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RPG Superstar 2015

Lyell, Deacon of Ash


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a villain stat block

1 to 50 of 69 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 aka Scipion del Ferro

Lyell, Deacon of Ash
Portrait: 25
Description: Lyell stands tall with a dour expression on his chiseled face. A thick robe parts to reveal his gray armor, on which smolders engraved Osiriani glyphs. When he draws his sword of ashen flame, his shadowed eyes gleam with fel intent.
Motivations/Goals: Lyell was raised under the tutelage of a madman. Once, his father was a cleric in the thrall temples of Geb, until his handsome features attracted the attention of Countess Qeket, a Blood Lord. After the vampire consumed him, she threw the shattered man aside. Months later, the countess returned to dump a pale, squalling infant in his lap. Over the years, Lyell's father instilled a hatred of Gebbite society within the boy. Together they summoned demons, with whom pacts were made and powers of chaos bargained. Lyell became a dark figure, one who seeks to crush the foundation of undead rule. To break the structure of Geb the antipaladin has gathered others who would revel in anarchy. The Blood Lords shall know their place, or the country will burn.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
--Under Lyell's command, his gathered minions have begun kidnapping and destroying Blood Lords. The Lords would pay a hefty reward to have this seditionist stopped.
--Lyell has acquired one of the harlot queen’s relic-organs. From his fortress monastery he is using it in an unholy ritual to cripple Queen Arazni. A Knight of Ozem wants the item captured before Arazni’s servants reclaim it.

LYELL CR 9
Male dhampir antipaladin 9
CE Medium humanoid (dhampir)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +1
===== Defense =====
AC 25, touch 13, flat-footed 24; (+10 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 90 (9d10+36)
Fort +14, Ref +10, Will +11 (+2 vs. disease and mind-affecting effects)
Defensive Abilities negative energy affinity, resist level drain
===== Offense =====
Spd 20 ft.
Melee +1 grayflame greatsword +14/+9 (2d6+7)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9)
3/day--detect undead
Special Attacks channel negative energy (5d6, DC 18), cruelty (nauseated, sickened, or staggered, DC 18), touch of corruption (5d6, 8/day)
Antipaladin Spells Prepared (CL 6th, concentration +10)
2nd--darkness, invisibility
1st--command (2; DC 15), doom (2; DC 15)
===== Tactics =====
During Combat Lyell declares smite on any cleric or paladin, followed by activating his fiendish bond. Next round Lyell activates his sword's grayflame ability and attacks with Power Attack and Vital Strike.
Morale If below 15 hit points, Lyell imbibes potions to assume an invisible, gaseous form and flees. He knows not all battles can be won.
===== Statistics =====
Str 18, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 18
Base Atk +9; CMB +13; CMD 26
Feats Cleave, Lunge, Power Attack, Toughness, Vital Strike
Skills Bluff +18, Intimidate +16, Knowledge (religion) +13, Perception +1; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Perception
Languages Common, Osiriani
SQ aura of cowardice, aura of despair, aura of evil, detect good, fiendish bond (weapon), plague bringer, smite good 3/day (+4 to attack roll, +9 damage), unholy resilience.
Combat Gear flask of five fifths (potion of gaseous form, potion of inflict serious wounds (3), potion of invisibility); Other Gear +1 dastard full-plate, +1 grayflame greatsword, amulet of natural armor +2, belt of physical might +2 (Strength and Constitution), cloak of resistance +2, headband of alluring charisma +2, ring of protection +2, robe of bones.
===== Special Abilities =====
Resist Level Drain (Ex) Lyell takes no penalties from energy draining effects, though he can still be killed if more negative levels than his Hit Dice are accrued. After 24 hours, any negative levels are removed without the need of additional saving throws.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Okay, Cody. You've gone two for two so far and it's gotten you into the Top 16. But the competition gets a lot harder from here on out. And that's no different in how the judges will critique your stuff. So brace yourself as I dive under the hood and mark through this thing like I'd do if I were an editor. My comments are mostly going to come instream as I review stuff, and understand that anything I point out is meant to improve you and your designs. I'll also spoiler everything for length:

Spoiler:

First up, I notice right away that you hit the exact maximum word count. Sometimes, that's a sign of a writer who can't rein in their verbosity (I should know!)...but, I don't think that's the case with this assignment. The 600-word limitation imposed on this assignment is brutal. It means every word counts. And you certainly made sure you used all of them to get across your villain concept and stat-block.

So, let's talk about your choice of villain. At first, I was taken aback to see an antipaladin and I had to quickly go check the Round 3 rules...and sure enough, although it's not technically an archetype, it was included as an available option. Way to examine all the allowable possibilities and push the envelope a bit. Some, however, might see the antipaladin as a safer thematic choice...as it immediately screams villain. But, on the technical side there's the potential risk of how much an antipaladin's abilities can eat up word-count in the stat-block. Regardless, I don't think you played it safe here. It appears to me like you're taking a risk. And, at this point of the competition, that's a good thing. And, given the popularity of antipaladins, I think you've made a wise choice to appeal to the voters. And I like it, but that's only a small part of the assignment. You may have chosen wisely. Now we have to see what you did with that choice.

