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Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby Damren » Sat Oct 13, 2012 11:06 pm

So, more like a Calculator/Oracle -type? Is there a certain story objective here? Or, are you just playing with character design? The motivations of teenagers can be as varied and complex as those of any adult. In fact, a truly smart teenager likely already functions at adult levels in most ways.

The character background might have the most telling effect on how he behaves or what he hopes to accomplish. Who is this kid? Where does he come from? What made him go down a 'dark' path?

Is he "Sherlock Holmes" brilliant? Brainiac 5? Has he aquired wealth yet? Is he an EcoTerrorist? Is he righting wrongs (anti-hero)? Or, just out to make it big? Does he have hidden motivations as well as obvious ones?

What type of campaign will he be in? JLA'ish or more Marvel Knights? Who are the protagonists if he's the antagonist? Does he have any 'gimmicks' or is he basically an invisible player in the crimes he (or his minions) commit?

It feels like most of this character's profile will come out of his personality, background and the nature of the campaign - from that it would be easier to pin down his MO and basic skill and ability sets. I like the street wise angle, but what does that mean in your game. There's also PL to consider, how big a pain is he supposed to be?
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby JThunder » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:42 pm

I think alone, his PL should be relatively weak... below the average hero, anyhow. His danger should come from his scheming. As for all of the questions, I'm not sure who he is or what he wants. I can't really identify with the type enough to know what kind of motivations or goals he might have, which also makes deciding on his crimes a bit tough to figure out too.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby poodle » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:43 am

That's the place to start then...what was the formative event that pushed him on this path, near fatal beating, overdose, witnessing corruption, death of a loved one, psychiatric institutionalisation, boredom. What made him so obsessed, afraid, angry or hurt that he wanted to change the world. Find that and the rest will write itself.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby JThunder » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:29 pm

A little boredom. Maybe some frustration at a corrupt legal system/government mixed in. Heap some apathy toward the unenlightened masses who blindly support/follow/enable the system on top of that. Stir, then serve cold with acts of social terrorism.

Maye I'm suffering the writer's block, though... because the rest just isn't writing itself.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby poodle » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:10 pm

OK.. why is he frustrated at a corrupt legal system? What happened that let him know it was corrupt? What did the apathetic masses allow to happen? What sort of acts of social terrorism has he done? So far he sounds like any bright kid growing up in a small town.
I'll ask again, what was the trigger? So far there is nothing that says this guy wants to become a world class manipulator. Was his family really poor? Did he get contacted by fundamentalists/communists/scientologists/criminals etc?
What changed him or was he just born bad?
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby Damren » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:11 pm

There once was an average family with exceptional children. But, it all goes wrong. The older sister is out having a good time and 'accidentally' becomes the central figure in a drug bust due to circumstance more than actual guilt.

The 'system' however, doesn't see it that way. She get the maximum sentence, in spite of multiple pleas for leniency. This moves little brother, the true prodigy, a little closer to the edge. He views the court's apathy for the truth as abhorrent and tries to figure things out. He hacks a few computers. He breaks into his sister's lawyer's office. He discovers a conspiracy. They're all in on it. The cops, the DA, the Judge and even her Attorney! All of them lying, all of them paid off, just to keep a spoiled, rich girl ... his sister's 'friend' … out of jail and out of the press.

He gathers his evidence and gets ready to drop multiple copies to various local and national media outlets, as well as the FBI. The night before he's due to drop everything in the mail, the phone call comes. His sister, the light of his life, the other half of his brilliance, has died in prison. No one tells him why. Of course, they don't need to.

Shortly afterwards he crafts a new plan - a plan involving black mail, fraud and murder. He lines all the ducks up in a row and takes them out one by one, in various ways; Drained bank accounts, Exposed affairs, Long hidden crimes brought to light. He uncovers their darkest secrets and uses them against his sister's killers. Even the inmate that was paid to kill her doesn't escape his wrath. He becomes a master blackmailer … an invisible thief ... a shadowy hacker who uses a gang of arcade misfits to break firewalls, house safes and brokerage firms from Washington to Singapore.

