The Villain’s Approach to Conflict

Sorry for the delay, folks. Below are my takes on conflict resolution archetypes rendered in light versus shadow.  The point of this exercise was to try developing characters, especially villains, based on how they navigate interpersonal friction. Let’s take the plunge, hmm?

The Accommodator: Accommodators are typified by a willingness to provide opponents what they desire to see a situation defused. Oh, is that the last piece of sushi? It’s yours. Horror movie date versus period flick? Sweetheart, it’s whatever you like. The accommodator sacrifices their own preferences either to please another or because they didn’t have a strong preference to begin with.

The Debt Collector: The Debt Collector is happy to provide another party their preference, but acts of accommodation are added to a careful ledger. Dark fairies of myth, for instance, are happy to gift you whatever you like, for now, in exchange for the smallest favors in the future. Naturally, when a victim inks such a deal, they fail to appreciate how trivial favors can be leveraged to vault a Debt Collector into positions of strength later. Nor do the naive appreciate how small favors can be deployed to levy harm when the debtor can least afford it… With the Debt Collector in play, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The Avoider: Avoiders do just as the name says. They avoid conflict either by dodging specific people or situations. Even the notion of entering conflict or articulating an open disagreement causes them anxiety. So, they take the dodge action.

The Serpent: The Serpent avoids any hint of a fair fight. Though limbless and lowly, The Serpent can find success in most every setting. They do so by operating from crevices, tall grass, night, and shadow. They wait for you to tread close to lash out from safety, and with less compassion than a viper. The Serpent waits until your guard is down and then consumes your unattended resources and offspring. The Serpent is among the most challenging foes because they flee whenever they can, before hiding their next approach even better. 

The Collaborator: Collaborators see where interests can be aligned for mutual gain. The collaborator turns enemies into allies and contacts into reinforcements. The Collaborator’s strategy requires intelligence and empathy in spades, which makes its dark parallel all the more dangerous.

The Betrayer: Not unlike The Serpent, The Betrayer seeks to resolve conflict through a kind of concealment, but they believe the best way to remain undetected is to hide in the open. These gifted actors split their attention between conveying an evolving series of masks and studying a rival’s emotions, tactics, and vulnerabilities. The Betrayer will know better than any when their victim is most compromised and from which direction to launch a devastating assault. The Betrayer enjoys the deranged courtship process of insinuating themselves into their victim’s life, perhaps enjoying small assaults as foreplay before their final reveal.

The Compromiser: Compromisers give so that they can get. They confront zero-sum games with sobriety, professionalism, and candor that disarms. Their even keels and dispassionate approaches lower hackles and bypass saber rattling.

The Haggler: The Haggler uses speed of thought and a fabricated sense of urgency to destabilize victims. The Haggler misrepresents the value of items to convince another that a worthy compromise has been reached, only for victims to realize thereafter that they’ve been had.  The Haggler doesn’t need their victims to trust them. They might even bask openly in their duplicity. The Haggler only needs for their prey to trust them for a special instant, and to exchange an item of value for fool’s gold. Enjoy your snake oil.

The Competitor:  Competitors see social conflicts as arms races, wars of attrition, and tests of might. They have confidence in their own abilities and their opponent’s weaknesses, and they relish the fray. The heady pride that swells in competitors as they work fuels them through thick and thin.

The Nemesis: Be careful when annoying strangers. For some beings out there, the outcome of your life could become the most interesting thing in theirs. The Nemesis instinctively curls their identity around a victim’s, somehow making every aspect of their being a foil of their prey’s. The Nemesis obtains greater euphoria from harming their victim than obtaining their own successes. Their life is dark and wonderful shrine to the existence of another. The Nemesis is rendered happiest when engineering the shared destruction of themselves and the object of their sycophancy, ideally in a shared ball of flame.

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