Right off the bat, I go into your descriptive text about Lyell, the Deacon of Ash, and although the first sentence is fine for setting the scene, the rest of the descriptive text comes off more like read-aloud text to me than a villain's description. You also end with the statement that his "eyes gleam with fel intent"...which should be "fell" intent, I believe. So, I'm left wondering if you proofread or spellchecked this thing before submitting.

Regardless, we get into Lyell's motivations and goals and you seem to have lost focus here. Instead of straightaway telling us about his motivations and goals, you're conveying more backstory about him in order to get around to explaing the movtivations and goals. You're sort of burying your lead here, as it were. Also, with what you've written, it's confusing to read (at least for me). From everything you've stated, I took away that:

1) Lyell was raised by a madman.
2) His father was a cleric in Geb...though you don't tell us of which god.
3) Apparently a powerful vampire was attracted to Lyell's dad and "consumed" him before throwing the "shattered" man aside. At first, I read that to mean she killed him and Lyell's dad returned as a vampire. Or, that she killed him and he was dead-dead. But apparently not, as you go on to say...
4) The vampire returned and handed Lyell's father a baby. So...Lyell's dad got the vampire pregnant? And that's how Lyell became a dhampir? And Lyell's dad is...a normal human? A vampire? Unsure.
5) Lyell's dad raised him as an antipaladin with an extreme hatred of Gebbite society and the undead...which makes him seem less like a villain than someone who's just got it out for punishing the vampire Blood Lords of Geb.

So, although I get a sense of Lyell's purpose in life, I don't get a sense of what his motivations and goals are to be a powerful villain in Golarion or an adventure. I'll be honest. I think this is a serious mis-step. This antipaladin (though a willing pact-maker with demons, etc.) comes off more like an anti-villain to me. Villainous, perhaps, but the lesser of two evils in the greater scheme of things. As the reader, I'm actually left wanting to know more about the callous Blood Lords of Geb than the dhampir antipaladin who wants to bring them down.

Next, we dive into your villain's schemes, plots, and adventure hooks. I'm hoping to find something more compelling here that will offset my initial impressions and concerns about the level of Lyell's villainy. But, alas, that's not what we get. Instead, he's kidnapping and slaying vampires and he's trying to cripple the super-villain Queen Arazni with one of her relic-organs. Again, I fail to see how this makes him anything more than an evil vs. evil villain. And I'm not sure why any PCs would be particularly interested in stopping him. Better to bring down Arazni and release her from her accursed state than to worry about a "crusading" anti-vampire dhampir antipaladin.

Alright, so, let's set all that aside and take a look at your stat-block. I go into this looking for some polished work. But, I can see right off that you forgot to include a deity name to go along with his antipaladin class. Every cleric, paladin, etc. generally is listed as a [Gender][race][class] of [deityname][level]. And, I'm not sure you got the CR right for a dhampir. He's pretty much a balanced PC-eligible race just like a human or elf, so he should be the usual class level minus 1 to determine his CR. Everything after that looks okay on a cursory examination until I get up to Lyell's hit points. It appears you mis-calculated something there. The value should be 9d10's at 5.5 hp average each, plus 18 from his Con plus 9 from Toughness plus another 9 from favored class.

A little further down, I can see you've left off the "/19-20" critical threat range you should normally specify for a greatsword. Under Spell-Like Abilities, it should be CL 9th rather than CL 9, and you need to list a concentration value. You also didn't include his Antipaladin Spell-Like Abilities for the at-will detect good with its own CL and concentration values. And, under his Antipaladin Spells, it appears you've given him one more 1st level spell than he's entitled to have (should be 2+1/1+1).

Your tactics seem okay. It appears that he's making use of your flask of five fifths in his Morale section to quickly drink two potions at a time, but I would have liked to see you call that out. Employing the grayflame ability on his sword is pretty cool to combine with his smite ability. I would have liked to see you specify the activation of his armor's dastard ability at the same time, just to remind the GM. But, you were running short on words, obviously.

Your ability scores, BAB/CMB/CMD, feats and skills are all appropriate. But you've got Lyell's smite good ability under Special Qualities when it should be under Special Attacks. And, it appears you've grossly overspent on his gear. Just totalling up his armor, weapons, and wondrous items contributing to his AC, he's already verging into PC wealth levels, which means you should bump his CR up again by another +1. And, at this point, I should note that I'm coming away from reading your "villain" as if it's more like a PC anyway. Rightly or wrongly, it just feels like a PC writeup to me rather than a terrifying villain who's carved out a significant niche in the world of Golarion.

So, for the purposes of this round, I'm going to assess each villain according to concept, evocative description/flavor, appropriateness of the applied archetype, interesting/villainous tactics, and mechanical execution of the stat-block. So, here's how I'd rank this one:

Spoiler:

Villain Concept: Average (not villainous enough)
Flavor Text: Good (you write well)
Appropriate Alternate Class: Average
Interesting Tactics: Average
Stat-Block Execution: Average to Poor

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: I really went into this one expecting a rocking, villainous antipaladin. But, the descriptive text, motivations, and schemes don't come off as particularly villainous to me...although the potential was certainly there. In addition, you had several missteps in your stat-block and an easily spellchecked typo in your descriptive text. That causes me to question your attention to detail and ability to produce publisher-ready material.

Thus, somewhat surprisingly, I do NOT recommend this villain to advance to the next round. But perhaps your good showing so far will carry you through the voting. Best of luck.