Now he's on the Ten Most Wanted list nobody sees - because nobody knows their faces. In fact, he’s actually on it three times, but the Fed's haven't figured that out yet, mostly because he's also one of their best informants.
Last edited by Damren on Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby BarnabyJones » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:16 am

For me, a super intelligent villain is more one who can imagine and plan for a nearly limitless amount of potentialities than one who can create a death ray. I would suggest (as someone else suggested) maybe concentrating more on the ability to manipulate others psychologically, sort of like a less medical background oriented Hannibal Lecter. I was working on a super smart superheroine for my campaign setting and I found myself getting stuck in the "kooky, social weirdo scientist" mindset until I watched the movie Limitless. Bradley Cooper's character wasn't a super scientist, but the drug he takes makes him more aware and awake, with eidetic memory. A super intelligent villain of the non-scientist variety could be tremendous at feigning normalcy in contrast with perhaps a sociopathic internal mechanism; think Dexter. The character you seem to be looking for would more than just cheat his way through school; he would probably have methodically learned the weaknesses (psychological or otherwise) of any people that he's ever met. Why trick a teacher to give you good grades when you could find out all of their dirty little secrets that might make them ridiculously more useful in the long run?

He would probably meet the heroes initially in some manufactured crisis, probably in disguise or street clothes, to find out their strengths, team dynamics, and maybe weaknesses. Perhaps he doesn't even need to "fight" them, per se, as much as figure out a way to utilize them to take out rivals or create problems that put them out of the path of his goals.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby JThunder » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:04 pm

Damren wrote:Now he's on the Ten Most Wanted list nobody sees - because nobody knows their faces. In fact, he’s actually on it three times, but the Fed's haven't figured that out yet, mostly because he's also one of their best informants.

Good stuff right up until this paragraph. Then the word "brilliant" springs to mind. Love it! :D
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby peregrine » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:48 pm

Of course, then you run into the problem that for a game like this, the super intelligent villain is not just very smart, but he is literally omniscient. Because he's run by a GM who knows everything the heroes are planning, everything they do, can do, might do, and can retroactively take all of that into account.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby Damren » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:20 pm

peregrine wrote:Of course, then you run into the problem that for a game like this, the super intelligent villain is not just very smart, but he is literally omniscient. Because he's run by a GM who knows everything the heroes are planning, everything they do, can do, might do, and can retroactively take all of that into account.


Isn't that a danger in every game? Good GMs know when to draw the line. I'm constantly suprising players by making attacks that I know they can defend well against because my villains haven't done their homework. But, for those bad guys & gals (and other 'things') who have the time, intellect and resources - they get the advantage of smarter and more effective attacks and plans. Especially if they've faced the PCs before and know what they're up against.

While I agree it can be a tricky balancing act. Good GMs have this covered.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby Beleriphon » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:49 pm

I think you should watch Person of Interest, the overacrching bad guy in the first season is exactly what you want. He's a mastermind but he occasionally gets his hands dirty (he's not above shooting somebody, or stabbing them). His goal is dominance of the New York underworld, he works by taking out the fringes, then moving into the centre. He leaves small timers alone if they agree to work with him.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby Stone Cold Gargoyle » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:12 am

When I read your thread, my first idea was "Peter Wiggin." A genius-level kid who's not a scientist, but a student of politics and sociology as well as an expert at manipulating people. Of course, Peter eventually turned into a good guy because he wanted to rule the world rather than destroy it. But Damren upthread gave you an excellent genius/motivator as well.

In all, i think to make this work right, you need to give the kid a motivation as well as genius. What makes him tick? Why does he do the things he do? What does he want beyond "more stuff?" There's a lot to play with.


Money-Man. Cam Sardwick has always idolized his father Jim, a small-time investment manager in the Midwest. When he was 4, Cam asked for an adding machine for Christmas. His parents cave him a toy computer, and when Jim Sardwick moved money from his home office, Cam sat right beside him. When he got tired of his toy, Cam would look over his father's shoulders, watching money move from one account to another. His eyes would eagerly devour spreadsheets. When Cam's mother Cecile died, the victim of a drunk driver, Cam and Jim retreated further into the numbers. Climate swaps. Credit derivatives. Synthetic CDOs. By the time he was 8, Cam wheedled his father into giving him seed money and his own trading account. By the time Cam was 10, his father watched in wonder as his son skillfully executed trade after trade, quadrupling his seed money. By the time he was 12, Cam was the silent partner in Jim Sardwick's investment brokerage. Father and son bonded to the music of CNBC as Cam learned not just about money, but about what the numbers represented -- commodities on the one hand, speculation on another, management of risk here. But most important, Cam learned that money represented dreams and hopes. Life itself. That by manipulating these numbers, he could bring harm or hope to another human being without ever leaving his house.

