This is an exercise I put together for coming up with a street-level supervillain PC, on par with the Gotham rogues for power level. After outputting the character summaries, you can then use those as a guide for building the character in your system of choice.

Character Creation

  • What is your gimmick/theme? Start thinking about your brand as a villain, and how it will inform your skill choices below.
  • Skills:
    • What is your primary skillset? Suggestions include: Intellectual/Scientist, Ninja/Martial Artist, Brute/Wrestler, Thief/Catburglar, Con Artist/Actor, Daredevil/Provocateur, Ex-Police/Lawyer, Soldier/Mercenary, Industrialist/Mobster.
    • Pick two narrowly defined skills from within your primary skillset (e.g., a particular academia, science, weapon, style, type of criminal skill, role, etc.). Write them down for later.
    • What is your “power”? This can be either a low-level meta power or a particular physical or mental competency that is a maximum or slightly-beyond-human norm. If the latter, it should be directly relevant to your primary skillset (e.g., Acrobat works for Ninja, Thief, or Daredevil but not for Intellectual or Brute).
    • What is your hobby? This should be something useful that you devote a lot of time to, but not directly relevant to your primary skillset.
    • What is your primary social interaction method? Examples include charming, sexy, scary, witty, psychiatrist, threatening, cool, terse, etc.
  • Take the six skills you defined above (skillset, sub-skill 1, sub-skill 2, power, hobby, and social) and rank them from best to worst. If your sub-skills are worse than your skillset, they represent particular weaknesses in your technique, and if they’re higher, they’re areas in which you excel. Your second-lowest skill will be something that you’re barely trained in, and your lowest skill will be something in which you’re amusingly incompetent.
  • Why are you stuck in a life of crime instead of using your skills for honest work? This is often a mental illness (like most of Batman’s rogues), but could be something else you can use that would keep you from going straight without a huge reason.
  • What’s your main weakness that the “heroes” have used to defeat you in the past? This can be the same reason you’re stuck in a life of crime.
  • Optional, but could have story perks: Pick an established DC character that you have a personal connection to (e.g., villain you used to hench for and know how to use their gadgets, hero you have some level of foil-rivalry with such that your relationship is frenemies, etc.).
  • Come up with a name (real and costumed) and a rough description of your costume.
  • Rank the following criminal motivations for how they matter to you personally, from most important to least:
    • Wealth: Just in it for the life of luxury
    • Competence: Reputation for accomplishing what was intended
    • Fear: Reputation for causing death and pain
    • Notoriety: Reputation among civilians for being a villain
    • Honor: Reputation for keeping one’s word and avoiding universal taboos (like harming children)
    • Respect: Reputation among other criminals/villains

Example Rogues

Thomas West

A local threat that peaked a few decades ago, the Dieselpunk was all about vehicle-based mayhem. A tatted-up rocker with a penchant for leather and goggles, most of his crimes involved elaborate cars and trains that he’d built himself into essentially tanks (but do NOT call him Thomas the Tank Engine, he hates that). It was unclear at the time why such a competent individual didn’t leverage his skills as a mechanic or driver for legitimate means, but he admits that it was mostly being brought up by criminals and having too-deeply embraced the anarcho-socialist mentality of his preferred music scene. Unfortunately, basing all your crimes on large vehicles that need roads or tracks makes it easy for more mobile crimefighters to head you off (especially in Terminus rush hour), so the Dieselpunk was successful less often than hoped, and spent a lot of years in jail.

After his last long stint in the pen, he finally did what most aging anarchists do and embraced wealth and the respect of his peers, going more or less legit. He wound up inheriting a gentrifying old train depot from former local villain King Plow, and opened the Terminus West nightclub and concert venue. He still affects a cleaned-up punk vibe and keeps painfully thin, so despite going gray he maintains an aura of cool that serves him well as a rock venue owner. The complex also has an unadvertised underground lounge that admits local criminals, and features numerous escape tunnels in case of crimefighter raids. This serves as one of the primary networking spots for local rogues, and the only real drawback is that Mr. West (“Call me Tommy”) will often show off the latest jams he’s been working on (he always was more enthusiastic than competent as a musician). He’s generally willing to give advice and help on mechanical engineering to the good tippers at his lounge.

Skills: Driving, Mechanic (Power), Vehicle Daredevil, Cool, Piloting, Music
Aspirations: Wealth, Respect, Notoriety, Competence, Honor, Fear

Companion Cube

Terminus villains have an answer to the Bat-family’s Oracle in the mysterious hacker Companion Cube. Believed to be a protege of the Calculator, the almost-certainly-a-she presents to her clients as simply an icon of a cube with a heart on it taken from a relatively-recent video game and a digitally-masked voice. Excellent in most computer-based disciplines (though with a slight problem managing to pilot drones effectively when she “comes along” on a job), she especially excels at handling security systems (and keeping an eye out for incoming crimefighters). Most of the local rogues with any kind of computer expertise assume she must be a low-level technopath to accomplish some of the things she manages. She clearly wants to make her social persona a terse, no-nonsense type, but she frequently gets excited or too-comfortable with her clients and talks way too much. This is how everyone found out about her deep investment in cosplay, and there’s a running game at the Terminus West lounge to try to figure out which of the heavily-costumed groupies is Companion Cube in her latest disguise. She has a sideline producing costumes for many of the city’s villains (and possibly some of the heroes).

She seems to largely be turned to a life of crime out of disgust at trying to live the straight life. Many suspect that she must have hit the glass ceiling for female programmers, and bounced off of it hard and angrily. However, since she mostly oversees jobs for the cred, trying to be a L33T H4X0R, her biggest weakness is that she’s probably still holding on to her day job, and isn’t available a lot of the time. Crimefighters with money have managed to sideline her in the past by various attempts to investigate local technology firms, which gets her to slow down her nighttime activities for a while to not look suspicious.

Skills: Security, Hacker, Cosplay, Drones, Technopath, Terse
Aspirations: Respect, Competence, Honor, Wealth, Fear, Notoriety

Trailblazer

Perhaps the quirkiest rogue in Terminus is Frank Torres, the Trailblazer. A fairly-powerful meta with super-strength and invulnerability, he isn’t particularly fast or agile, and is too heavy to be easily transported by most consumer vehicles. So he is an avowed pedestrian and explorer, and has an unparalleled on-the-ground understanding of Terminus’ map (he’s an enthusiastic geocacher). The mountain of a man doesn’t bother with a costume very often, because he’s over seven-feet tall and thick enough to compensate for the square-cube law, so he doesn’t exactly blend, but he sometimes goes with an ironic British explorer motif complete with pith helmet, khakis, and mustache (he can grow an excellent mustache). Surprisingly quick-witted for those that expect your typical dumb brute, he unfortunately isn’t that great of a hand-to-hand fighter and is absolutely terrible at situational awareness (most rogues want their brutes to pay attention to where the crimefighters are, and not accidentally take out load-bearing walls).

The quirkiness of Trailblazer is that he’s not really a criminal. He will sometimes sign onto jobs to get a paycheck (the man has to eat a ridiculous number of calories), but his real claim to crime is that his pet peeve is people that cut off pedestrian access. He has hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage from stomping cars blocking crosswalks and construction vehicles that park on the sidewalk, because he’s walking here. Because of the magnitude of his powers, there aren’t many crimefighters in town that can do much about one of his sprees, and they’re largely at a loss about what to try. He mostly goes to jail when Superman happens to be in town anyway.

Skills: Unstoppable, Geocaching, Brute, Witty, Fighting, Situational Awareness
Aspirations: Notoriety, Wealth, Honor, Fear, Competence, Respect