Dark Archive Contributor

Congratulations on reaching Round Three. My job is to comment on your character concept, not the rules. Also, I’ll leave typos and low-level writing issues to the mercies of the other judges.
I’m hoping to see villains with a compelling motivation and clear goal. I’ll try to point out both strengths and weaknesses before making a simple yes/no recommendation. Good luck in the voting!

Lyell’s appellation is my favorite of the lot, perhaps because of the word “Deacon” making the otherwise heavy-metal name a little jazzier. The description is totally heavy metal, which is both good and bad. Better when you’re on the cover of a Molly Hatchet album, naturally.

You flirt with the “he’s crazy” problem with “under the tutelage of a madman,” but you offer hope for greater depth when you add that Lyell “seeks to crush the foundation of undead rule.” These are the brightest moments in the motivation section, and I’d love to have seen made more specific.

I like the adventure hooks, especially the more specific second one. It makes me wonder whether the entire motivation/goals section would be stronger with a narrower focus on revenge against Countess Qeket.

You have been weighed and measured:
Regrettably, I vote not to advance this one.

Contributor

A dhampir and an antipaladin, very ambitious! Let's see how it turns out.

I like the idea of a CE anarchist trying to take down a LE dictatorship.

I don't spot any problems in your stat block that our stat block spreadsheet wouldn't catch (I look for manually-entered data like correctly alphabetizing languages, SQ's, and so on).

I'd like to hear more about this villain, and I can see him and his minions getting some "good" use in a campaign.

Paizo Employee Developer

Hey Cody! Congrats on making it into the top 16. I'm approaching all of this round's entries with a developer's eye, as the man who will ultimately be developing the winner's Module and the top 4 contestants' Pathfinder Society Scenarios. So let's assume you're one of those four designers and this is a villain you base your adventure around. What's my reaction when this comes in as your idea for a villain for your big adventure?

First off, way to swing for the fences with a dhampir antipaladin. Don't hold anything back! Ambitious choice, so let's see how you did...

My main takeaway from this is, "how can my anti-Geb PCs ally with this guy?" That's not a great villain trait. I get that he wants to destroy an established nation and use CE methods to do so, but still, my paladin is going to want to work with this guy to bring down Geb.

The backstory here seems to have been an afterthought of the seemingly sure-fire winner of a dhampir antipaladin, but the concept should come first, stats second. As Neil mentioned thoroughly above, it's unclear exactly how this guy came to be, and what or who his father was. These are a big deal for someone who's essentially the undead equivalent of a planetouched race. It should be clearer, as should his actual strategies for bringing Geb's rulership to its knees. Like I said, most players are going to want to see this happen, and often the enemy of my enemy is not my enemy. A strong villain should be the PCs' enemy no matter what they do. Otherwise the whole adventure may fall apart.

I don't see any major issues in presentation with the statblock, so you maintain your standing as one of the favorites in that regard, but I'm honestly a little disappointed with the description section. That's one problem with being a leader in the first two rounds: the bar gets set higher for you. In the end, I hope to see you in later rounds because of the quality of your past work, but on its own merits, I don't think this particular entry is particularly strong.

FINAL VERDICT: I DO NOT recommend this villain for advancement to the next round. Best of luck in the vote.

CEO, Goblinworks

Summary: 2.5 Points
Recommendation: Recommended for advancement

Cody my approach to this round was as a brand manager. I'll leave the detailed mechanical analysis to the others. If I were in charge of the product this villain would appear in, I'd be thinking the following:

Did you follow the instructions?

You picked the grim dude and you gave us a vampire grim dude.

1 Point

Is this villain memorable and will it add value to my IP?

I think you've done something really unusual here. You haven't created an NPC so much as you've created a plot device.

The PCs are unlikely to fight this guy other than in some very contrived double-cross type mission. Rather, this guy is likely to foment problems that the PCs might become enmeshed in. Depending on the campaign and the characters they might even fight by his side for a time.

He's kind of like Saruman in Lord of the Rings. He's a bad dude, but he's not the focus of evil in the world (or even in the realm where he lives).

Done right, he becomes Lord Soth. Done wrong and he's Count Dooku.

.5 Points

Does the villain's concept make sense within the IP?

You gave us way too much backstory. I think maybe you felt it necessary to justify the dhamphir/antipaladin thing. Really you can just say "he's a dhampir/antipaladin" and move on to the active voice of what he's doing. If there's a need (or interest) in the backstory, we'll commission a novel.

.5 Points

What's the twist? (All great villains have a surprise within them)

Not much twist here. He's a raging volcano of anger out to tear down a corrupt and evil regime. The fact that he's also corrupt and evil (but in a different way) is about it in terms of a twist.

.5 Points

Paizo Employee Designer

Howdy. I’m Stephen, and I will be one of your guest judges for this round of RPG Superstar. I’m looking at the stat block purely based on what I consider fun or interesting to run. I have a little experience with that. That means the villain should be evocative, clear, effective, and big extra credit points go for interesting. There’re a lot of good villains out there, yours needs to stand out is some way.

I approve of this guy’s message. I will sign his petition. I agree with Mark that I want my evil-hating PCs to team up with this guy, but I think that’s okay. I’m sure Lyell’s and the PCs’ goals will come into conflict later.

I think his motivations are evocative and fun. I think his stat block is well constructed and he has a number of interesting tactics and magic items to aid in his daunting goal.

