D&D 5eGM Resources

Creating an Organization of Evil

So you have your big bad evil guy, right? You’ve developed their motivations, their world view and have given them a compelling reason for their actions. What’s next?

Well, they need henchmen to carry out their will! Let’s do some recruiting and develop a cadre of evil for your heroes to face.

Creating the Organization

The first step is to create the organization that the villain uses to achieve their dastardly plan. This organization should reflect the villain’s core motivation as they have allied to it, or grown up in it, or created it themselves. 

So, we’ll start with a mission statement. The purpose of this is to help the future You make decisions for the organization and its members. The mission statement can guide the actions of the members when the Big Bad is offed and the heroes think they have won the day, or when you are trying to figure out how to respond to player actions. Additionally, in a campaign with multiple “evil” organizations having a mission statement for each can help complicate the campaign and offer potential opportunities for the players to play the organizations off each other.

The Mission Statement

Think of the organization’s mission statement like their Manifesto of Evil. It should be brief, no more than a few sentences, and answer the following:

  1. Who are they?
  2. What do they want?
  3. How will they go about achieving it?

So, let’s make some up, shall we?

Say we have a Big Bad who wants to call in their god in order to reshape the world. A typical apocalyptic death cult. They might have a mission statement like:

We are the Brotherhood of Fnoppis, and we will awaken Fnoppis from her slumber so that she may remake the world. We seek the Gong of Slumberbane and the Dreambreaker Hammer to summon our god and will get them by any means possible.

There you have it! A name, their purpose, and what they will do to achieve it. 

But what about a group that is more generally evil, like an assassins guild? You could do something like:

The Blades are an elite cadre of assassins. We serve the rich and powerful of the Goldshard Coast and always fulfill our contract. Those who cross us forfeit their lives.

Here you have all three elements: the name (Blades), their purpose (assassins for the rich and powerful), and how they go about achieving it (always getting their target, killing those who try to stop them).

Add Mix of Potential Allies and Enemies

Now that you have a basic set up for the organization, its time to add some people. Come up with those NPCs that your characters will likely interact with. You can start from the top and work your way down the hierarchy. Keep in mind the kind of organization and what would need to be done to make it run.

This list might be helpful:

  • The Big bad
  • Military Advisor
  • Magic Advisor
  • Intelligence Advisor
  • Treasurer
  • Lieutenants leading Organization Cells, report to their respective Advisor
  • Cell members, each cell is specialized in either military, magic, or recon.

The list above could describe a small state or an army lead by a warlord. It could also be used for a cultist organization that has secret cells all across the game world. 

Your organization might be very different but once you have the positions chosen, fill them out with NPCs. Make them a mixture of enemies and potential allies. The exact ratio is up to you and your campaign, but it can be fun for the PCs to convert an evil enemy into an ally. This could even be how they are able to defeat the Big Bad and save the day.

Build to the Big Bad

Now that the organization is made and the people are in place, your villain is well-positioned to begin executing their plan. They potentially have more money, more manpower, more connections, and more foresight than your heroes. 

Consider what steps they need to take to achieve their goal. Now take those steps and use that as the basis of an outline of a campaign. The heroes will have to learn of the plan (and discern what information is correct) and find a way to prevent it from happening or try to circumvent the plan. 

You can also mix into your campaign some non-main plot sessions to help give time for the villain to react to the players and adjust their tactics. Keep the plan moving and the world will seem dynamic and real to your players. 

Next week we’ll look at the one thing that could take any villain down: their fatal flaw.

Have you had any epic plans thwarted by your players? Let me know about them in the comments below.