his own name, or one belonging to one of the many identities he has assumed over time. Time Master, the Ever-Living Emperor, the Undying One, and the Ageless Conqueror are all examples of the former.


Capers

Adventures involving the Immortal Despot may include the following:

Dear Old Dad

Of all the skeletons for a hero to find revealed in his family closet, among the harshest is to learn he is related to a super-villain. Making things worse is the fact that this bad guy is an infamous Immortal Despot. What’s more, this ageless ancestor has recently turned his attention to the hero, deciding it is time to make his descendant a part of his plans.

Whether the Immortal Despot needs to feast upon the hero’s flesh to survive, steal his body to house his undying consciousness or for something else entirely is up for the hero to learn while staying out of his ancestor’s grasp.

Return of the King

Using his vast range of acquired knowledge, the Immortal Despot has made himself a ruler of nations and tribes many times throughout history, often under assumed names. Now this villain has decided the time has again come for him to command lesser men. To this end, he has created a cult of personality around himself, using mortals to aid in creating an opportunity for a power grab. Whether this means there will be a new organization of evil arriving on the scene or the Immortal Despot will merely take over one that already exists is up to the Gamemaster to decide.

The Crash

Over the centuries, as nations around the world rose and fell, moving from barter-based economies to feudal systems to evolved capitalist frameworks, the Immortal Despot has wormed his way into the roots of the global financial systems. Buying controlling shares in multinational corporations considered too big to fail because of how many people rely on them for jobs and the like, acting as the faceless shell account that owns major banks around the world, and operating subsidiaries that buy up and hoard essential resources and commodities such as gold and gasoline over the centuries are this villain’s tools.

By secretly placing himself as an invaluable lynchpin at the center of the global economy’s foundation, the Immortal Despot plans to crash the world’s finances, plunging it into irreparable anarchy. When money becomes worthless and nations are no longer able to pay their militaries, the Immortal Despot will swoop in with his loyal armies and cached resources. He will fill the role of savior or conqueror in order to a last make the world his. (Unless the heroes can discover his plans and stop him, that is.)

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Steven Trustrum has been writing in the RPG industry since the end of the '90s and publishing via Misfit Studios since 2003. Aside from writing and publishing role-playing game content, he ... dabbles ... in content and social media marketing.

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