Jafar – Greatest Disney BBEG?

I’m of the firm belief that any boss reaches greatness by the reveal of “a final from”. If your Big Bad gains access to their final form by tricking the heroes, that’s a big pile of bonus points. Then, if your BBEG has another final form, but that last form is their undoing… well, there you have a fitting end to your adventure.

In short, Jafar looks like a real contender from the outset.

We’re looking for the best ‘Disney villain as the Big Bad Evil Guy’ for your Table Top RPG. Why? Why not. There have been so many superb Disney villains, and whilst power level or general awesomeness are fine ways to measure a villain, how much you would want them inspiring your Games Master’s campaign is more intriguing debate to me.

<< Last week, Cruella gave it her best shot.

This week, we measure the potential of Jafar.

Presence – 4 out of 5

A great villain for your DM/GM to roleplay. Not only because they exude delicious evilness in every syllable, but also because of his potential for showmanship. His ability to con, to act hurt or surprised, to sneer with glee when he’s winning. All great stuff.

His acting whilst in disguise though is something really useful. Most fantasy villains would use magic to disguise themselves, and not manage to be nearly as impressive as the way Jafar can contort his body (and apparently hide how many teeth he actually has).

The only minus is that, much like Cruella, we see characters standing up to him. Quite confidently in fact. Aladdin, the Sultan, Jasmine, even Iago yells at him. He’s a bundle of scene-chewing evilness, but he’s not so scary in his first form.

Atmosphere – 3 out of 5

Jafar is a villain of high station looking to take the throne. Aside from a lack of originality, this means that most of the places he loiters in are not his own. He does have a lair, but its never show as more than a dingy hole.

We get taken to a few interesting sites with Jafar, the Cave of Wonders and the Arctic/Antartic, but his presence does not truly impact the world around him until he’s got hold of Genie.

Omniscience – 4 out of 5

Straight out of the gate, Jafar has a plan. He’s weaselled out the two haves of the Scarab Pendant, he’s got the Sultan locked down and he knows the basics of the Cave of Wonders. He’s got the palace guard under his thumb and a big hour-glass-treadmill thing for when he needs to scry on someone.

He’s only fooled by the fake prince schtick for a short spell, and he’s brimming with cunning and guile. In the final fight, he’s not just beating the heroes, he’s throwing a quips and puns matching his spell choices.

The only quibble that prevents that 5 out of 5. The takedown. He’s been after the genie for what feels like a long time. He knows the guy is bound to the lamp. Yet he falls for Aladdin’s bait so easily. It’s a great finale (which we’ll get to), but in this category it’s a 1-point knock against Jafar’s intelligence.

Henchmen3 out of 5

If we’re including the palace guard in preceding’s, well, I don’t feel they minus of plus anything. They get given the run-around in the first act, but they also capture Aladdin twice. The head guard, Razoul, gets a couple of zingers off, but also bends the knee to the Sultan and Jasmine when called on.

After that, all we have is Iago. I saw ‘all we have’, but the parrot is pretty decent hench-bird. Perfect mimicry, he’s coming up with prompts for Jafar’s evil schemes and he can take a secret door being closed on him like champ. He’s the crucial part of the final move to get the lamp.

However, as Iago is the only henchmen, not really bringing any muscle or additional skills along. And in the end, Jafar is doing most of the hard work himself.

Threat Level – 4 out of 5

You have to weigh up the two ‘free’ versions to get an average score here. In a RPG with good player agency, the evil villain may not get to achieved their goal. If that happens, were dealing with Royal Vizier Jafer in the end.

That’s not a terrible thing. We’ve got access to some magic. Hypnosis is a dangerous thing in an adventure. He can also throw a dagger round with some skill, and he can slip out of danger really effectively. To put him in D&D speak, he’s matching a lot of the features of an Arcane Trickster. I’d put him at a 2 or 3 out of 5.

Sorcerer Jafar though, that’s a whole other level. ‘Most powerful sorcerer in the world’ indeed. However, there’s one fact that pulls him down – he’s not deadly.

Yes, I know it’s a Disney movie, hear me out. All that magic, that range of spells, but he’s having too much fun with it. He’s aiming to trap and humiliate, to chase and intimidate, he’s not going in for the kill. Gaston, Ratigan, Clayton… they come after their respective heroes with real intent, Jafar is in it to show off. It makes for a fantastic finale, but the threat is never fully realise.

Finale – 5 out of 5

So this is where Jafar hits the full score finally. He gives the party of heroes a real run around. He has them pinned down or running ragged, never breaking a sweat. The vicious intent may be lacking, but its a hell of a show.

He’s beatable too. That’s important. In a Table Top game, a villain that’s overpowering might seem like fun to an arrogant game keeper, but the truth is players want a challenge. They want to win, and feel like they earned it. Jafar gets bamboozled and stabbed, and that means your heroes have a chance.

Yes, the finale ends with a con, but after staring defeat in the face, of taking the fight as far as they can, the players will enjoy the solution. Or, if they’re armed and prepared, they may not need to take that route. They’ll take the hard way and bring the magic wielding serpent-sorcerer down.

Final Score = 3.83

The first form of Jafar. Can’t be too powerful, because he wouldn’t be so desperate for magic otherwise. I thought it was important to give him ‘nimble escape’; the way he disappeared after that smoke bomb, leaving the guards confused, was worthy of its own ability on the stat block.

As mentioned above, Jafar is a sorcerer that likes to torment and humiliate. A lot of the spells on his list trap, debilitate or mind control but only a few actually damage.

As soon as he pulls out shapechange though, that’s when things can get as nasty and mean as the DM wants to be.

So Jafar beats Cruella by a full two points, which doesn’t seem surprising based on power alone. But it’s more than that. A TTRPG villain based on either character would be great to possess, interactive with and take down, but Jafar is so much more in control. Not only does he have a better grasp of the narrative steering wheel, but he’s got the smarts to shift when the going gets tough. Cruella just descends more and more into screaming banshee territory.

Disney VillainScore
Jafar3.83 👑
Cruella de Vil2.00

In short, with Jafar, when he starts to lose its because the heroes are struggling for the upper hand. Cruella is more likely to take herself out.

There’s still a good gap between Jafar and ‘perfect’. Plenty of chance for the next contender to take his place.

Next week? The Queen of Hearts has her work cut out for her…

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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