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Varstrius, Connoisseur of Living Dolls


Round 3 - Top 16: Create a villain stat block

1 to 50 of 91 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka Tolroy

Varstrius, Connoisseur of Living Dolls
Portrait: “Portrait 10”
Description:
Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved little sister Sulliana to death. Unable to fight back, Varstrius's agony and rage festered into the insane obsession he carries to this day. Varstrius blindly attempts to regain his lost sister by capturing small folk in Cassomir and dressing them up as gross parodies of Sulliana.

Varstrius stands at an unimposing five and a half feet tall, his hardy body beginning to show his age. He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.
Motivations/Goals:
Varstrius is consumed by one goal: to find a replacement for his departed sister. To that end, he has taken to kidnapping halflings and gnomes, keeping those that have a passing resemblance to Sulliana. His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
Varstrius has been careful in collecting living dolls, but sometimes a plan plays out imperfectly.

  • A recent victim's family is actively searching for their missing daughter, and they believe that the last mercenary they hired was close to finding her before his body was found floating in the harbor.
  • A halfling or gnome PC could become Varstrius's next target.
  • Sarrisia was more careless than usual, and the PCs encounter her while she is traveling towards Andor with a wagon full of prisoners.

Varstrius CR 7
Male middle age human ranger (urban ranger, APG 129) 8
CE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +5; Senses Perception +16
===== Defense =====
AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 19; (+7 armor, +1 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 76 (8d10+32);
Fort +9, Ref +8, Will +6
===== Offense =====
Spd 30 ft.
Melee +1 bastard sword +12/+4 (1d10+14/19-20)
Ranged masterwork dagger +9 (1d4+3/19-20)
Special Attacks favored enemy (halfling +4, gnome +2)
Ranger Spells Prepared (CL 5th, concentration +6)
2nd--barkskin
1st--longstrider, pass without trace
===== Tactics =====
Before Combat Varstrius casts barkskin and longstrider before entering combat.
During Combat Varstrius allows his hired mercenaries to engage potential threats for a few rounds before entering the fray, but he will immediately enter combat after casting his spells if one of the opponents is a halfling or gnome. Varstrius will overrun past any intervening opponents in an attempt to reach a halfling or gnome target. Both Varstrius and his mercenaries take a -4 penalty to hit against such targets because they are attempting to deal nonlethal damage. After subduing any halfling or gnome targets, Varstrius readjusts his tactics, focusing his full attack actions on wounded opponents and maneuvering into flanking positions. Other than the small folk, Varstrius takes no prisoners.
Morale Varstrius has little intention of dying before finding the perfect replacement for Sulliana, so he attempts to flee if brought below 33 hit points. During daytime, he can escape in the vast Cassomir crowds. At night, this advantage is missing. If trapped, his pride forces him to fight to the death instead of surrendering.
===== Statistics =====
Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 11
Base Atk +8; CMB +11; CMD 22
Feats Furious Focus, Greater Overrun, Improved Overrun, Iron Will, Power Attack, Pushing Assault, Toughness
Skills Diplomacy +4, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (local) +14, Knowledge (nobility) +7, Perception +16, Sense Motive +9, Survival +8
Languages Common
SQ favored community (Cassomir +4, Oppara +2), hunter's bond (cat), push through, swift tracker, track +4, trapfinding, wild empathy
Combat Gear potion of cure moderate wounds (2); Other Gear +1 breastplate, +1 bastard sword, cloak of resistance +1, masterwork dagger (2)

Cheliax 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!

I love the simple yet human and twisted origin of this character. A little more emphasis on his unimposing physique and lack of strength might be nice, but you establish the point. In motivations/goals, I like the logical connection to two of the basic fantasy races of the setting, gnomes and halflings.

The one thing missing here is what Varstrius does with his dolls beyond dressing them up. I love that you call him a connoisseur, but what does that mean for his victims? Does he look for particular physical attributes? Does he demand sweetness, petulance, or some other quality of his late sister? Are the dolls merely imprisoned? Does he talk to them as if they were his sister? And what happens if they refuse to play out his fantasy? Those questions might provide more exciting and horrible adventure hooks, although I appreciate the detail of his daughter's selling the rejects into slavery.

You have been weighed and measured:
I vote YES to advance this one.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Let's see what you've given us, Artus. This is 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 love the concept. This is a villain, marked by some tragic/horrific thing in his past that broke him and now drives his own insane villainy. And the added horror to it is that his own daughter is helping him?! Eesh. Way to present both a useful "minion" and some additional insight into his psyche. Meanwhile, they're kidnapping the "small folk" in order to dress them up as his deceased younger sister. Demented indeed. And villainous. It's also an interesting decision to spin him as an urban ranger with favored enemy bonuses against gnomes and halflings. Very appropriate.

