On the question How to create a villain for level 1 players, there are many great answers, however they are all frame challenges. They don't help someone who needs to actually create a conventional villain for a level 1 party.

I added a bounty requesting non-frame challenge answers, but it was suggested that I ask a new question or post an answer myself. The former seems like it would just be closed as a duplicate; the latter would be great if I already had an answer, but I don't.

I know frame challenges are a core part of the site, but there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for getting straight answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify what it is you're asking in this meta? Is it it basically: "How can I ensure that people give a straight answer to my question instead of 'challenging the frame'?" Or in this case: "How can I ensure that people give a straight answer to someone else's question instead of 'challenging the frame'?" \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 29, 2020 at 1:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I think the question is, "Once a question has a highly voted frame-challenge, how do I request a straight answer?" It's not about ensuring only straight answers. Its for questions where frame challenges are useful and make up most of the answers but the core question is still valid and you want an answer to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Jun 29, 2020 at 4:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm spitballing, but did you want mechanical advice for making a villain? If that's the case, this answer does address that without challenging the frame: use the DMG's rules for creating a monster. If you want an answer that walks through that process step-by-step for a CR 1 devil overlord, another separate question isn't unreasonable. If that's not the case, what kind of answer were you imagining you'd get that you haven't? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2020 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast As linkassassin said, there's a lot of frame challenges to this question, but the straight answers aren't very good. What's the best way to go about getting a good straight answer? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2020 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Thanks, I did see it, I feel that BBEGs deserve to be a little more than "just monsters", so I don't think it's that good of an answer. If you removed all the frame challenges, can you imagine "use a normal monster" being the top answer in a question about making BBEGs? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2020 at 22:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user-63873687 THere can be lots of BBEGs and ways of making them. We accept a plurality of playstyles here. If that's what folks recommend, it's legitimate. A BBEG is still a monster :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 29, 2020 at 23:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Again, what kind of answer are you imagining? Are you imagining users in answers suggesting mechanical homebrew modifications to an existing monster to make it more BBEGish? Are you imagining that there's a way to marshal existing game elements to make a monster more BBEGgy? I fear that without guidelines for what you're thinking that the new bounty will only yield more similar answers. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 10:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan BBEGs are usually interesting combat encounters. I do not have a metric for what exactly that looks like, but I know that "just use a normal monster" is an inadequate answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 10:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ So you want the BBEG to be somehow different from a printed monster but not so different as to overwhelm the PCs. Further, such differences should lend themselves to an interesting combat encounter with the BBEG. However, none of the answers provide guidelines as to what those differences should—or even could—be. Is that accurate? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Basically, yes. If you've played a published adventure or even a video game, you should get what I mean. BBEG fights shouldn't be just normal fights, but they should be beatable. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user-6487 I think something you might find helpful would be to look at how the game already stats BBEG monsters and huge end-of-adventure or end-of-campaign fights. Something can be a monster without being "just a monster" \$\endgroup\$ Jul 1, 2020 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Sure, but we are talking in the context of "just grab something CR1 and refluff it" \$\endgroup\$ Jul 1, 2020 at 13:52

2 Answers 2


It's all about the original question, the querent's goals, and the community's additions

This is really a tough question because the question was fairly clear in it's request:

  • Wants a BBEG for level 1 players
  • Wants to know how to go about making one

The answers that came in were some frame challenges, but some also did directly answer the above question and need.

The bounty

But then your bounty came in, and you wanted additional material on:

  • How to create a conventional villain for a level 1 group

Which really is the same thing and already answered. You also included a specific idea (Vorka from We Be Goblins.) It's unclear to me that if you already have something specific in mind, why not create an answer around that yourself? You've got the goal and the tools to do that.

And it remains unclear what is missing from answers, or if you simply misread the answers and didn't realize your clarification wasn't answered. If you did see those and think something remains missing, then being clear as to exactly what's missing would also have been helpful.

Otherwise, looking at the clarification to see if it really is a clarification or if it's a separate question you'd like answered that wasn't included in the original or in existing answers would suggest asking a new one would work better.

Chicken or egg?

After reading several responses of yours in the comments, I think the disconnect here for many of us is that the original question really just focuses on the creature itself.

Your bounty, however, is about the encounter with the BBEG. While BBEG encounters can be different, and usually are, it is encounter design - not creature design. And while those are very much tied together, I've often found the need to change my future encounter plans after player narrative actions.

Designing the BBEG is the first step. Figuring out how to make the encounter, with that specific BBEG, is a separate question and should be asked separately.

Considerations on how to alter BBEG and encounter for a level 1 player group is a concern, but I honestly don't feel that it's different from much other encounter design in terms of planning, considerations, and balance.

