Importance of Natural Resources

Force-of-Nature Villains – Giving a Face to Pure Evil – Extra Credits

Intro A while back we talked about the mechanics villain and the narrative villain, but since we just recently talked about heroes again I figured I’d use that as an excuse to talk about a particular type of villain that I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time: The Force of Nature The Force of Nature is akin to the narrative villain in the fact that its primary purpose is to enhance the narrative But how the force of nature goes about it is radically different. Where the narrative villain is a person, a character with their own needs and desires and motivations, the force of nature is the embodiment of some primal aspect of reality They’re more a representation than a character. They allow us as creators to confront the hero with some aspect of themselves, or of society and through doing so either learn more about the hero themselves or explore concepts through the lens of that hero. The Joker is a perfect example of this, a lot of the time he isn’t really a character in a standard sense He’s not even really a person He’s the embodiment of chaos, as such he serves as a perfect foil to Batman. He doesn’t need rational motivations, he doesn’t require standard human emotions. He is simply a force of nature, chaos personified. He serves as a contrast to Batman, as a way to test and push the limits of a character built around control and order, to make the hero examine his code in the face of its extreme opposite. He forces Batman to face the question of whether he’s really bringing order to society or whether as a vigilante operating outside the law He really serves the law at all. As a force of nature Joker allows the Author’s to examine these questions subtly through his very interactions with Batman rather than bludgening the reader with these questions through exposition Sauron is of course another such villain. He isn’t the character in a standard sense either And he’s certainly not a relatable human being in any way, instead he serves to let tolkien address questions of the use of power for its own sake, militarism and fascism and the value of hope, he stands as the opposing force for the main characters in order to make their virtues and their flaws have greater meaning; Kefka, Pyramid Head, Sin, all of these are force of nature type villains and in many ways force of nature villains are easier to deliver on in games than your standard narrative kind because this type of villain is primarily created by how they act rather than what they say, So how does one go about creating this type of villain? Well first you have to decide on what primal force they represent This is actually the easy part as it simply depends on what type of story you want to tell, the hard part is specificity. These characters only work if you have a clear idea of exactly what they represent. They can’t just represent evil; they can represent chaos, insecurity, the dangers of the military industrial complex. Drill down as much as you can and then make sure they stick to what they are throughout your story. There will be moments where you feel like you should make them narrative villains, but you actually may not have to worry about that at all, so long as they serve to represent a way to explore questions and your chosen themes and show more of the character of your protagonists, they won’t fall into the trap of simply being the big bad. If you do decide to walk down the difficult road of trying to add character and humanity to a force of nature villain though, the only times I’ve seen it done successfully is in the context of them wrestling with the very fact that they are a force of nature and by definition can’t deviate from their single focused worldview. This has been done with the Joker a few times too. The killing joke probably being one of the most notable and best examples. But whatever you do, while you’re searching for the specificity you need to really deliver on one of these characters, understand that to get it you really have to know your world and the rest of your characters. Which means these villains are often a late creation in the cycle of your work. If you look at Sauron the form of him we know from the lord of the rings, comes after more than a decade of Tolkien playing around with the world of Middle-earth, and the Joker evolved into the primal force we know him as today through years and years of stories and iterative work. That doesn’t mean you can’t put one in your story on the first go by any means, you just have to understand that force of nature villains finds their value entirely in what they let us say about the other characters and the rest of the world. So we’d better have those figured out first so we can understand how our villain relates to them Okay, two other quick things. First the obvious Force of Nature Villains can be a literal force of nature or not, either way, you’ll notice that many of these types of villains actually end up being beasts or gods, which removes the necessity for us as players to understand them on any human level.This is an easy narrative device and you’ll see it all the time in classic literature. These tend to deny you some of the subtleties you get with the human force of nature. And it also denies you the possibility of creating the kind of quirky and interesting antagonists who the player might even root for just because the logical extremes of an ideology can be so interesting. But these bigger monster godlike force of nature villains will save you a lot of time and effort in trying to explain them or make them seem reasonable. As we’re kind of trained to just accept monsters and gods as forces of nature. Lastly if you do choose to make your force of nature villain a human, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have character. To be a human force of nature, you almost by definition have to be mad or obsessed to the point of insanity, which can create some fantastic characters. The more that you can explore that, the more that you can play with how their particular brand of force of nature-ishness interact with the world the more opportunity you’ll have to let them be colorful characters as well. Just stick to your guns and no matter how crazy they’re inflexibility makes a situation, run with that and see where it leads you. See you next week! Outro

Reader Comments

  1. Kinda suprised nobody mentioned Gigyas in the comment section yet, considering how big the Mother fandom is. Oh well…

  2. I’ve been tinkering with a force of nature hero story. My character is a person that becomes the god above all others and has to wrestle with learning what that even means, and when action should be taken and not taken, or is right or wrong to act at all. I’d love to hear extra credits thoughts on force of nature hero’s.