So what about your stat-block. Let's check it out. First up, interesting choice to go with a middle-aged villain. I like that you embraced the challenge of incorporating that additional adjustment into your villain's ability scores. It makes for a bigger challenge to the stat-block. And you got it right. In fact, you've pretty much designed a mostly flawless stat-block altogether. However, near as I can tell, you've listed his Initiative bonus, Knowledge (local), and Perception skills with the +4 bonus for his favored community of Cassomir. I'm not sure that's warranted...as you didn't raise his Stealth and Survival skills for the same reason. Also, it looks like maybe you've got a typo on the damage value for his bastard sword as +14 seems like it ought to be +4. I can't get it to +14 even with Power Attack and favored enemy bonuses.

Everything else is pretty solid. I even like your tactics for having him throw caution to the wind to overrun opponents in order to get at any halflings or gnomes in the party. And I like the fact that you've hinted at him having mercenaries for any encounter involving him.

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: Good
Flavor Text: Good
Appropriate Archetype: Excellent
Interesting Tactics: Good
Stat-Block Execution: Average to Good

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: There's villainy and some good attention to detail in your mechanical execution here. A couple of mis-steps, but about as solid as anyone could expect.

Unsurprisingly, I do RECOMMEND this villain to advance to the next round. Best of luck in the voting.

Contributor

Dolls = creepy.

Adults who deal with dolls = creepy.

Gnomes and halflings dressed as gnomes = creepy.

Interesting choice, making him a middle-aged man.

This guy is nuts. Seriously, he's crazy, and not in a typical madman scenery-chewing way. He's creepy and novel and this was a great choice.

Paizo Employee Developer

Hey Artus! 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, majorly creepy. Dolls a generally a great way to creep out players, especially when they're made of living people. But I don't know what exactly he's doing to his victims, and I really wish I did. I get that he wants to make a replica of his sister, but does he kill them and then stuff them to dress them up? Or does he just keep them around in costume? How many of them are there? It seems like the concept is there in terms of motivations, but the actual villainy is sort of glossed over.

I'm also confused about his daughter. I mean, this guy is middle aged, so having a daughter is understandable, but he's also bat-crap crazy and I don't get the sense he's one to have a successful marriage or be able to raise a kid. It seems like you're setting up a more complex plot here but I need more than just a passing mention of her to make it fit.

I'm not sure where Andor is (other than being a nation in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time). I think you mean Andoran, but getting the name wrong of one of the setting's most developed nations (in terms of product set there) is a red flag.

Now to the statblock. An urban ranger? Hmm, not sure that was the best fit. Thematically, I don't get much ranger from this guy. Was that because he's a kidnapper in an urban environment who targets specific races? I guess I get that, but it doesn't seem like the right fit. Other than that decision, everything here looks to be good from a stylistic and presentation point of view, though you've got some future tense/passive voice going on in the tactics section. In general, "will" can be cut from running text in most cases, saving you words and making for better prose.

Overall, I think this has the potential to be a cool, memorable villain, but I don't feel that it's quite there yet. I want to know more about what he's doing other than just kidnapping little people and making them dress up like his sister. And I want him to be something other than an urban ranger.

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

CEO, Goblinworks

Summary: 0 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Artus 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 a human showing some positive emotions. I don't think this image maps to your villain.

0 Points

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

I don't understand the villain so I don't see how it adds value to my IP. He sees his kid killed (apparently doesn't do anything about it) and so he inflicts this same trauma on others (taking away their loved ones).

What does he DO with these captives? Dress them up? Have tea parties? Kill & stuff them? Dolls are creepy, because they're in the uncanny valley. The dolls are the centerpiece of this character and I can't figure out what the deal is.

0 Points

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

No, it doesn't make sense.

He has ANOTHER DAUGHTER? And she's voluntarily helping him kidnap people for undefined "doll play"? She's the creepy villain here, not him. He's just a psycho who had his world shattered but she's a willing accomplice to kidnapping, slavery and probably murder.

Why is he a ranger? You've had to put all sorts of "rangery" things into the submission that have little or nothing to do with the villainy.

0 Points

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

Twist is apparently that his kid is as sick as he is.

0 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.

This villain is disturbing and I like that. I don’t even want to think about what this guy does to dolls that give him trouble. ::Shiver::

Picking the urban ranger is an interesting choice. Varstrius is a hunter pure and simple, his preferred terrain is just the city. His monstrosity is evident in his choice of prey. I think you’ve stated him up perfectly. Now I want to see Sarrisia’s story and block. Something tells me she is just as messed up as dear old dad.

I recommend this one for advancement. Good luck in the voting, Artus.

