We’re not going to give a full outline for all seven zones of City of Villains, but we will give a full outline for Port Oakes, which is the first one to use the maniacal scheme system fully. After this, we’ll have one final post where we (relatively) briefly look at each of the remaining five zones, making a couple of broad notes of what kind of maniacal schemes will be present without giving multiple paragraphs of detail for what exactly each one will be about.
A New Port Oakes
Our player villain has just arrived in Port Oakes, probably having just killed or intimidated their superior in Arachnos, possibly still doing as told. Either way, this is when they start maniacally scheming. Maybe they did one scheme in the Dr. Graves tutorials, whatever. Let’s take a thorough look at how their stay in Port Oakes will go, and then give a much more brief overview of how the remaining five zones in City of Villains could be similarly converted.
Port Oakes has a lot of mafia-style mission chains in it, and frequently involves the demon-worshiping street gang called the Hellions. It also has some missions about stealing drugs to sell them (which seems like it’s kinda trying to be a “sell drugs on the street” thing but doesn’t quite know how to make that work in CoV’s mechanics), about beating up the shady anti-villain organization Wyvern and the less-shady mystic guardians in the Legacy Chain, a few where you thwart fascist terrorists in the Council from infiltrating the evil rulers of the Rogue Isles, and one where you kidnap a villain’s abused girlfriend who’s seeking shelter in the Circle of Thorns, an evil cult whom she hopes will protect her from retaliation, but who instead attempt to use her as a human sacrifice. Did you know there was a mandate against villain players hurting innocent people for CoV? Apparently kidnapping someone to bring them back to their abusive boyfriend doesn’t count as hurting them.
We have four mission chains, so in order to try and keep a better budget for both time and money, I’m going with four maniacal schemes. I am going to toss some Skulls into Port Oakes, just so I can have more criminal factions to work with. We already have the assets for the Skulls, because we’re taking those from CoH and they already show up elsewhere in CoV, so while this would be a harder alteration to make if we were modding CoV now, it’s no harder in the evil time traveling witch scenario.
-“Steal the Council’s vampyr” is a maniacal scheme that we’ve already discussed. You have to gather secret documents, infiltration gear, a set of unobtainium restraints, and optionally an origin-specific resource for the mind control ending. You meet Angelo Vendetti in a unique mission that auto-spawns and rewards secret documents, in which we meet a retainer for the Vendetti family who defected to their nemeses in the Council because his daughter got sick, the Vendetti family wouldn’t cover her medical bills, and the Council made him a better offer. You can decide to kill him anyway or else to tell the Vendetti family to pound sand. In the latter case you still get the XP for the mission but do not get the secret documents.
I want to make the Council’s vampyr-transporting seem like a super low budget deal. We’re going to have “high tech heists from high tech targets” be a theme in the next zone, so for this one we want the Council to come across as guys who are using Soviet-era hand-me-downs. I’ve even considered swapping them out for another enemy group completely, although I’m not sure which one could work. Maybe just the Marcone or Verandi families of the same Italian mafia knock-off set that gave us the Vendettis in the first place, although that would mean rewriting the ultimate goal to be not a vampire-themed super soldier but instead, I dunno, a big sack of cash or something? It’s something I’d look at more closely if I were actually redesigning City of Villains, but for a hypothetical scenario, just rewriting the existing Angelo Vendetti arc is enough to show how things work.
-“Corner the Port Oakes drug market” is a maniacal scheme in which you must first establish a gang by acquiring drugs, weapons, friends in low places, and optionally infiltration gear for the best ending, and then once you have those together, other gangs start stepping to you to try and maintain their dominance of the turf your boys are selling on, leading to unique missions against first the Skulls to take over their turf and then the Family to get them to back off, since they’re the Skulls’ supplier and they don’t like having their street level minions bounced off the street. You can take the cheap option to cut a deal with the Family or the expensive option that requires infiltration gear to unlock a special mission to kidnap the daughter of the godfather and then leave her, unharmed, at a random street corner in Port Oakes. The Family get the message and back off completely. We could use the Hellions instead of the Skulls here if we really don’t want to mess with the enemy groups assigned in the alpha timeline’s CoV for some reason, but the Skulls are the drug-associated baddies from CoH and we’re already time traveling to 2004, so we don’t really have anything to lose by making Port Oakes slightly different.
It’s in this scheme that you meet Billie Heck, the failed gang leader who decides to become your number two instead. You can’t personally manage street crime forever, so you can leave him in charge of the Port Oakes underworld after you wrap up the scheme, put Angelo Vendetti in charge instead (provided you’ve already completed the scheme where you meet him), or just walk away completely and let your meth empire descend into civil war. If you had the infiltration gear to convince the Family to back off, then either your drug empire has a monopoly on Port Oakes, or if you let it crumble then it has no competitors to muscle in on the fragments, thus maximizing chaos.
