Cruella de Vil – Greatest Disney BBEG?

“If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will” is a bold statement. Not only does it imply that Cruella is the scariest thing imaginable in the world 101 Dalmatians, but the same character that sings that line is standing up the fur-obsessed villain just a few scenes later.

Scary, to some extent, sure. Hateful, despicable and unsettling, definitely. If you’re looking for inspiration for a villain in a Table Top Role Playing Game, Cruella gives some great ideas on how you can make a your main evil guy a great source of grief for your players.

But is Cruella the Greatest Disney BBEG?

Presence – 3 out of 5

So she’s foul to every character she meets, fills the space around her with eye-stinging smoke, waltzes around like she’s about to buy and own every place she walks into. It’s a great template for a truly unlikeable (in a good way) baddy.

However, as mentioned, Roger stands up to Cruella with only a little wobble to his voice. The dogs snap and growl her too, not fully scared by her presence. Her dog-napping goons are occasional thrown by her rage-filled ranting, but their not truly phased by her.

In the end, Cruella is a mad, seething wreck furiously thrashing her car around and gnashing her teeth at the escaping dogs. Whilst that sort of frustration would bring some satisfaction to the players, it doesn’t really scream ‘Big Bad’ to me. She’s easily rattled, and when she’s in that state her competence also collapses.

Atmosphere – 2 out of 5

Aside from a decent amount of smugness and a cloud of smoke, the world around Cruella is not especially impacted by her. She fills a room in terms of volume, but once she steps away, life returns to normal.

The spooky house the dogs are held in earns her a point. It’s hardly a villains lair, but a run-down, beat-up mansion is a great environment for any TTRPG.

Omniscience – 2 out of 5

Intelligence-wise, Cruella is lacking. She’s apparently obsessed with the Dalmatian fur, but she’s wide-eyed-confused when the puppies don’t have spots yet. She also has absolutely no poker face in terms of her intentions; she’s lucky the couple don’t pick up on it, but she’s only a step removed from just yelling, “I am going to steal those puppies!” as she exits.

She’s also tricked by dogs. Clever dogs mind you, able to plan and communicate, but still, stealthing past the BBEG using coal as a disguise does not suggest and ultimate villain.

Henchmen2 out of 5

It’s certainly true that Cruella has henchmen, but there just not very good. They get a point for comedy value, but there’s no particular strength and an overwhelming sense of incompetence. Your players will enjoy encountering goons like this, but they won’t be threatened by them.

Threat Level1 out of 5

When she’s behind the wheel, there’s a very real threat that the Dalmations barely avoid. Nevertheless, Cruella is a gaunt, pale, skeletal figure that will not create any sense of danger in a strength based fight, and with out any weapons, magic or combat tricks, Cruella is only really a threat to the characters feelings.

Finale – 2 out of 5

With that in mind, a good RPG adventure does not necessarily need a conventional battle. A road race, with set pieces, could be a thrilling way to end your campaign in a satisfying, unique way.

Having the until-now, level-headed villain fly of the handle at the end might also satisfy the players, if done well. Your BBEG has been throwing insults, laughing at the heroes’ faults, all cool and calculating, but in the end they show their truth self: an angry, hissing, vengeful thing that they party has to suddenly back off from.

Final Score = 2

Cruella as a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons character. I had to decide on a weapon, otherwise she’s not much of a threat, and a modern pistol seems like something she’d have in her purse. I also had to make sure her biting insults and selfishness made it into her stats, hence the bonus action and reaction.

I’m a fan of Cruella de Vil. Most Disney villains are a delight, and de Vil’s rotten, vile approach to everyone and everything is a delight. A villain that you can enjoy hating.

But she’s not doing to be the ultimate BBEG. A good idea for an early big bad, when the party is a lower level looking for a boss they can take down on their way to the main villain. It’s not just that Cruella won’t put up much of a fight; she’s just a lot of surface level menace. A villain that would be great to roleplay as/with, but once you get past the anger and bile, the spindly, creepy guise is as shallow as her taste in clothing.

Thank you for taking part, Ms. de Vil, but you’re not the one we’re looking for. Your technically top of the leaderboard, but that will probably change next week.

Let me check my notes. Yeah, next week is Jafar from Aladdin. Sorry Cruella, you didn’t really stand a chance.

Thank You For Reading

The other Disney BBEG contenders are right here.

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Author: Rufus Scott

I am a long term Gamer, a full-time History Teacher and a part-time geek. I enjoy writing about the positive aspects of gaming, especially when it comes to education. My posts are sometimes nostalgic, occasionally irrelevant, largely meant to provoke further discussion. I'll sometimes punctuate these whimsical ramblings with a random comment on gaming and/or teaching.

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