You had me at, “The Blood Lords shall know their place, or the country will burn.” And clinched it with a great presentation on this bad boy. I guess I’m not suffering from dhampir fatigue after all.

I recommend this guy for advancement. Good luck in the voting, Cody.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

I have to agree with Neil on this one. Although the concept is decidedly catchy, and the stat-block errors are pretty minor, his backstory is written in a rather confusing and counter-intuitive way. In addition, his villainous plot-hooks all seem like the sort of things that PCs would do. He hates vampires, and I can respect that, but he sounds more like a plot device or an unusual ally than a villain for most games. Unless the PCs were playing vampires. Evil vs. evil villains can be tricky to pull off and although this sort of character might be really cool in a home game, I don't know how well they'd fit in a Superstar-level published product.

I do not think I will be voting for this entry.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Hello, former competitor! I'm glad to be able to speak freely now that I've been eliminated.

You're at a bit of a disadvantage, having been the clear favorite in Round 2. This means that expectations are quite high for your work.

I like this guy, actually. I like that you include ways for him to be a villain for several different types of parties of various alignments and motivations. I would've liked to see a hook about him reaching outside Gen in his crusade, such as kidnapping a LG McGuffin to sacrifice to his demon buddies for more power. But, I can see him doing this without hesitation, so the implication might be enough.

My first thought is a thumbs up, but I went to read your entry first and have nothing to compare it to. I'll be back after reading everyone's entry.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4 aka Scipion del Ferro

Thank you very much for your responses and criticism, judges and guest judges. I look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say as well. I will be respond as best I can once the voting has closed. Until then, don't forget to vote!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

Welcome to the ranks of the undead. I'm big on this guy, but I really agree that he seems like a PC. It might be tough to keep him on the PC's bad side, especially if you've got dubiously motivated PCs. I like that you went dhampir here, especially since he doesn't look like the drow-ish figure presented in B2, it shows a willingness to bend things just enough to make them cool. You've got a bit of a disconnect with his origins and motivations, but a tight word limit will do that. I'm not sure if he's a villain, but he's certainly cool.


The story starts off well, but I see a few plot holes such as what happened to his father exactly. The guy is a villain, but I would side with him to get rid of undead, and what are his motivations after that? Actually he seems more like an anti-hero than a real villain to me.

Spoiler:
Right now I am not feeling this one enough to advance it

Scarab Sages

One of the more interesting aspects of the alignment system is that good characters might find themselves motivated to agree with evil characters, in some special circumstances (like, say, agreeing that Geb is bad), and these are the times that *really* test the good characters, unlike the two-dimensional villains that are just plain icky.

I like that sort of moral complication, as it makes the alignment roleplay not quite as cut and dried as 'evil = kill it.'

It’s the kind of literary conflict we don’t otherwise get to see much in standard good vs. evil games. We have plenty of Character vs. Character, or Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Society, but this sort of ‘villain’ allows us to explore Character vs. Self. Will my character’s morality or ethos allow him to temporarily ally with this evil against that greater evil? What sort of risks do I take in doing so? Will the lesser evil’s plans or aid end up resulting in my abetting acts of evil he takes in pursuit of our shared goals?

Interesting choice of a villain, and one that offers a more thoughtful encounter than just another speed-bump on the way to next level.


I'm always a fan of characters that push the boundaries of morality - villains who do what they do because they are good guys and think the end justifies the means, and the like. I voted for this villain on the basis of potential; I don't think the execution is quite there, the judge's comments seemed pretty much on the mark. Despite the general 'no' recommendation, I voted yes because I can see the potential for a fascinating villain here - one who opposes other villains for his own benefit, but who also commits evil acts, leaving the PCs in the quandary of supporting him or not. I would have this Villain ally with the PCs and use them as cover, protection, and (if necessary, fall guys) while he persues his own agenda. That whiff of alliance and betrayal is what persuades me that he rises above the threshold from no to yes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Set wrote:

One of the more interesting aspects of the alignment system is that good characters might find themselves motivated to agree with evil characters, in some special circumstances (like, say, agreeing that Geb is bad), and these are the times that *really* test the good characters, unlike the two-dimensional villains that are just plain icky.

I like that sort of moral complication, as it makes the alignment roleplay not quite as cut and dried as 'evil = kill it.'

Interesting choice of a villain, and one that offers a more thoughtful encounter than just another speed-bump on the way to next level.

I think you hit the nail on the head Set. I always have an issue with villains who are evil for the sake of being evil. I like villains who maybe want to make the PCs think about doing things that are shady, a sort of tempting to the dark side sort of thing.


I actually really liked this one too. Too much backstory and justification, but I kind of like that. I think the writing is well done, and while I think the villain could be better, I've been very impressed with Cody in everything he's done so far and really am quite excited to see how he'll progress into the pitching an adventure part. If he doesn't make it that far, I hope he posts his idea or submits it anyways through the idea form, because he's got some good ideas and I think he'd make an excellent designer.


Tragic and twisted villain. Fighting fire with fire leads to interesting ambiguities.

Recommended.

Regards,
Ruemere

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

Very good writing in this piece, though possibly a bit over-written. Even so, I'd rather have more good writing on a villain than a weak concept that leaves me searching. The sweet spot's the light brush that captures the villain in just a few sentences, of course.