-“Steal the Book of Batlal” is a maniacal scheme in which you prepare a heist with secret documents, weapons, infiltration gear, and optionally friends in low places to find a boat used by vigilante Sea Witch and her ghost pirates and steal from it the Book of Batlal, a sinister magical grimoire that she recently liberated from one Mr. Bocor. You can sell the grimoire for more treasure, keep it for yourself and get some kind of temporary power out of it, or, if you have friends in low places, agree to let the Hellions use it to summon a demon. If you do the third thing, they lose control and you have to clean up their mess (and beat up a bunch of them in the process, because they think they can still make this work and they don’t want you shutting it down), but then you can get two temporary powers out of the deal.
-“Follow the Radio” is a maniacal scheme in which you tune into Radio Free Opportunity, do whatever it tells you to, and hope for the best. This keeps turning out really well, so you keep doing it. Basically, Radio Free Opportunity – a radio station that dispenses hot tips for cool crimes and which only you can seem to hear – is a quest giver who actually works perfectly fine with the standard MMORPG millieu (so long as it doesn’t wear out its welcome, at least – it doesn’t, but if we tried to expand it across the entire game, it would), and since we’ve folded all of our villain quests into maniacal schemes, we’re gonna use that format here. So the Radio tips you off that some Wyvern goons are meeting with some Legacy Chain goons to transport some goods, and you should crash their party. You do, and get an origin-specific resource out of the deal, along with some ciphered documents.
Next time you flip on the radio, it tells you Arachnos code-breaking programs are normally kept in high security Arachnos strongholds, but there’s a copy being stored in an Rogue Isles Police precinct temporarily to break some Council codes, and if you just so happen to need some ciphers broken now’s your chance. And hey, you never know what friends you might meet along the way. You now have an auto-spawned newspaper mission for that, which gives you a deciphering program and, optionally, friends in low places if you spring some Hellions from the holding cell there.
The deciphered documents give a location but no context, and the radio tells you that it’s a hidden monitoring base within Port Oakes where Wyvern keeps tabs on up-and-coming villains, assembling a hit list to take them out before they reach their full villainous potential. After breaking in and retrieving the list, you see your own name at the top, along with a psych note that you may be delusional because you keep committing crimes at the command of a radio voice that you claim to hear when everyone else just hears regular music (this being the reveal that you’ve been the only one who can hear Radio Free Opportunity the whole time). In addition to the big payout in treasure for auctioning the list, you also get infiltration gear stolen from the Wyvern fortress.
Oh, hey, look at that, the Radio Free Opportunity force-spawned newspaper missions gave you exactly the materials you need to get the best ending on all the other Port Oakes maniacal schemes. What a lucky coincidence.
-If we have the spare budget for one more, I’d like “Discover the Secret of the Snakes” to be a fifth maniacal scheme. You must gather up secret documents, a favor from on high, infiltration gear, and optionally an origin-specific resource in order to track down the lair of the Snakes and discover what they’re about, hopefully to leverage that to your advantage. Mongoose (originally from Mercy Island pre-i21) was an okay character and we’ll go ahead and reintroduce him here as a guy who knows how to track down the Snakes and who can give you infiltration gear if you help him with his forced-spawn newspaper mission to clear out a particularly big nest of Snakes who’ve kidnapped some vital Arachnos personnel. The kidnapping is in the paper and Mongoose is on the hook for getting these guys back, but while he’s been able to track them down in the Port Oakes sewers, there’s a lot of Snakes in this place and he wants villainous assistance clearing the nest. Once you’ve got all your materials in a row, you can track down the Snakes’ primary lair in primordial caverns deep beneath Port Oakes, confronting their ancient snake goddess (yes, this was originally endgame content, but the Snakes get dropped completely between level 5 and level 45 in the original game, which I’m pretty sure is just a result of people being disappointed by the lack of resolution to the whole Snake thing and a finale being tossed into the last ten levels to satisfy them). Mongoose shows up to stop you because if the Snakes stop menacing the Rogue Isles, he won’t be able to hunt them anymore. You can kill him, drag him back to Arachnos and tell them that he’s been hiding the secret lair of the Snakes to keep himself in a job, or help him cover up the location of the Snakes’ nest.
If you have an origin-specific resource, you can use it to examine a recovered Snake egg and discover that they are biologically immortal transformed humans, and can take on their aspect (we’ll leave it vague as to whether you’re channeling their magic, injecting their DNA into you, or what) to get a temporary power that regenerates your health.
I mainly want this because it introduces the resource of “a favor from on high,” which represents help from big deal villains like Arachnos and Aeon Corporation the same way that friends in low places represents help from street-level villains like the Hellions and the Trolls. It rounds out the common, tier one maniacal resources that are going to be the foundation of maniacal schemes at every level. Plus, while the i21 version of Mercy Island is much better than the original, I do kind of miss the Snakes, who are still around in post-i21 Mercy and Port Oakes, but no longer have any actual content associated with them. Their mobs just spawn and wander aimlessly until level 45 when we get a finale to a plot arc that never had a set up.
Speaking of a favor from on high, we have seven basic resources:
-A favor from on high
-Friends in low places
Each of these seven should be tradeable at a 2:1 ratio for any of the ones adjacent to it, or at a 3:1 ratio for any of the other four. The list wraps, so you can trade weapons for either drugs or unobtainium restraints at 2:1, and can trade weapons for any of infiltration gear, secret documents, favors from on high, or friends in low places at 3:1.