In general, it's always okay to ask for more!

As long as the request fully fits in with the content of the original question. If it does, then you are simply bountying for more directly relevant information or asking for something that is missing.

But if the community leans on the frame challenge, one should likely listen to the community. It's always okay to ask, but don't be upset if you don't get it because you may be asking the community do something that they already said they don't really agree with. The frame challenge exists for a reason!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I read all the answers and don't think they really address the question. There are a lot of frame challenges, and straight answers are tacked on; "just reskin something" and aren't very good. I don't feel like it's that good to say "well if you have a question answer it yourself", right? Surely there are some people on this site who have experience making level 1 villains. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2020 at 22:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user-63873687 There are answers that have it as the focus, but even if they don't, they still provide the means on how to do it. I'm really unclear as to what you're actually missing in the answers. Is it a specific villain that they build and provide? Because that's kinda opinion-based and homebrew-it-for-me-request. Your suggestion in the bounty about Vorka seems like something you could specifically provide as an answer as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 29, 2020 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user-63873687 "Surely there are some people on this site who have experience making level 1 villains." - I am not so sure about that for 5e haha. We had a conversation about that in the Role-playing Games Chat a few days ago and the general consensus seems to be that even for large campaigns people start at 3rd level. Almost everyone that I know think it is too boring to play 1st level in 5e, except for building up the character for a longer, larger campaign. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 30, 2020 at 1:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ And as Naut mentioned, you seem to have Vorka in mind, and you seem to understand what makes him an interesting and conceptually different monster from any other CR2 monster in Pathfinder, so, what is the issue in writing down what makes it so special in your point of view as an answer? You yourself mentioned you "felt like answering the question" when you started describing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 30, 2020 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint Oh, YMMV then, I don't personally know anyone who dislikes starting at level 1. Vorka is just an example I thought of since it's an incredibly popular level 1 1-shot. I think I answered you (or someone else?) asking what makes Vorka different from a normal monster. I feel like if I have to explain how a BBEG is different to a normal monster, whoever I'm explaining it too probably doesn't have the expertise to make a good answer. If you don't play with BBEG combat encounters, that's fine, but I doubt there's no one on the site who does. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'm not saying there are no straight answers, but no answers that I would consider to be good. It is not a homebrew request. I do not have an answer to post. BBEG combat encounters aren't just regular fights in my mind. Maybe that's idiosyncratic, but I am after encounters that are more interesting than a standard monster. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user-63873687 I may have been reading too shallow, or you too deeply, but the original question isn't directly about encounter design. It's asking about how to design a BBEG. You may read that as BBEG encounter, but it seems like most answers here took it more to be the BBEG itself. Regardless of who read it correctly (only OP can tell us), I think those are actually two separate questions. And it seems like you are interested in encounter design, and not character design with your bounty. Have you seen this question that could apply? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 30, 2020 at 12:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch The scope of that question is quite different. Yes, I guess you could read the original question as being purely lore, but I think mechanics are still within scope. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2020 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user-63873687 The scope of that question is about adding more interesting elements to an encounter, which seems to be what you're wanting? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 30, 2020 at 22:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ And my reading of the original question wasn't 'lore', but just the bbeg as a creature and not about the bbeg encounter. Especially since they never used encounter in their question. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 30, 2020 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch In my experience usually the party defeats the BBEG, or at least fights them \$\endgroup\$ Jul 1, 2020 at 9:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user-63873687 I updated my answer, but basically encounter design and BBEG design are two separate, but related, things. The original question is seemingly about BBEG design, and not about the encounter itself. Asking about the encounter side of it really should be a separate question and not a bounty on top of this one. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jul 1, 2020 at 15:53

It's really hard

Getting a straight answer to a question that expresses a minority viewpoint can be extremely difficult on this site. Here's what I do:

  1. Accept you are going to lose ~50 rep on this question and it's going to be very downvoted. If you are very low rep, you have to be careful to ration asking real questions with asking popular ones. When I was low-rep the balance I found was to not ask more than one real question every 2-3 successfully popular ones, but the exact ratio will depend on how much you want answers from the site v.s. how much you want rep-growth.

  2. Post the question during a low-activity period. Most frame-challenge answers that don't actually answer the question at all are posted quickly with very little effort put in, and are pretty reactionary. If your question can get off the front page, it's much more likely to get a good answer. In my experience, question posting drops less than bad-answer-posting during off hours, so you can improve your odds somewhat that way.

