100 Villainous Character Traits

One hundred evil traits for the villain of your fantasy campaign.

Full List

  1. This villain tries to remain hidden from the players and does all of their evil work through third parties. The villain never wants their identity known, perhaps because they are someone who is close to the players.
  2. This villain is cruel and brutal, and likes to show the players just how powerful they are with vulgar displays of violence.
  3. This villain is cold and calculating. They always have a backup plan for every scenario, and are always 3 steps ahead of everyone else. They are considered an 'evil genius'.
  4. This villain is 100% convinced that THEY are the good guy, and the players are in the wrong. Nothing anyone can do can show them otherwise.
  5. This villain does not have long to live and they know it. They have some sort of disease that is slowly eating away at them. They are trying to conduct their evil master plan before they succumb to the disease.
  6. This villain fiends for power and will do whatever it takes to obtain it by augmenting and affixing objects and creatures of power to itself.
  7. This villain hears a cacophony of voices and is deeply devout to their 'divine' whims and therefore they can appear erratic.
  8. This villain is scarred, wiry, and resolute. They believe strength is found through suffering and seek to strengthen their community whether they like it or not.
  9. The villain is a glutton, and is always seen either with some food or drink on their person. This food is either decadent, expensive, or taboo, or a mixture of the three.
  10. This villain lives for the cheese. They monologue, toy with their foes, and treat the whole experience as a game. However, should the heroes ruin their fun, they'll take their job MUCH more seriously and destroy the heroes lives.
  11. This villain has a remarkable scar, mutation or other noteworthy feature that feels unnatural.
  12. This villain is obsessed with perfection. They don't have a scar on their body due to constant magical healing. It's unnatural.
  13. This villain is obsessed with nature. They dress like a druid, and fashion their house and home in nature-themed décor.
  14. This villain is strangely superstitious. They will throw away entire plans simply because of a small belief or superstition.
  15. This villain is strangely nice, and treats their employees with the utmost respect.
  16. This villain demands utter loyalty from their minions. Anything less results in death.
  17. This villain is lustful, and surrounds themselves with concubines. These concubines can be hostages or bodyguards.
  18. This villain is obsessed with gold. Everything they own is coated in some precious metal.
  19. This villain envies those who are more competent than itself, and seeks to sabotage them.
  20. The villain believes they are born of a god, and that their divine parents will recognize them and unveil their currently-hidden divine nature once they have proven their worth.
  21. The villain craves the respect, even friendship, of great heroes. Not enough to quit being villainous, but still tries to make the confrontations as genial as possible.
  22. The villain is acting under duress, compelled to do the villainous bidding of another hidden villain because of some desperate need, beloved hostage, etc.
  23. The villain has a great taste for music, is accompanied by minstrels and will be very loath to harm any talented musician.
  24. The villain is secretly working for some greater good, hoping by their deeds to find, trap, and destroy other villains.
  25. The villain is motivated by undying vengefulness over a severe long-ago harm.
  26. The villain desires to morally corrupt their opponents more than they desire any tangible gain.
  27. The villain suffers pangs of conscience and may, under the right circumstance, be moved to repentance.
  28. The villain is oddly stingy, reluctant to spend even relatively small amounts of their great resources.
  29. The villain hates a different major villain above all and may ally with heroes against them, or use them as pawns against them.
  30. The villain is a disguised impostor, having replaced the actual creator of the villainous organization.
  31. The villain wants to retire and is seeking or grooming a successor.
  32. The villain is proud of their own talents in some type of art (fine art, performance, whatever) and appreciates (or demands) flattery.
  33. The villain is terrified of betrayal from their underlings.
  34. The villain treats it all as a game. They don’t take anything too seriously.
  35. The villain is a gentleman and always shows decency and consideration. They offer a handkerchief to a fallen foe.
  36. The villain’s shadow is slightly independent and desynced with his body.
  37. The villain finds killing their enemies distasteful and prefers to petrify them to restore them after their goal is accomplished.
  38. The villain has a surprising hobby, like coin collecting or pottery.
  39. The villain finds it incredibly cathartic to break society, a person's life, or the economy as if they were the contents of a rage room.