The villain itself is a tough sell for me. I don't like half-vampires, and I'm sick to death of undead knights. Still, he makes good use of that concept, especially within the context of Geb where the undead are normally good servants.

In my "maybe" stack.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

Cody,

Best of luck with your villain entry! Here's my thoughts, written before I've read anybody else's.

Concept: "Hates Geb" is a solid characterization, and carries your "deacon of ashes" theme very nicely. I feel it's a bit thin, though - I don't see much here beyond "Lyell hates Geb." I feel like you had a really cool hook ("raised by a madman"), but then you spent too much time on his father's history (instead of simply "Lyell's father hates the Gebbites ever since a Blood Lord countess made him her plaything," or some such), and spent almost no time on Lyell himself. I'm also uncertain how villainous you can call a person who's out to topple undead rule, and seems to be doing a decent job at it.

Plot Hooks: Well, you're expecting the PCs to throw their lot in with the Blood Lords and the Harlot Queen. I don't know Geb really well, so I might be way off on this, but: is that a reasonable expectation? I hope other people, more familiar with the Golarion cannon, can clear this up for me.

Mechanics:
- Int 12, Wisdom 8? What kind of rebel mastermind is he meant to be? Unless he's got really clever followers, I'd expect him to be caught and executed post haste. Or get himself killed bargaining with demons.
- Why all the Bluff? There's nothing about that in the description.
- I like that you've used your Flask of Five Fifths - but why all the potions of inflict serious wounds? Is this some kind of trap? That seems... odd. Or at least, unrelated to everything else.

Use of Archetype: I was disappointed here; use of the archetype seems to be entirely on the mechanics side. By the description, this character could have been any of a dozen class/archetype combinations. What's more, this archetype seems to be a help mostly in battle, and not very much in actually attaining Lyell's goals.

Use of Portrait: Bam. I saw the portrait; then I saw the name you chose, and went YES. I think you made really good use of having/getting to use a portrait by finding a really great name for one of them.

All in all, there's some nice stuff in here, but I'm afraid nothing stands out as being particularly good. I've really liked your previous entries, and I like that you seem to prefer the solid-and-understated over going gonzo. But I think this entry simply failed to find it's spark, and being so disconnected from the archetype you chose is also a big point against you in my book.

Wishing you lots of luck! :)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

composermike wrote:
I'm always a fan of characters that push the boundaries of morality - villains who do what they do because they are good guys and think the end justifies the means, and the like. I voted for this villain on the basis of potential; I don't think the execution is quite there, the judge's comments seemed pretty much on the mark. Despite the general 'no' recommendation, I voted yes because I can see the potential for a fascinating villain here - one who opposes other villains for his own benefit, but who also commits evil acts, leaving the PCs in the quandary of supporting him or not. I would have this Villain ally with the PCs and use them as cover, protection, and (if necessary, fall guys) while he persues his own agenda. That whiff of alliance and betrayal is what persuades me that he rises above the threshold from no to yes.

I see what you're saying, and I like that a lot too.

But I don't see any emphasis on the actual evil acts this villain might be committing. He might be evil if he won, took over, and started promoting anarchy. But he doesn't seem to be doing anybody (innocent) much damage now, or for quite some time to come.

Sovereign Court

Standback wrote:
He might be evil if he won, took over, and started promoting anarchy. But he doesn't seem to be doing anybody (innocent) much damage now, or for quite some time to come.

I agree that going more into detail about what he is doing NOW rather than focusing on his backstory would have been a good move.

But, I can immediately think of ways to use The Deacon to wreak pain and havoc -- I mean really, do you think innocents don't get burned when a country is brought down (even an evil country)?

I think one of Cody's strengths as a designer is his subtlety; you just need to take a little time, close your eyes and lean back in your chair for a minute, to see the spark in this submission. Too many submissions in years past, especially villains and monsters, are gonzo-cool ideas that really wouldn't be that interesting in play from a PCs perspective.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

Standback wrote:


Mechanics:
- I like that you've used your Flask of Five Fifths - but why all the potions of inflict serious wounds? Is this some kind of trap? That seems... odd. Or at least, unrelated to everything else.

As a dhampir, Lyell is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive. He's got the potions for himself.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
Standback wrote:


Mechanics:
- I like that you've used your Flask of Five Fifths - but why all the potions of inflict serious wounds? Is this some kind of trap? That seems... odd. Or at least, unrelated to everything else.
As a dhampir, Lyell is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive. He's got the potions for himself.

Oh! Right. Yes. That makes a lot more sense, thanks :D


Since I am not the most knowledgeable player when it comes to mechanics, I just look at these villains and think 'Would I enjoy fighting this guy?' With this particular villain I can definitely say yes. Aren't the best bad guys the ones with moral depth? Think about Two-Face from The Dark Knight! Thumbs up on the Deacon of Ash from me!

Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Regarding CR:

Neil Spicer wrote:
And, I'm not sure you got the CR right for a dhampir. He's pretty much a balanced PC-eligible race just like a human or elf, so he should be the usual class level minus 1 to determine his CR.

And

Quote:

And, it appears you've grossly overspent on his gear. Just totalling up his armor, weapons, and wondrous items contributing to his AC, he's already verging into PC wealth levels, which means you should bump his CR up again by another +1.

So -1+1= just right.

(Edited to fix a small copy/paste goof.)