  3. These types of lessons on writing are what I've been looking for since middle school. It's really anger inducing to see that a YouTube channel is more effective at teaching than thousands of dollars on my education.

  4. Sauron was somewhat "humanized" (in a sense) in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, even if they are not canon to the lore of LotR. During these games, Sauron for the first time actually hated a specific individual, to the point where he momentarily abandoned his monomaniacal desire to rule Middle Earth just to deal with him.

  5. I think assassin’s creed does the job of making force of nature villains you can see yourself possibly agreeing with and understanding in a way.

  6. Terry Pratchetts 'Wintersmith' comes to mind. He is the very embodiment (and methaphor) of winter, but after confusing the main character Tiffany Aching with the 'Summer Lady', he falls in live with her, and struggles to make himself into a man so they can be together.
    Altho, to be fair, since the Wintersmith is not realy evil and dosent realy go out his way to bring harm, he is less of villain and more of an antagonist out of circumstance.

  7. I think The Joker and Jim Moriarty (The BBC one) are the best examples of this type of villain.

    Both of them know that what they are doing is wrong, but they do not care, and both of them try to convince the hero that everyone are like them (especially The Joker, since Moriarty still wants to not get bored)

    Bill Cipher (and much more Tenjuro Banno) on the other hand… only they want to conquer the world, but with no beliefs, they are not complex, and thought provoking.

  8. I would say the best example of forcing a force of nature villain to be explored as a character in any work I have played, watched or read would be the Queens of Faerie in the Dresden Files. Butcher does exactly what you discuss in this video, perfectly.

  9. Sometimes the Narrative Villain's fatal flaw ends up with them being turned,usually unwilling,into a Force of Nature villain.

  10. Is there any force of nature villains who represent a good trait to a fault where it actually becomes a bad thing like a villian who represents order but to a point where it becomes more like tyranny?

  11. Another type of villain, is a person who wants to fight something, and end up falling into a pit, and using the same tactics, eventually without realizing it, becoming the very thing that they hate. I'm sure there were villains who believes they were fighting for good, but becoming the very thing they fight against, like past in past mediums, and they were inspired by philosophy pieces that describes just that.

  12. A particularly interesting example of this is Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of madness, from the Elder Scrolls. Originally, he was Jyggalag, the Deadric Prince of order. As, effectively, order personified, he hated chaos above all else, but this also made him immensely powerful. So powerful that the other Deadric Princes began to fear and feel threatened by him. In one of the only instances of it happening, the others set aside their own rivalries and joined forces to bring him down, transforming him into Sheogorath, the personification of madness and chaos, the very thing he despised. He's now cursed to revert briefly to being Jyggalag at the end of every era, whereupon he destroys his own realm of the Shivering Isles/The Madhouse/The Asylum either bringing order to it, or destroying it BY bringing order to it, whichever you prefer, before becoming Sheogorath again to rebuild his realm of chaos.

    Most of the Deadric Princes fit this bill, really, being personifications of existential concepts, like Boethiah who personifies deceit and betrayal, Molag Bal with domination, and Mehrunes Dagon with change. They often find themselves at odds with each other, standing in direct opposition to each others natures, like Meridia who despises undead and thus loathes Molag Bal for the crime of creating vampires (mainly to spite the chief god of the Nine Divines, Akatosh, god of time by creating something immune to the cycle of life and death), or the natures of the Aedra, like Mehrunes Dagon who represents the force of change and stands in opposition to Stendarr, the Aedric Divine of "righteous rule by might and merciful forebearance."

    They have a distinct human element to them as well though, sometimes exhibiting characteristics that seem disproportionately human to their status as god-like ethereal beings, like when Molag Bal has you beat a priest of Boethiah to death, repeatedly, basically just so he can rub it in Boethiah's face that the other Prince can't do anything about it.

  13. I want to point out, as someone who will likely never make a game, your guys’ videos are really great for creating other forms of media, like books as well.

    I’m pretty sure some of your videos have impacted my writing in positive ways, and this one in particular helped me put one or two of my villains in a better lens.


