Every epic heroic story needs a signature villain. The villain should be bigger than life, diabolical, ruthless, and shrewd. They should be a deeply flawed character who constantly craves attention and hoards power and influence. They should act seemingly in the public interest while plotting clandestine schemes to undermine his enemies. Above all, they should hold themselves above all others, squashing any ridicule or criticism in the name of absolute authoritarianism.
Sounds like our current Commander-In-Chief, doesn’t it?
Donald Trump has objectively placed himself at the top of the Worst President in History list, but there is something he would be perfect for: a D&D campaign. Any DM worth their salt dreams of one day concocting an epic villain for their players to challenge. Why not borrow from real life and homebrew The Donald into Faerün or Eberron? If you need any more convincing, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why adding Trump Tower to Waterdeep would be amazing.
Trump has a shady backstory
Donald Trump was born the fourth of five children to Fred and Mary Ann Trump. Fred was a prolific businessman who started his first business in Queens, NY when he was 15. Fred eventually turned his business into a real estate empire, eventually becoming “the Henry Ford of the home-building industry,” according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (via the New York Times). However, Fred was often accused of racism. In 1973, Fred was sued by the Civil Rights wing of the Department of Justice for violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 for not renting properties to qualified black people. He was also arrested in 1927 for failure to disperse at a KKK rally on Memorial Day in Queens. Fred Trump’s racism was so apparent that Woodie Guthrie wrote a song about him.
Donald idolized his father and knew that the only way to get out from under his shadow was to amplify everything he admired about his father, who was a consummate showman, liar, and braggart in his own right. Pressure to perform as well as, if not better than, his father claimed the life of his eldest brother, Fred Jr., through addiction and poor choices.
Donald, wanting to please his idol and avoid the problems his brother got into, proceeded to take all of his father’s traits and turned them up to eleven. This includes the egotism, the casual dishonesty, and the racism. This is a perfect foundation for the cultivation of a world class villain.
His charisma draws lots of followers
Anyone knows that in order for a true villain to be successful, they need an army. They need people to back their cause and be the perpetrators of their message and deeds. Donald Trump, through his salesperson doublespeak and his inflated ego, easily sways people to his cause by promising them that their values and ideals will be defended and disseminated until they are the cultural norm.
Sounds like a deity persuading someone to join their cult, no?
Donald Trump is certainly the head of his cult of personality, which is exactly what a great fantasy villain wants to do. They want to surround themselves with people who will do whatever they ask without question, promising them that their dreams of wealth and power will be fulfilled once their service is carried out. In reality, Trump sees his followers as simply cannon fodder and cash cows, easily replaced once their usefulness has dwindled.
Trump goes to great lengths to silence his critics and dissenters
Trump’s tirades on Twitter and TV about how the news media lies about him is not only a hallmark of fascism, but it is a trait that is essential to being a fantasy villain. Villains want to control every aspect of their image, and making sure that favorable information about them is delivered to the public is necessary to maintain a stranglehold on the general population.
He also is willing to drop allies that do not live up to his expectations or express some sort of disagreement with his policies. How many times in fantasy stories have we seen the ruler straight up murder an adviser that offers up even the slightest criticism of the ruler’s decisions? Trump hasn’t murdered anyone, but he has removed numerous members of his cabinet and senior staff, often weeks after appointing them.
He uses other powerful people to buffer his own power
Donald Trump is a businessman through and through, and he’s willing to leverage a few incentives to powerful people to get them to join his ranks. Billions of dollars in tax cuts for corporations is a good way to make sure CEOs keep contributing money and lip service to Trump’s presidency and his personal business holdings. This also keeps them from challenging him for power and influence, which is another signature trait of a good villain. Keep those who could oppose you from ever growing to overthrow you by giving them what they want in exchange for wealth which can be turned around and used against them in the future.
And with the recent summit with Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Trump is willing to ally himself with other villains to pursue a common goal. This is a supervillain team up for the ages. Imagine if Vecna and Tiamat allied against the heroes of the Forgotten Realms. Nothing good can come of it. However, we do know that these team-ups usually end when one villain’s ego oversteps the other’s. But that only means that we suffer in the end.
He has an impressive cast of generals and lieutenants
No villain can succeed unless they have trusted subordinates that fully believe in their leader’s cause and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. For Donald Trump, they come in the form of his family, namely his children and their spouses.
Melania Trump seems to just be along for the ride. She doesn’t really care about what her husband does as long as her quality of life is maintained. One might consider her apathy to be even worse than actually perpetuating evil, and I’m inclined to agree. She would make for a formidable mini boss.
Donald Jr. and Jared Kuschner are perfect examples of right hand men for a villain. They are Trump’s death knights, relentless in perpetuating his cause and backing him regardless if the decisions he makes are horrific or idiotic. They know where their bread is buttered and their selfish reasoning for sticking with Trump shows every time they open their mouths.
However evil the son and son-in-law are, I don’t think they are as devious as Ivanka. Ivanka comes off as an all-American girl, mom, and smart businesswoman. But under that façade lies the beginnings of a new epic villain. She has all the tools to succeed her father in his empire, and she will do so under the guise of the rising feminist movement. She will claim her throne as a success of powerful women, tainting the efforts of women who actually put forth the effort to bring women’s issues to the forefront. She will ride that wave all the way to the top.
That leaves us with Baron. Not much is ever reported about him because of his age (and that’s a good thing for him), but I see the potential for him to grow up not agreeing with everything his father has done. There is a chance that he can come out from under that shadow and use his name to do some good in this world. He could be the epic hero that rises from under the thumb of his villain father and slay the monster that has become the Trump family name.
I think that if I ever needed to formulate a villain for a campaign, I would use Donald Trump as a template for it. All of the trademark traits are there: the ego, the thirst for power, the lying and manipulation. He has all the tools as well. He’s got a family that is behind him, wealthy “friends” that continue to inflate his ego and keep his image afloat, and the willingness to enter into an alliance with another villain. His supporters rally around him even though they are simply being used by him to further his agenda. They are blissfully ignorant to the fact that they are being used as tools to lay waste to society and mold it in the image of its destroyer. Just like a great villain would.