But by the time he was 15, Cam found finance too easy. He could make a million dollars, or a hundred million dollars, in a few hours, by barely exercising himself. Meanwhile, Cam's father Jim drifted away from him, seeking love or companionship in a succession of everchanging "companions" whom Cam did not bother to know. All that mattered was the family business -- Cam's business in all but name, now -- and one other thing.

Cam wanted something more than mere manipulation of numbers. Then he remembered ... at the end of every number was a dream. And at the root of every dream was a person. Where other investors might turn to angel investing -- finding a worthy idea and helping somebody else grow it -- Cam's tastes turned out less benign.

Cam is an angel investor alright, putting his money to work on others' behalf ... but he has no interest in helpign somebody start yet another gift shop on Main Street or build the latest social-networking software. There is no thrill. No joy. No vicarious notoriety.

Instead, Cam found himself investing in other criminals' enterprises. His ability to see pattern and sense in the legitimate financial world has proven quite profitable in funding criminal endeavors. Through a series of dummy corporations and shell companies, Cam "invests" in a series of criminal enterprises. Though he never dirties his own hands, Cam takes a secret thrill in learning that one villain or another has successfully pulled off a heist, or threatened the world, or similar ... and that he helped finance it.

Cam ostensibly does this for the money, and he does indeed profit. But mostly, he likes seeing the big splash. When one of his "investments" matures -- that is, unleashes its horror -- Cam devours the news of it excitedly, whether in media or through the stories his own agents relay back to him.

In the underworld, Cam's real identity is unknown. Instead, he is the shadowy, Money-Man, all too willing to loan money, or even become a criminal's silent partner. Some wonder who he is or why he does what he does ... but most simply accept his money. If a scheme fails, Money-Man simply does not finance a villain again, but there seem to be no reprisals. But woe betide the villain who succeeds, but does not give Money-Man his cut.

It turns out that all sorts of powerful people owe Money-Man a favor ...
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby Kevin_MacTaggert » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:20 pm

He's a Chessmaster.

Anti-Scientific & a broad manipulator of human consciousness. Talent powers based on Interactive Skills. He can speak to people & draw them to his causes. I've found Interactive Skills possessing a depth of power equal to the very best Power sets. Use that.

Human beings learn manipulation early. Your man just mastered it far earlier & better than others. He should have networks of people (relatives & friends) that do his bidding, as if they were following their own devices - but, they follow him. Most people refuse to believe they can be controlled easily by another - your man should be that person who defies their beliefs. A "Super-Machiavelli". He should stride among his peers, recognized as tremendously likable & respected, even when they hate him.

He should be hidden behind another person he uses as a pawn - someone who thinks they run it all - someone with a big ego he manipulates to protect himself from discovery. Think "Kaiser Sozer". A true criminal mastermind that stays several steps ahead of his opponents: when the PCs are at "A", he should be at "Z", considering how they might negotiate his crafted process.

Let me know how you move along - I can help. Chessmasters are my favorites :wink:
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby prufock » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:10 pm

saint_matthew wrote:Thats not how IQ works.

That statement doesn't even make sense. IQ is a variable to which a number is assigned, and correlations between any two such variables can be calculated. I suggest you google "IQ correlations" or some such search terms for a more detailed explanation.
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Re: Super intelligent villain who isn't a scientist?

Postby saint_matthew » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:51 pm

prufock wrote:
saint_matthew wrote:Thats not how IQ works.

That statement doesn't even make sense. IQ is a variable to which a number is assigned, and correlations between any two such variables can be calculated.


/facepalm

An again, thats not how IQ works.

IQ tests are completely flawed at a fundemental level.
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