Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bond Villains (and Others)


Dr Nikola – likely inspiration for Blofeld
Art by Stanley Wood

Don't get me wrong, Ernst Stavro Blofeld is like the big brother I never had, but my favorite Bond villain is Auric Goldfinger – the cinematic version, of course, not the weirdo from the novel.  Yet the book provides some insight into his character.  According to Bond's thoughts, “...Goldfinger was an artist – a scientist in crime as great in his field as Cellini or Einstein in theirs.”  Earlier in the novel, Goldfinger contemplates what will result from his raid on Fort Knox:
And then will come the applause, the applause for the the greatest extra-legal coup of all time.  And Mr Bond, the world will rock with that applause for centuries.
For all his wealth, Goldfinger realizes that he can't take it with him. Ultimately, Goldfinger wants to be remembered; this is his motive.  As he states in the film:
Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean.  He's fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor...except crime!
He's cruel; he's crazy; he's a control freak.  Additionally, he has a plan that Bond concedes is “inspired” and “brilliant.”  More than greed, Goldfinger is driven by the desire to win – even if he has to cheat or murder thousands of innocents.  This leads to his downfall.  After the plan fails, a rational person might flee to some exotic corner of the world and live in low-key luxury.  Goldfinger, on the other hand, has to confront Bond, the man who bested him.  Thus, Goldfinger dies.

Also, four words not associated with Blofeld:  Pussy Galore's Flying Circus.

Blofeld, incidentally, is not described in the James Bond 007 role-playing game.  The game was published when ownership of Blofeld and SPECTRE was contested by Kevin McClory.  Therefore the game describes an analogous organization – TAROT (Technological Accession, Revenge, and Organized Terrorism).  Characters in the film series associated with SPECTRE (for example, Tetsuro Osato from You Only Live Twice ) are instead associated with TAROT.  Instead of Blofeld, we have Karl Ferenc Skorpios, who is depicted with a greyhound, not a cat.  We are told, “...Skorpios organized and Built TAROT, supposedly influenced by the old deck his mother handed down to him.”  (Skorpios was born “to gypsy parents who performed in travelling carnival shows.”)  TAROT has several subsections, “Each subsection and its leader are identified by a card from the tarot deck.”  These are:
  • Terrorism – The Tower (Leader:  Achmal Al Korba)
  • Blackmail – The Hanged Man (Leader:  Giovanni Di Fortelli)
  • Assassination – Death (Leader:  Marcel Dupre)
  • Kidnapping – Judgment (Leader:  Boris Deminovitch)
  • Robbery – Wheel of Fortune (Leader:  Lady Victoria Lynn Richmond)
  • Military Action & Operations – The Chariot (Leader:  Major Nicholas Burke)
  • Intelligence – The Hierophant (Leader:  Nsei Mbenga)
  • Research & Development – The Magician (Leader:  Dr. Isa Nakahara)
The rules provide information regarding 'Personalizing Major Villains'.  Such villains should have the following traits:
  • They “consider themselves to be so far beyond the average person that their desires and plans are always more important.”
  • They have an “incredible capacity to respect their enemies.”
  • They “are connoisseurs and men of exceptional taste.”
  • They “prefer the complicated over the simple, especially when it comes to eliminating their adversaries.”
“In a Bond adventure,” the rules state, “the villain will always want to know how much the characters know, will always want to relate to them his life history and explain the full scope of the plan, and will then seek to do away with them in some creative way.”

Chapter 13 of James Bond 007 is titled 'How to Use Non-Player Characters'.  It describes various “caricature types” and provides a method for quickly generating these NPCs.  For a given type – like 'Technicians' – two tables are provided, each requiring a 2D6 roll.  The first table has eleven (i.e., 2 – 12) arrays of characteristic values.  The second has eleven groups of skills (with listed skill levels).  A roll on the first table, combined with a roll on the second, provides 121 distinct characteristic array / skill group combinations.  (Of course, since the probability distribution is not flat, some combinations are more likely than others.)  Just as there are three Player Character ranks (Rookie / Agent / “00”), there are corresponding ranks for opposing NPCs (Hood / Criminal / Mastermind).  A choice of rank may modify the characteristic values and skill levels.  For instance, the default rank for 'Civilians' is Criminal/Agent; a Hood/Rookie Civilian would subtract three from each characteristic and skill while a Mastermind/“00” Civilian would instead add three.

Here are some quickly generated Non-Player Characters:

Major Villain

Privileged Henchman

Beautiful Foil

Fellow Secret Agent

Shady Contact

2 comments:

  1. Sean Robert MeaneyJuly 14, 2016 at 5:19 AM

    But Doctor Nicola inspired by 1898 portait of Anton Checkov.

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    Replies
    1. Actually, the first Dr Nikola book (with the frontispiece shown above) was published in 1895.

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