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

Elora wrote:
But, I can immediately think of ways to use The Deacon to wreak pain and havoc -- I mean really, do you think innocents don't get burned when a country is brought down (even an evil country)?

Sure, but that doesn't make the Deacon a villain, any more than Winston Churchill. He could make a great questionable ally; a great wild card; a great NPC of many types. As it stands at the moment, though, his being cast as a villain is unsupported in the entry. (Not inconceivable. Just not indicated.)

Elora wrote:
I think one of Cody's strengths as a designer is his subtlety; you just need to take a little time, close your eyes and lean back in your chair for a minute, to see the spark in this submission.

Hear, hear :) I agree with you entirely on that; that's a rare skill in these areas, and Cody's one of my favorites in this contest precisely because he's very good at it.

...don't slack off just 'cause you're getting my vote, though! :P

Kudos, Cody. You've got some great stuff, and a freshly-minted fan base!

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

mln84 wrote:
Regarding CR:...So -1+1 = just right.

It could be. But, if that's the intent, a designer has to include the Exceptional Resources (Ex) special ability to call out the +1 CR bump to offset it. You can't just handwave it.

Sovereign Court Dedicated Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Not super crazy about this guy in the way he was fleshed out.

Also, way too much gear (although if you want a villain to be able to stand up to a party of PC's for more than a round or two when he's fighting by himself, they do need that much gear).

But I do like the concept.

I'm teetering on the edge on voting for you, but your solid contributions in past rounds might push you over the edge to get my vote, unless I find 8 others I like better.


This was kindof an average entry for me, but your Hound Master was a clear winner/standout from last round whereas there is no clear winner this round IMO. Based on your Hound Master, you got one of my six votes this time...

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Evil vs. evil, eh? I like it. You can still be a villain, even if the object of your villainy is other villains. The key point is whether he is a legitimate adversary for the PCs. Sure, they can ally with him here or there, but at the end of the day they need to be across the table from each other.

I'm not sure his villainy works as well as his role as an antihero, so I think some more work on his motivations to make sure they are more prone to clashing with the PCs would have helped.

I like him but I don't love him. I'd put this villain in the 'will consider' pile.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think my biggest issue here is that he is not a villian. I can totally see this being a PC, and don't really see any reason for the players to go out and stop him. Your PC motivations sink to being hired by an evil organization to fight him. I think that should have been an indication that while you have a really cool, evocative character, maybe he is not the villian your looking for. Players seeking to overthrow an evil regieme will have a bounty on their heads, after all.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I really wanted this one to be outstanding, and in fact this entry is getting my vote simply based on the strengths of Cody's previous two efforts.

Overall, however, it seems sort of ... well ... dull. Part of that is, I guess, because the information seems to be all over the place.

Unlike last round's entry, this one feels rushed. I suspect that's because he was fighting to get everything crammed into the 600 words, which is a shame.

But, hopefully it'll be stepped up next round; the previous two rounds prove that he can put out quality material.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

This guy gives off more of an anti-hero vibe than a true villain one. He kinda reminds me of a Dr. Doom type character. The PCs are likely to team up with him occasionally, but ultimately, perhaps repeatedly, will try to kick his evil butt.

Dr. Doom is my all-time favorite "villain", so that works for me.

Shadow Lodge

Okay, so I admit I didn't read the round rules, but I thought the antipaladin was an alternate class, not a class archetype? They are making this distinction pretty strongly on the ultimate combat playtest (gunslingers and ninjas also being alternates, not archetypes).

I think people complaining that this could easily be a PC means you're doing a good job, Cody. That means Lyell has a good motivation and feels organic. The same goes for the Gentleman Knave entry, he is CN and could easily be a PC in someone's party, but he's still a villain through and through.

Scarab Sages

His alignment and lack of morals (or ethics) would need to be played up by the GM 'in the breach,' so to speak, to make him more of a villain in play.

Being both chaotic and evil, he'd think nothing of inconveniencing the vampiric blood lords by arranging a deadly plague among the herd of blood-thralls (since he grew up in that life, and would likely think that they'd be better off dead), preferably one that ruined the blood, somehow (a hemmhoragic fever, or, perversely, ghoul fever, creating 10,000 cannibals in a land with no surviving people to eat and toppling the 'undead aristocracy' by sheer weight of numbers, as the nation becomes all 'chiefs' and no 'Indians'), or leading a group of adventurers into a no-win battle with more Blood Lords than they'd intended to face (warning the single Blood Lord they were supposed to kill, so that she invites a couple of high level friends, basically setting both sides up for a bigger fight than they'd expected) and then burning the manor-house down with all of them inside it, in some vicious triple-cross.

Neither he, nor the Gentleman Rake, are lawful, or particularly motivated to keep their 'promises,' even if the PCs temporarily think they are fighting on the same side. (Sam did a good job of hammering this point home with his first and third Story Hooks, where lots of innocent people would die to advance the Gentleman Rake's vengeance-driven agenda. Cody's story hooks didn't really make this point and made him seem a bit more like a natural ally for Geb-hating good PCs.)

The 'sudden but inevitable betrayal' from the dude you knew you shouldn't have trusted is an honored trope.


???????

Some points.

1. A dhampir anti-paladin is cool, but not original. It's what dhampirs were made for since they can heal themselves, thus the only non-undead that works as an anit-pally.

