Some villains are exclusive to the fantasy realm or the sci-fi multiverse. Although, their powers and gadgets are what give them this designation, not their character traits. So, you can have an evil genius wizard or an artificial intelligence who is a supervillain. In my last two blogs in the series, I will discuss the villainy unique to these two genres.
Sword & Sorcery
Evil magicians and terrifying creatures are often the antagonists in the sword and sorcery fantasy subtype. However, a simple predatory creature often isn’t enough to be the main antagonist. Otherwise, they are just sword fodder. If they are predatory, they at least need some cunning. Dragons are an example of creatures intelligent enough to be evil.
To be successful characters, evil wizards need a magical solid system. This is more part of worldbuilding, but the magic should have a source and abide by the rules you created for the world. Besides naturally occurring limits, evil magicians should have a weakness that aligns with the character’s backstory and personality.
Urban fantasy veers into the paranormal realm with stories set in modern times that often feature ghosts, witches, vampires, and werewolves. Urban fantasy tends to feature antiheroes from one of these categories of supernatural creatures. Brooding vampires with hearts of gold and evil witches turned good are often the focal point of these stories, but an antihero isn’t an antagonist. These rogues need a truly nefarious villain to go up against to prove their secret virtues.
Evil magical practitioners often have access to spells and systems not available to “good” characters. It may be because the power is tied to evil in some way. The Dementors in Harry Potter, for example, feed on negative memories. But more often, it’s because a good character wouldn’t use evil magic because its methods or consequences are corrupt. You’d be hard-pressed to find a positively aligned necromancer or a lawful-good paladin who regularly engages in mind control.
Examples of Fantasy Villains
Grendel from Beowulf is one of the oldest fantasy villains. He’s a violent, gigantic creature who terrorized an ancient tavern by attacking, killing, and eating the patrons. He doesn’t have a great character arc or anything and exists to be slain by Beowulf.
The sorcerers affiliated with the Dark One in the Wheel of Time series are all magically evil. Power from the Dark One causes madness and can tap into forbidden magic subtypes, such as necromancy.
Terry Pratchett’s novel Sourcery features two evil wizards and highlights some tropes we see in sword & sorcery narratives. Ipslore the Red defies wizard convention and has a wife and child, Coin. Coin becomes super-powerful (hence why wizards can’t have kids, but I digress), and Ipslore manipulates his child’s power for his own gain. The Grand Visor in the novel is an “insane” magician too unpredictable to learn at wizard school, but he fits right in at the royal court.
Other Blogs in this Series: