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Assisting with Evil Planning

In Evil High, the players characters are tasked with creating an Evil Plan that will be none other than the map of the entire Semester's campaign. This is more responsibility than a committee of evil teenagers is generally capable of, so the GM, in character as the student's Faculty adviser, must guide the players' choices to create a balanced campaign of appropriate complexity and diverse enough to be engaging for all players.

What follows are some suggestions to make the planning session more productive, fun, and fair for all players.

Try starting the session off with some cheesy "ice-breakers" so the players characters can get to know each other. Some examples include:
  • Students are handed a "talking stick", and asked to tell the group about themselves.
  • Students create Identity art - Portraits, Clay figures, Caricatures
  • Getting to know each other Bingo
  • Two lies and a Truth (or being Super Villains, THREE lies and NO truth)
  • Name memorization activities
Once introductions are made and rivalries established, it is time to discuss the options. An Evil Plan is always assembled from news clippings (some fictional from this guide, some unique drafted by the GM or players, and some real, pulled from literal news papers), indicating People of Interest, Places/Events of Note, and Items of Value. These things can be combined in many creative ways to create an Evil Plan. The current events are provided without specific chronology, allowing players to use them in any combination without regard to time, in order to draft their plan.
    The Evil Plan must be at least 3 steps, and at the time of the draft, each step must be presented in a linear fashion. A -> B -> C. These steps should rely upon each other being complete, and should be somewhat ironic in nature. Villains LOVE irony.

There are two main schools of approach on how to complete this, and it is the GM's prerogative to decide which is best for their players:

1. (Novice Players) The Faculty Adviser places a pile of news clippings on the center of the table, and tells the team to go through it, and assembles an evil plan. Some clippings will resonate with all the players (Tiny Sealions Trained to Kill)... Some will appeal to individuals who may have their own secret goal (Testing to begin on Bionic Arm). Players should read through the clippings, sorting them into 3 piles: I really want this, Others may want this, and I don't think this one is too good.
    Players then read aloud the "I really want this" articles, and are encouraged to leaf through the "Others may want this," pile. If inspiration is lacking, the "I don't think this one is too good," pile can still offer inspiration.
    Together, the players reach consensus for an Evil Plan. Then the Faculty Adviser rips it to shreds. After some give and take, the players and Adviser all agree on a final draft of the plan.

B. (Seasoned Players) Alternatively, if your players have played Evil High before and are familiar with the Evil Plan Development process (namely, how to combine people, places and things into coherent mischief), you can pass out the current events on the same day as character creation, and allow your players to look them over. Then send out an electronic correspondence or a facsimile message to your players, with these current events (and perhaps some unique to each villain), and let each player create their own evil plan as “Homework.” At the start of the next session, characters will do a show-and tell of their evil plan, and the players (and GM) will vote on which is the best. 
    Bonus points of some sort should be awarded to players who provide effective visual aids of their plan. After that, of course, the Faculty Adviser will rip it to shreds. 
    The villains then modify the plan to build something that works for all of them, and the original author of that plan is dubbed the "Mastermind" and they have a leadership position for the rest of the game.

    First, notice that it's the players doing the plan voting, NOT their characters. This is an important distinction. A player should be able to separate their motivation (the telling of an excellent story), from their character's motivation (wealth, fame, power, etc.). Many villains are just too bossy to accept an Evil plan that wasn't their own, and that's okay. This is why their players are making the vote, on which plan they think sounds the most fun.

    Why with the ripping and shredding? It's figurative, but the GM must pay close attention the goals and scope of each step, assuring that the plan can be assembled into concise episodes. Each step in the Evil Plan (basically) becomes an activity that must be completed (or failed) within a single game session, while the players also deal with daily drama and their personal issues within the group. This episodic structure forces each game session to have a specific and attainable goal, and is supposed to prevent cliff-hangers and run-on games. It is the Adviser's role to make sure that the plan has an appropriate number of steps for the length of game that is intended.
A good guide line is to take the number of steps in a plan, and double it to determine the number of episodes you will need. This compensates for planning sessions, intro , holiday specials, Prom night, and of course, compensating for tragic failure. For a game with about 10 episodes, you should have 4 to 5 steps to your evil plan. With more than that, it becomes difficult to complete in a timely manner.

    Evil Villains love to plan, and to bicker over those plans. The Game Master should plan time for this. If a facility is to be infiltrated, consider whether players want to spend an entire session pouring over blue prints and collecting intel, or whether they want to do a seat of the pants dungeon crawl through a modern lab of bio-robotic horrors. This may put you behind schedule.

    Once the players have agreed upon a rough draft of their plan, the Faculty Advisor should guide a character discussion to ensure that the plan has an actual character motivated purpose, and that the characters are united on their desire to see it through to completion. Otherwise, severe resistance and party in-fighting could be overly discouraging to the group. Before a plan is approved by the Faculty Adviser, he or she must be sure that the scheme is appropriate to the themes of the game. This detail cannot be over stressed. Evil High is a dark comedy, and while there is a lot of freedom in the game design, the players should spend more time laughing than they do grimacing. Imagine the events of the game as a television show. Try to keep the game at a PG-13 rating.

    When the players and GM have all finally agreed on an Evil Plan, it is time to make it real, by drawing it out on poster board. Use Crayons, colored pencils, and as many different arts and crafts supplies as you can. No matter what you come up with, it will hang at every game session, and be the pole-star keeping you on task.