  40. The villain has scouts that look for up-and-coming talent (both challenges and recruits).
  41. The villain wants to reset society because they feel the world feels too explored, too claustrophobic.
  42. The villain never works off the clock.
  43. This villain shows kindness and compassion to a very unremarkable specific being, while being dismissive and cruel to everything else. The reason is quite surprising why they care so much about it.
  44. The villain is obsessed with a hobby completely unrelated to their villainous goals.
  45. The villain suffers from sudden intense pain. While being logical and level headed on time, he bursts out in pain and acts illogically and seems unrecognizable at best.
  46. The villain acts in the interest of a loved one: Spouse, daughter, friend. They want to do anything to help or support this person, even despite this person's protest.
  47. The villain was a leader of a successful rebellion / activists group and is now disgruntled that most of his former followers are not following his new way.
  48. The villain is acting childish and naive, reacting with temper tantrums to mistakes and failures. They also overspend their resources massively for simple tasks.
  49. The villain is the successor of an even greater villain and is now torn between a more moderate way and the old, simple and sometimes more effective cruel way.
  50. The villain is barely clinging to life. Old age and battle damage has left them closer to death than they will admit. Battles will be magical or proxy based.
  51. The villain is thin to the point of emaciation. They are, willingly or not, starting to resemble a Lich.
  52. The villain was wronged early in the party's adventure. Now they must save the world from you.
  53. The villain is a patsy. Trying to affect change, but being kept in line by otherworldly forces or a curse.
  54. The villain is convinced that a near-worthless magic item is a powerful artifact because that's how they came to power. They actually came to power gathering what they thought they needed to unlock it.
  55. The villain has secretly replaced the rightful ruler of the realm or the villain is somehow controlling the rightful ruler.
  56. The villain is a (fallen, expelled) member of a group whose original purpose was to protect the realm.
  57. The villain is obsessed with (destroying, enslaving) their own kind.
  58. The villain is terrified of something common or seemingly harmless. (Ex: Imhotep's fear of cats in 'The Mummy')
  59. The villain has a set of rules that they will not break for any reason.
  60. The villain is part of a people that ruled the world long ago. They are obsessed with bringing their people back to prominence and power.
  61. The villain was banished from another dimension. They seem to be lacking in knowledge of the world they are currently in.
  62. The villain is obsessed with a motif. Their stronghold, temples, armor, equipment, minions, names resemble this motif.
  63. This villain treats the world as their experimental subjects, seeking ever greater knowledge without regard for morality.
  64. This villain keenly mourns the loss of a dear loved one, and all of their villainous actions are directed toward the goal of memorializing that person.
  65. This villain believes in the purity of the hunt, and thinks of the world purely through the lens of 'predators and prey.'
  66. This villain has been asleep for a long, long time, and the psychic pull of their dreams has begun to attract followers to them.
  67. This villain once held a position of power, but society changed, and now they desperately want to go back to 'the way things were.'
  68. The villain loves music. All of their triumphs are scored, and they hire wandering bards to follow the party and perform them.
  69. The villain is unhappily married. Much of what you attributed to malice and cunning on their part is actually some very messy, retaliatory, and petty divorce proceedings.
  70. The villain is happily married, you're actually facing an evil power-couple.
  71. The villain is passionate about a particular culinary experience - fine food, a particular favorite drink or vice, and will go far out of their way to indulge in their delights.
  72. The villain seems to have 2 distinct personalities, but when the party imposes themselves between her and the Doom Switch, her identical twin appears behind them.
  73. The villain has died and been reborn many times, he genuinely doesn't understand why there would be a fuss over a few more deaths.
  74. The villain didn't want any of this. Once their organization grew past a certain size, it got out of their control.
  75. The villain believes completely in a prophecy. Everything that they have done is to build up an army capable of fighting a greater threat to the world.
  76. The villain has spent most of their life training and battling to become more powerful. Now they are just bored, because nothing is a challenge anymore. They are desperately seeking a worthy foe.