2. If your players team up with this guy then they deserve every horror that will be visited upon them. He's a CHAOTIC EVIL anarchist. He will kill your players for their magic items since he wouldn't trust them to serve him while their stuff is shinier than his.

3. He is not a lesser evil, he's a greater one! If he won then Geb would be worse for it. This is a reason for the Blood Lords to team up with your players, not the other way around. The fact that some people a viewing this guy as a sympathetic villain displays a short-sightedness I have not seen in awhile.

4. For all the reasons above, he is still a great villain. Unlike most people I like the fact that everything isn't spelled out. I like that if I wanted to I could stat up his father however I wanted.

Mechanically.

Normally a dhampir would be level -1 for CR, which I thought might have been an error on your part. His hit points are 25 off for a CR 9, but his ability to heal himself up to 4 times a day as a swift action for 5d6 damage (17 hp on average) gives him roughly 70 additional hp. His AC is good for his CR, but he pays for it with a low movement and no viable ranged attacks. The nature of smite means that ranged attacks are a must and he should've had an awesome bow instead of that mediocre sword. Grayflame is thematically cool, but mechanically bad and if I was running this guy in an encounter I'd never activate it unless he had haste on him and the target couldn't just move away.

Without smite active on the target his attacks are woefully below average for his CR, even with the really bad grayflame ability. On a smited target his damage picks up a fair amount so that does help. Add in Power Attack and he really is putting the hurt out, but again, he needs a ranged attack or he's not going to be getting the damage out consistently.

His big ability is damage dealing. You only activate his cruelties if the players are getting trounced and you want to give them a fighting chance, since that touch of corruption is far less threatening than his pure damage deal. His saves are what makes him more than viable as a CR 9 villain since it means the fight shouldn't end after one spell (with the odds only slightly in his favor, he could still fail that will save against Dominate Person).

All in all a solid villain that dumb players will sympathize with allowing TPK's when they are necessary. Thank you and good luck in the next round.


I like it, but it's not a direct villain.

As a DM, I see this villain as a slow unfolding plot, where he starts sharing interests with the heros, perhaps as a sponsor. But as things unfolds, as they get to know each other, they slowly realize that their option might be worse than the status quo.

To me, it's the villains you hate the most, the ones that force to say you've backed the wrong horse.

Memorable.

My vote!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Standback wrote:
why all the potions of inflict serious wounds? Is this some kind of trap? That seems... odd. Or at least, unrelated to everything else.

See the racial abilities; those are his own cure potions.


Deacon of Ash. Love the name.

Unfortunately, with a name like that, much is expected.

I'd like to see...well...more burning stuff. Also, he's kind of a contradictory character. If he truly is waging a war against the undead, why all the negative energy stuff? Seems kind of counterproductive.

Like a lot of people, I really liked the Hound Master, but I'm not sure yet if I'll vote for this one solely based on the curiosity of what you might do in the next round.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka surfbored

Cody Coffelt wrote:

Lyell, Deacon of Ash

This name really speaks to me, assuming it's pronounced "lie-el". It's almost subliminal in its evil tone. "Deacon of Ash" is nice too, with some originality to it. +1

Cody Coffelt wrote:

Description: Lyell stands tall with a dour expression on his chiseled face. A thick robe parts to reveal his gray armor, on which smolders engraved Osiriani glyphs. When he draws his sword of ashen flame, his shadowed eyes gleam with fel intent.

This whole paragraph paints a portrait in my head like a picture slowly coming into focus; and then I hit the misspelled word and was jerked back into reality. Please spelchek. +1

Cody Coffelt wrote:

Motivations/Goals: Lyell was raised under the tutelage of a madman. Once, his father was a cleric in the thrall temples of Geb, until his handsome features attracted the attention of Countess Qeket, a Blood Lord. After the vampire consumed him, she threw the shattered man aside. Months later, the countess returned to dump a pale, squalling infant in his lap. Over the years, Lyell's father instilled a hatred of Gebbite society within the boy. Together they summoned demons, with whom pacts were made and powers of chaos bargained. Lyell became a dark figure, one who seeks to crush the foundation of undead rule. To break the structure of Geb the antipaladin has gathered others who would revel in anarchy. The Blood Lords shall know their place, or the country will burn.

Wait, what happened and to whom? I had to read this again to really get an understanding of the background. This paragraph felt broken to me, perhaps too much editing was done to keep the word count down? Then I finally realized he was a dhampir antipaladin -- bummer. This space has been filled and filled again.

Cody Coffelt wrote:

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:

--Under Lyell's command, his gathered minions have begun kidnapping and destroying Blood Lords. The Lords would pay a hefty reward to have this seditionist stopped.
--Lyell has acquired one of the harlot queen’s relic-organs. From his fortress monastery he is using it in an unholy ritual to cripple Queen Arazni. A Knight of Ozem wants the item captured before Arazni’s servants reclaim it.

My PCs are more likely to side with him, at least for a while, thinking him the lesser of two evils.

Cody Coffelt wrote:
[STAT BLOCK]

As long as it's close and readable, that's all I need to run my combats.

Luckily your race and archetype choice gives lots of different abilities for me to use against my PCs - I just wish you added a little more creativity to his tactics. My players will just remember him as the guy that beat them up, once they broke the truce they made with him.

He starts off great, but fizzles a bit thereafter.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jerry Keyes wrote:
This whole paragraph paints a portrait in my head like a picture slowly coming into focus; and then I hit the misspelled word and was jerked back into reality. Please spelchek. +1

What misspelled word?