  3. Preempt frame challenges as much as possible in your question. Make explicitly clear the positions that make the frame challenge incorrect and require answers to adopt them or be more flagrantly insulting. Frame challenges that reach a sufficient level of insulting can usually get flag-deleted as not-an-answer or possibly even significantly downvoted. For example, with the question you're asking about, you would say something like "For campaigns that are played entirely at level 1, how does one create a climactic, campaign-ending BBEG fight?" You'll still get some ignoramus posting "maybe consider not ending it with a fight with the BBEG", but you probably won't get more than two or three of those, and possibly none if you implement more strategies to discourage that sort of answer.

  4. Make your question long, with significant complex discussions of the issues at hand. Most people posting low-quality answers without putting much thought into it think they are being helpful, because you are dumb and so their 5-second google search or immediate reactionary gut-feeling is sufficient to enlighten you. If your question uses proper grammar, spelling, and syntax that helps a lot, of course, but one assumes you are already doing that. Complex discussions-- as opposed to more reasonable concise research-showing-- discourage the idea that you are dumb even for people who post low-quality content without reading very much. Also most of them will give up on your question as soon as they see it is page-length rather than paragraph-length, because reading takes effort, so that helps, too.

  5. Stay online for a couple hours after your question is posted so you can immediately post negative comments on answers that frame-challenge your question without answering it. Point out that the answer doesn't address the question, and explain how what it is doing is bad and dismisses your kind of gaming as not valuable. Downvote it immediately. Negative comments significantly discourage drive-by upvoting, and if you can get a bad answer to even just -1 it will incur drive-by downvoting.

  6. If an answer is sufficiently insulting and a frame-challenge with no real answer, you can flag it as 'not-an-answer' and it might get deleted. Don't flag it as offensive, even though that's the actual problem with it, because the bar for that is astronomically higher, and 'not-an-answer' lets the moderators and the user in question both save face/ be nonconfrontational in their interaction. Usually, though, in this circumstance, it works better to just wait and let the moderators or another user post a comment and delete it of their own accord-- the bar for deletions recommended by not-the-op seems to be lower especially for frame challenges.

  7. Wait ~ a month. Usually, if you can keep your question unanswered for a week or so you will eventually get a good answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, there is a lot of good advice on how to write a good question in this answer. :) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11, 2020 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think there are some good points here, but a lot of this doesn't sit right with me. Firstly, I assume 50 rep is an exaggeration because that's 25 downvotes which is a lot. Secondly, if an answer doesn't answer the question please point out to the answerer how it doesn't, and vote and flag it as such. If it is not clear to others how it isn't an answer you may need to clarify your question. I would also question the notions in your point 6, but I may be biased there (or maybe that's based on experience with previous moderators). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Jul 12, 2020 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, 50 rep is an exaggeration. Idk how much it actually is anymore-- it's been a long time since I had the motivation to force through an answer here. I think it's more like 20 rep, probably, which is 10 downvotes, except it's actually probably more like -5 net cause you're probably getting some upvotes, too. It just can definitely be very discouraging, so at least for me setting aside 50 rep (the same as if I were to bounty something) and being okay with losing that helps with responding in a nice-but-firm instead of firm-and-not-nice way to the answers. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2020 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ As regards "not an answer", my impression is that that's (now) only to be used for answers where the respondent isn't even trying to answer a question. Like if it's a comment or a follow-up question. We have an exception for answers assuming the wrong system, but in general even insultingly low-quality frame challenges that don't address a question's substance at all aren't supposed to get deleted for not being answers, but they get a broader "is this at all a reasonable attempt to answer" criterion if they are more personally offensive/clearly condescending. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2020 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, yeah, quite possibly a previous mod thing-- mxyzplk is the one who lectured me about "not an answer" flags for answers that aren't at all a response to the question but are still an attempt to answer ?something? or, like, could be thought of as an answer to a different imaginary question if you squint still counting as answers. I tried to look up the relevant meta but I can't find it and it might have been in comments :( \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2020 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ In my experience 50 rep is fairly accurate if you try to implement some of these things. I have tried some before and had that exact experience. Its worth mentioning that bounties are a huge gamble here, it may end up getting awarded to a non answer. Thanks for listing these options out, its helpful to have such good advice all in one place. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 13, 2020 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer seems unnecessarily aggressive and antagonistic to the experts on this site. Many times questions are asked, but the experienced users understand the implications and consequences of the question and instead offer a well-researched and/or experienced-based frame challenge to explain why it's not a good idea. These are perfectly valid answers are not low quality - in fact, they are the opposite. Of course, the OP can always ask (or wait) for a direct answer, but that doesn't mean that the frame challenges are not good answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jul 13, 2020 at 13:39

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