(A minor family emergency stopped me from getting this out Monday night, but here I am today. Resolution!)
My favorite stories are very character driven and I endeavor to run my games in the same way. Unfortunately my boyfriend prefers to play his PCs as much more reactive: he wants to find out what problems are happening and fix them as opposed to going out and getting into every NPC's business in the name of his ideals/king/god/detective agency. Therefore, if I want a character steering events forward, I'll need a strong antagonist.
To be honest, I don't have much experience making strong antagonists. When I've written short stories in the past I tended to focus on the protagonists and any villains were more "people with differing viewpoints." Even those antagonists that were more traditionally evil were there to represent an issue within the protagonist that needed to be dealt with--a dark reflection, so to speak. All roads led back to the hero of the story and their own ambitions.
Would those sort of villains work in a tabletop RPG? Maybe. I could easily see them in a sandbox-esque game, but perhaps not in the strongly narrative-driven game my boyfriend is asking for this time around. I'd like to stretch my creative muscles as well, and try my hand at an antagonist more like Emperor Palpatine: a character whose schemes set the status-quo, putting the PC in a position where he must respond and focus his energies on undermining and ultimately stopping the villain.
Rather than just write up a generic Evil Lich King From A Far Away Land, I also want this antagonist to have a personal connection with the PC. His schemes should affect something that my boyfriend considers an important part of his PC. (Because, of course, I'm really trying to get a rise out of my player.)
I have some ideas on this front, though I think I'll save those for another post, when they are more fully formed.