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Tikael wrote:
Jerry Keyes wrote:
This whole paragraph paints a portrait in my head like a picture slowly coming into focus; and then I hit the misspelled word and was jerked back into reality. Please spelchek. +1
What misspelled word?

fel != fell

-----

These things aside I must say I expected more from you - a lot more.

While your villain is mechanically sound and has a nice synergy it seems not very unique or special. If I would hit the "BBEG" page of an adventure and see this I would be underwhelmed.

That said your villain is more of an evil plot character than someone the PCs encounter at the end of an adventure and do battle with "to solve it all".


Cody I love that you do not "play it safe" in your designing. Those that walk the edge seem to evoke strong feelings from others and this is as it should be. Originality has it's price.

Once I mulled this guy around in my brain I realized how multi-dimensional he is and while not a cut-and-dried mega in-your-face villain, he is indeed a villain of whatever scenario he is used in because who knows what he will do next.

As far as "fel' goes I do not believe it was a mis-spelling but choose to think you used it in the context I found in this link.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fel

Carry on, my friend. The road less traveled has a much better view. You get my vote.

Star Voter 2015

Cody, Cody, Cody... what can I say? You really won me over with the evangelist which was an almost impossible task considering what you were making. The flask of five fifths was, if not inspired, a solid entry that wasted little and provided insight into the talent you brought with you. However this... this just doesn't do it on a fluff level.

I mean really, a dhampir anti-paladin? That's almost as cliche as an aasimar paladin, or wizard anti-hero. So what if he hates undead? Again another cliche as most dhampir in current fiction hate undead (especially vampires). This hurts -- especially from you, as I know you can do much better. It felt like you were a bit at a loss this round, got rushed and threw something out quickly. Even the fact he is a villain could be lost on PCs at first, with an easy case of "the enemy of my enemy" causing them to allow him to fast track in so that they can take him and the weakened blood Lords out easily.

However, the stat block really helps you in my opinion. This is a tight encounter -- his AC is good, his saves are tough, with nice resistances and an easy way to heal himself while still laying down the hurt, which he can really do. You grabbed several magical items that are near and dear to me, including the greyflame greatsword -- which I like all the more since it can be re-purposed by the PCs when they beat him. You didn't waste much magic item space but you did use a lot of magical items... something he might not needed as much of as he has. The potions of inflict serious wounds shows a good eye for detail and offers a nasty surprise to PCs as well which is nice. I think you used the array stats which is neat as it shows a valid threat that didn't need a lot of high stats to really pull off.

Another place that really helps you is your hook lines -- these are easy to use, are direct with easy to see conflict with the PCs and lead on to new things without leaving too many questions.

He isn't the best villain around here, but he is solid, he is a villain, and he's going to hurt things (PCs) badly. He's the same as many mid-level baddies in the APs and as such you got my vote -- Barely, I really expect to see the shine you have demonstrated with the evangelist again with the next round.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Steven T. Helt

Neil did a pretty good job checking out your stat block, but I wonder how he gets a CMD of 26 instead of 24. Maybe I am missing something. I looked for the part where he has three legs. : }

You're a good writer, and I would say that as a character that excites me, Lyell is as compelling as any so far. But is he villainous? Just being CE doesn't amke you a villain, anymore than just being Good makes you a hero. The villains are the vampires. I think of Kemp and Erevis Cale's assassin buddy. He's really evil: he's an assassin, he uses Dark Speech, and he's willing to kill and murder to suit his purposes. But is he a villain? Your guy is similar: his outlook on life is colored by his checkered apst and associations. Too many black marks to be a really heroic figure. But he's not a villain.

I think the concepts of vampires having babies is just one step removed from sparkling men. If they can breed, they aren't dead. I don't like it. That's a taste thing, but I can tell you now that I wouldn't buy an adventure with a half-vampire villain.


Anti-paladin dhampir is a cliche that screams bad-ass, but it's a cliche that will draw attention of those wanting to sell a product that can be marketed. You've got my vote, but it's more on the strength of last round's archetype, which was one of my top two favorites.


Steven T. Helt wrote:

Neil did a pretty good job checking out your stat block, but I wonder how he gets a CMD of 26 instead of 24. Maybe I am missing something. I looked for the part where he has three legs. : }

Ring of protection +2 affects CMD.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Standback

Abraham spalding wrote:
Cody, Cody, Cody... what can I say? You really won me over with the evangelist which was an almost impossible task considering that it was Sean McGowan who wrote that one.

Fixed that for you.

:P

Spoiler:
Sorry about that, Cody. Turns out I'm Lawful. I hope Abraham will vote for you anyway.

Star Voter 2015

Standback wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
Cody, Cody, Cody... what can I say? You really won me over with the evangelist which was an almost impossible task considering that it was Sean McGowan who wrote that one.

Fixed that for you.

:P

** spoiler omitted **

Wow what a mistake to make! I chalk it up to thinking about two villains at once for some reason. However I did really like the hound master too, and considered it an excellent archetype to make, and helps with a slight side issue I might have had (two 'religious' types in a row) that obviously isn't present now.

Thank you for the clarification.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015 aka Steven T. Helt

Aha! And so there it is! Now I have to go and admit my palyers' CMD ae all higher. Grr!

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