A great evil is rising, gaining power and support, poised to realize its great plan to take over/remake/destroy the world. What greater adventure is there for a hero than to thwart this terrible effort?
Have you ever been reading a book, or watching a movie/show where the villain is just so compelling or cool, you just can't help rooting for him/her? Where you find yourself imagining what things would be like if the bad guys won?
How much more epic could it be for a new group of heroes to rise against the victorious darkness? While this isn't an entirely new idea, it is one with a lot of unrealized potential. The concept is used quite a bit, usually on a smaller scale. Ever start an adventure where you and your companions are prisoners that need to escape to get things started? Kind of the same idea. Often comes off as contrived and can be difficult to pull off.
Much like the classic plot of stopping the evil villain before all is lost. After a while, the idea of hacking through legions of harbingers, foot soldiers, scouts, spies, minions, lieutenants, pets, evil twins, and second-in-commands can start to feel contrived. How often do the heroes arrive just in time to stop the main villain just moments before the completion of whatever ritual, ceremony, sacrifice, opening, or button-push that will plunge the world into eternal darkness? Big climax. Big finish. Big heroes.
Ever been following a story where the hero has to keep the villain from assembling the scattered pieces of an ancient artifact to keep them from victory? You know when the hero gets one of the pieces, but the villain gets away? You ever find yourself yelling at the page or the screen? "Why do you need to chase after the villain? You won!" Because, that's why. Just, because. The artifact won't work without all the pieces, but neither will the story.
Next time, we'll discuss the ways in which the heroes can become involved in the adventure after evil has won and all is lost.