Did you say he was a six-fingered man?
Revenge is a dish best served cold. This character this trope describes has been harboring a nasty desire for vengeance for years. One day, they'll track down the dirty villain or criminal that did horrible things too them, and do horrible things right back.
This has the great advantage that if you wait long enough, the villain may have forgotten that you are hunting them and let their guard down … but on the other hand, you may also face the "But for me it was Tuesday" phenomenon.
Note also that this trope can be subverted - in a lot of cultures raiding was a normal part of life and not something to be taken personally: if one of your loved ones died in a raid, then if that didn't balance the scales from your last raid, they would be balanced next time you went raiding. The sort of genocidal vows of revenge common in fantasy novels would have been a gross overreaction for much of history1.
Game and Story Use
- A classic, and easy to relate to. Burning with rage, barely contained hatred of the one who done you wrong.
- Also a good characterisation for a PC, NPC or even antagonist - they make a point of delaying taking revenge for one reason or another.
- Eventually you'll come face-to-face with your worst enemy. Assuming you defeat them, what now?
- Make sure you've got some other character elements (such as Characterization Tropes), so there's something interesting about your character beyond the vengeance. You may be determined, but that doesn't mean you have to be one-dimensional.
- Or if 1-D is just fine with you, your could say your character has a secret deathwish as well. They are willing (and hoping) to die in the final confrontation with the old enemy. See Deathseeker. In this case, should the villain be defeated, you may just choose to retire your character and move on to a role a little less moody.
- It's always possible that you'll get over whatever motivated you to revenge before you catch up with them - sometimes living your life may become more important than killing them
- This is when the really hilarious GM makes them finally appear, possibly in a context that has nothing to do with you.
- Potential for RP/conflict if when you catch up with the villain, revenge is a lot less clear cut: perhaps they have become The Atoner, or you arrive at wherever they live in a way that mirrors the way they arrived when they committed their original crime, or you find out that what originally happened was a lot less clear cut than it appeared (for example the parent/mentor that you swore to avenge was actually a war criminal who had inspired their killers own revenge quest…).
Building This Character
- At the time of the initial tragedy you were a low-level character, but since then you've trained and practiced and grown.
- You're going to need some way of getting vengeance. This may be a simple as maxing out your melee skill, but it could also be far more complicated. Sneak Attack, Standard Status Effects, Poison, Disarm, and/or things that boost your Critical Hits are all possibilities.
- You are Obsessive, Single-Minded and Violent.
- Some systems reward you for having an NPC enemy - that villain you plan to hunt down and kill is a natural for this flavor of flaw.
- To "get over" your revenge quest (as above) buy the flaw off with earned xp. This is actually quite a good way to style a starting PC.
- The DPSer or the Glass Cannon are particularly good choices, as they'd match your personality and style.
- The Hunter is a variation where you aren't after a particular villain or monster, but rather you hunt down all monsters of the same type as the one that ruined your life. In this case, don't forget Occult, Dungeoneering or similar skills that represent what you've learned about those foes. Keep an eye open for special Abilities that protect against their powers, or which take advantage of their weaknesses.