The Villain’s Glass – A New Gadget for ‘Better Angels’

Better-Angels-cover-v4-front-612pxWritten by Greg Stolze, © 2013

The Villain’s Glass

If you look at someone through this magnifying glass, you know the worst thing they ever did.

Let’s let that sink in for a moment.  Think, O Reader, about the worst thing you’ve ever done.  Now think about what a villain might do to you if he knew it.  Maybe it’s not blackmail material—after all, RPG fans with exquisite taste can’t be too bad, can they?—but just in terms of emotional abuse, that sort of knowledge is a very big stick to swing.

Now suppose you were a defense lawyer, or a judge, or a cop.  (If you are employed in one of those positions, imagine that you’re in a different one.)  What would you do to keep your secret hidden?  What would happen if you didn’t knuckle under and the story went around?

That’s the sort of mischief the Villain’s Glass enables.

The blurry bit of the equation, of course, is how one defines “worst” and, in this case, it’s what society considers most reprehensible, but “society” is almost as squishy as “worst.”  So we’ll call it “the majority view of the people in your city or state” and be done.  Thus, asked to identify the ‘filthiest sin’ of someone residing in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, the glass might reveal that he once blew a guy. If he moved to London and was subjected to the Villain’s Glass again, it might instead show that he beat up his wife pretty bad.

But vagaries of tolerance aside, the Villain’s Glass generally reveals the act that would get someone most frequently spat on in public, or would cause the most reputation damage—even if victim doesn’t think it’s wrong, and even if it might be accepted in a more tolerant (or misogynistic) corner of the world.

In addition to unveiling reviled deeds, the glass provides more-or-less plausible clues indicating why one might deduce, Sherlock Holmes style, the infraction in question.  Obviously this gives better material if you do it where the sin happened and within hours or days of its commission.  But the glass tries to work with what it has.

Activating the Villain’s Glass requires a Cunning Espionage roll.  It provides +1 to +3 secret Advantage to rolls that benefit from the knowledge of someone’s social transgression. 

Written by Greg Stolze, © 2013