  14. The Trickster/Constantine from the original Thief Game was my favourite force of nature. He was a god, so a slave to his own nature – although he was able to put on the facade of a human when he had to. Being a nature god whose goal was to sabotage technological progress and plunge world back into a dark age where nature once again ruled, this make him a force of nature and a force FOR nature.

  15. The primary antagonist in my RPG game is quintessentially a force of nature villain. They're easy to create and can make for epic stories.
    Another good "force of nature" baddie is the Overmind from StarCraft. One that (spoiler) tried to rebel against his own role.

  16. Perfect example: Gaunter O'Dimm
    (Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Heart of Stone)

    Humble merchant of mirrors, some might even call him Master Mirror.

  17. If they were to put females in the game my suggestion would be to put a character model with no chest whatsoever (like at most a lump that would still have the proper mammary glands in there that almost all women have) and a body that can be as stacked as the dudes or overly skinny but a feminine face would do and then you can throw em in and see how people flip their shit

  18. I really don't like force of nature villain. I have never seen one I wouldn't consider boring. I don't like the Joker either. Maybe it's really hard to write a good one, probably, but it's kinda annoying because in the end most of them seem lazy anyway.

  19. In Celeste, the main antag is actually Part of Madeline (the protag). She actually represents Madeline's mental illness.

  20. There is no main cad guy in fallout 4 because it might be the the brother hood of steal and you may Ally with then it's just the fallout made everyone kill each other you can even be some sort of bad guy

  21. Armstrong is narrative villain. Or Raiden is nature protagonist. But the point is that they are very similar.

  22. Tomie by Junji Ito. She’s a representation of domestic abuse and also a horrible lovecraftian humanoid abomination.

    Also The spiral from Uzamaki is one as well despite not even having a true form.

  23. I think Yami from Okami would very nicely fall into this category. He's never really explained. Who he is, what his motives are, what his goals are, his backstory- all of it really isn't explained. He's just referred to as the "Emperor of Eternal Darkness". Yet, he serves as a perfect opposite to Amaterasu, contrasting her light with his darkness. This is debatable, but he also represents that all evil and darkness comes from humanity- destruction, fire, risk, and machinery- and forms a situation where humanity has to turn to the light in order to survive.

  24. Two things, people in the comments. First, force of nature villains have their place, they are not inherently lazy writing. Second, they can have personality and flaws and still be a force of nature. It just means they are a dedicated antagonist incapable of changing course. Think a hurricane, or cancer, or Ares, or the mayor from Freddy Fish 2.

  25. XANA from Code Lyoko is a good example of a force of nature, it's a faceless entity who only communicates via possessed bodies, it never appears on screen proper, but you know its always in the background, always watching, always listening, and learning. It's always there, somewhere. And you will learn to fear the strings and brass that precede it.

  26. I think Ernesto from coco falls into this catagory,I believe he represents extreme ambition,he does WHATEVER it takes to stay beloved in the eyes of his fans and opposes hector,who only wanted to see his family(I believe Ernesto doesn't go to the land of the living on the day of the dead,considering his party and sunrise spectacular)

  27. I watched this a long time ago. But I've been playing XCOM lately, and came back because I wondered if the aliens are a force of nature villains. The villain part is obvious, but to consider them as a force of nature it seems you have to ask "what do they represent?". The Mysterious Unknown? A Greater Intelligence without regard for lesser life, except to examine and assess it?

    As you study Them, developing new ways to fight off the mounting threat, you can't help that feel that your up against a force far greater than yourself, that's doing just enough violence against your world to put it to the test, assess it, see whether's it's worth incorporating your species into it's twisted selection of tools.

    Where does that impression come from? Simple. They kill and abduct yours, you kill and abduct theirs. You dissect them, stick probes into their brains and peer at the patterns, and it's clear they could, and would, do the same. With the knowledge and materials taken, you make new implements of violence to try on them, while they bring out new things to try on you.

    It seems the earthlings are clearly guided into a positive feedback loop of knowledge, power, and violence, which, upon reflection, comes to define the presence bearing down on them.

  28. my favorite is sheogorath but i don't think he specifically counts as a villain however he is a force of nature for sure just like other deadric prince's

  29. Ganondorf is the reincarnation of the demon king demise's hate, so is he a force of nature and mechanical villain?

  30. My favorite Force-of-Nature characters in literature are the Shards in Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere. They are usually named explicitly by the force they embody: Ruin, Preservation, Honor, Odium, etc. What's interesting, though, is that they all started out as more human characters before becoming Vessels of Shards. We get three whole books before a character becomes Harmony, and during that time, he is a dynamic narrative character. Ruin and Odium make great force of nature villians, and while the other Shards aren't exactly protagonists, it is interesting to see them struggle on the protagonists' side while maintaining their Connection to the Shard.