  77. The villain keeps turning up somewhere else after the PCs kill them. The villain is actually 4 identical quadruplets. When one dies, one of the others takes up the mantle and takes control of the (army, horde, gang).
  78. The villain is not the true villain. They are actually just some poor explorer that picked up a cursed artifact. They are basically being used like a puppet by the artifact.
  79. The villain is someone who is down on their luck. Whatever business or trade they work at is not paying the bills. They know what they are doing is wrong. They only rob those who can afford it and they try to avoid killing whenever possible.
  80. The villain gained power by performing a ritual to capture a greater being and steal its power. Recently, whatever they used for a prison is starting to crack.
  81. The villain obeys the law. The villain is very familiar with the laws of the realm and every villainous act they commit is technically within the bounds of the laws of the realm. They may stretch the law, they may bend the law, but they are always just short of breaking the law. They also tend to twist the law to turn law enforcement against their foes.
  82. The villain is obsessed with destroying the current world so they can start over. They want to remake the world into a better place. To that end they have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.
  83. The villain is very mercenary. It's all about the money. This villain can actually be bribed to stop or switch sides.
  84. The villain has a favorite weapon. To kill or even harm something using another method would be dishonorable. At the same time, they deeply respect anyone that has survived their weapon's onslaught and carries its scars.
  85. The villain appears to be small or weak, however their tactics make them difficult to fight.
  86. The villain is a big dumb brute. They are incredibly strong and tough, however they can be easily tricked.
  87. The villain is very flamboyant and can't resist the opportunity to showboat.
  88. The villain is a member of a larger organization. If the villain is defeated, the organization will send another villain. Each subsequent villain will be one level higher in the organization and will be more dangerous than the previous villain.
  89. Most of the villain's power is sealed away. Each seal they manage to break will give them an increase in power.
  90. The villain seems to have incredible power, however they are bound by certain constraints that prevent them from just annihilating the PCs.
  91. The villains power waxes and wanes. This cycle is predictable once the PCs learn about it. When the villains power wanes they try to keep a low profile.
  92. This villain can't stand ignorance from anyone, and take ample time out of the day to explain things to those who demonstrate offensive levels of idiocy. This villain gives seminars to underlings, monologues on the party's failures while beating them up, and can even sometimes be found in deep conversation with some of the greatest minds of the modern age to reduce their own ignorance.
  93. Rather curiously, this villain seems to pull their punches. That's because the villain occupies a 'cosmic role', which uncontrollably compels them to carry out certain goals and engage in certain behaviors. The villain knows that after their demise, the universe will force someone else into that role... someone potentially much worse than they.
  94. This villain acts incredibly world-weary, to the point that they take no personal offense from opposition and barely seem upset by setbacks.
  95. This villain can't understand why anyone would oppose their goals, and is genuinely confused by the players' motives.
  96. This villain has a beloved pet that they bring along in any situation, even when it would be risky to do so.
  97. This villain, having lost his own family in a terrible incident, feels terrible remorse for orphans and will openly destroy any of its minions that intentionally or unintentionally created an orphan. Oddly, if the minion killed the child along with the parents, that's ok. But leaving an orphan brings a great welling of empathy from the villain, which makes him emotionally unstable.
  98. The villain collects art. Loves paintings & sculptures and splits its energy between the study and collection of art to its other villainous pursuits. It's easily distracted by the topic and might even spare the life of an accomplished artist.
  99. This villain is mentally aging backwards. Physically, it's staying the same, but over the course of 20 years is going from a mature, reasonable adult ego to a more and more childlike emotional age. It's trying to prevent this at all costs, but as its mind reverse ages the unpredictability and lack of longer term planning keep getting worse.
  100. This villain is an empty conduit for a demonic portal. It's essentially a diving suit that is used by demons from the abyss. Depending on the demon that is taking it for a drive that day it might have completely different priorities and obsessions or goals. No matter which demon is in the driver's seat though, it is always an agent of chaos and strife, cruel and sadistic to all around, only sparing those that can be of some short term use to the current controller, which might not be useful when the rent-a-planar-body-ride switches hands again.
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