  31. A really good force of nature villain is the embodiment of balance they can probably be helping you but then you start winning against a different villain they start working for them and they just always change sides and fight whoever is winning this would also be cool in an mmo with multiple factions so players actions affect who they are fighting for

  32. My favorite force of nature villain is Carnage

    Now there are a few Spider-Man villains who are psychopaths but NONE of them go as far as Carnage
    From his backstory we see he is genuinely INSANE his childhood his thinking and his actions just scream pure insanity and evil
    And if you wanna know what he thinks about the world go read Carnage:mind bomb by Warren Ellis
    His monologue near the end is chilling and terrifying once you think about it
    He has the power to kill many superheroes and his healing factor is incredible but he chooses to specifically kill normal civilians
    He has no problems killing children
    He has thrown a baby off a building
    And he does that FOR FUN
    Hell even the joker admitted Carnage is too insane

  33. Question why are most triple a games shooters or just violent in general i mean if games are supposed to be an escape
    from reality than why escape with something with negative parts of reality

  34. This is what I think when I hear people say that Ego from GotG v2 was a weak villian because he "wasn't relatable". He's not supposed to be. He serves as a perfect foil to Peter Quill, and is the embodiment of his literal ego, the unempathetic, competitive, zero-sum game mindset masculinism that Quill spends the entire movie trying to overcome.

  35. Ganon/dorf is a interesting example of this, because he actually slides around the scale between narrative and force-of-nature villain. Ganondorf is a warlord out for conquest, making him a narrative villain. Ganon, on the other hand, is farther toward FoN, as a raging beast that just wants to destroy his enemies. He is also the vessel of Demise, who is straight FoN, being essentially Satan.

    It’s very interesting too that Link and Zelda are narrative heroes who actually carry components of a primal object within them, namely the Triforce.

  36. How to tell if something is a force of nature: would Neil Gaiman write a book about it? If yes, it is a force of nature. If no, it’s probably just some guy with a nifty hat.

  37. So has anyone even thought of Darkseid here? Just putting it out there. Both a figurative and literal force of nature in DC to put even the Joker to shame…

  38. Ehm 90% of villains in fantasy are these types of evil gods of darkness bosses. They are just evil cs of its theyr nature. Lul

  39. So I have a villain planned (though not for a game) who would fit this category. When I was told they couldn’t just be the embodiment of evil, I got stuck for a while, as the villain in question is Tartarus himself. But then I realized Tartarus could show himself as the exact opposite villain to the Joker, as a more order-driven antagonist.

  40. 3:02 HOLY MOLY THATS MEREUM FROM HUNTER X HUNTER! Its so strange to understand how characters a written but so interesting.

  41. Here's an idea for a moment with a force of nature villain with humanity:

    The villain looks into a mirror, quickly after realizing what they are- Just a force of chaos, nothing more. They stand confused for a few seconds, then go enraged.
    "This isn't all there is, I am more than chaos!" The villain screams, punching the mirror. The glass shatters, and falls to the floor. The villain looks down, seeing their broken reflection upon the glass shards. They scream.
    "I'm not chaos, I am not just chaos, I am a human! I AM ALIVE!" The villain beings to ruthlessly stomp on the glass, breaking it into smaller and smaller pieces. They look down again, and see an even more broken face.
    "STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!" The villain screeches, pulling a gun and shooting wildly at the shards of glass. After running out of ammo, they throw the gun against the wall, and begin to tear apart their room, breaking and ruining everything, while screaming "I am not chaos, I am not evil, I am right!", all the while laughing maniacally.
    The villain appears on the floor of their broken room, laughing quietly.
    "I… I am not evil… I'm not chaos… I am not evil…"
    They curl into a ball, and begin to silently cry.
    "I… am not… chaos…"

    This show of the villain makes an interesting crisis, showing both the stuggle the villain has being a force of pure chaos, while also suffering from it, being chaotic in nature during their tantrum.

  42. Sheogorath is a beautiful example, as are most of the daedric gods, but frankly, he's the crown jewel of them.

  43. Nyx, Izanami and Yaldabaoth from the Persona series are also good examples of this as each one represent a different issue of our society.

  44. I’m writing my own version of Game Of Thrones, and I want to make my versions of The White Walkers to be forces of nature. Should I do it, guys?

  45. Sauron is not an evolution of anything. It is the first character of LOTR: "One ring for the dark lord in his dark throne"

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