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

I can't say I'm a fan. Sure, a guy kidnapping Small races and dressing them up as his dead sister is all sorts of creepy, but what does he actually do with them? Keep them prisoner? Make them serve him? Stuff them and store them in his basement? The hook is there, but a big ol' chunk of how to make it work in play is missing. I agree with Ryan Dancey that the daughter is both incongruous and more interesting than Daddy is; why is she helping him in this sick crusade? What does she get out of it?

The stat-block does look pretty good, and urban ranger is a good fit for the predators of the city. But I'm not sold. I do not believe I will be voting for this entry.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka motteditor

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Gnomes and halflings dressed as gnomes = creepy.

How should gnomes dress, Sean? : )

Interesting bad guy. Reminds me a lot of one of the creepier eps of Whedon's "Dollhouse." I do wonder what he does with his living dolls, though. The idea of eventually stuffing them (if they don't quite live up to his sister's personality, but still match the look) is definitely creepy.

I'm not sure if he's a guy I'd use in my campaign -- I think a lot of his backstory wouldn't ever be discovered by PCs -- but definitely has some creepy potential.

Oh, and as someone who's 5'4", I think 5'5" is not unimposing, but that may just be me. (And he'd probably be pretty imposing to all the gnomes and halflings he preys on.)

Star Voter 2013

Artus Nemati aka Tolroy wrote:
His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.

THIS is what interests me. How did he get a wife? What was THAT marriage like? And does he dress up his daughter like his sister? Was that his first attempt? Is she capable of being saved or has she been driven mad by her father?

Why doesn't illusion magic do it for him?

And, dude, you seriously needed those soulbound dolls from Crimson Throne 1. There's also Attic Whisperers from Runelords 1.

Yeah, I want this episode of Dollhouse in my campaign. You don't really have the campaign hooks to make this more than a one-shot, but sometimes, that's all you want.

Star Voter 2013

Ryan Dancey wrote:

I don't understand the villain so I don't see how it adds value to my IP. He sees his kid killed (apparently doesn't do anything about it) and so he inflicts this same trauma on others (taking away their loved ones)....

He has ANOTHER DAUGHTER?

Ryan, the dead child was his sister, not his daughter.

Artus Nemati wrote:


... Varstrius blindly attempts to regain his lost sister by capturing small folk in Cassomir and dressing them up as gross parodies of Sulliana.

Varstrius is consumed by one goal: to find a replacement for his departed sister.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Alright, he is certainly creepy. Though it really is missing what he actually does with the victims

Artus Nemati wrote:
Sarrisia was more careless than usual, and the PCs encounter her while she is traveling towards Andor with a wagon full of prisoners.

I, like Mark, assume you meant Andoran... which brings up question number 2: why would you bring people to sell as slaves in Andoran? I was under the impression that they did not like the whole slave thing there.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I was worried from the name we'd have another villain with soulbound dolls. Pleasantly surprised by the kidnapping of gnomes and halflings instead. And I like that he's twisted his surviving daughter into helping him.

Minutes: stat block mistakes, and the whole "Andor" thing. I'm hoping someone can explain Andor, but if it's really supposed to be Andoran, selling slaves there is a major breach with canon.

Putting this one in my "maybe" file. But I do like it.


Kinda reminds me of the true blood alchemist? from Fullmetal Alchemist.. i may be mistaken on the name because i haven't seen it in a while but yes...creating living dolls of his daughter...who by his own fault was dead. Creepy....

Star Voter 2013

I kind of want to like this one - he's definitely creepy, but I'm really stumbling over a major conceptual hurdle. He's trying to find/recreate/kidnap his dead sister, who is human and died as a child, by kidnapping *adult* gnomes and halflings? Why not human children? Or children of any other race?

Maybe you were worried that that would push the envelope too far for a commercial product? Or maybe I'm not giving him enough credit for being delusional?


I like the fluff a lot except for the daughter part. I also think a spellcaster type that tried to turn the dolls into a living person or trying to pull the soul from the victim into a doll somehow would work better.

Spoiler:
I will keep this one in the probable folder for now.


I kept reading the name "Vistarius" and it was driving me nuts. Probably because I'm egotistical, but it made my eye twitch.

Anyways, I thought there was a decent storyline here, and then it kind of shot itself in the foot. Ranger was a bad choice, and I'm like the others. "what does he do with them?" The living doll thing is something that's in a B or C horror flick produced by sci-fi for three airtimes and then is never heard from again. Or it can be done very well, especially with the kidnapping someone that looks just like someone the psychopath loved. Example; Jason in the new Friday the 13th that left that chick alive because she reminded him of his mother, or various other films.

So to me, it wasn't original. And then there's the opportunity to make it original by throwing in a child, but not offering enough "fluff" as to why she's helping him, or even what they're doing or why they haven't been caught yet. I also like villains who aren't just psychopaths with random fetishes they're trying to satisfy. Especially if you're having mercenaries in the mix. I know, standard henchmen don't ask questions, but to me even a Golarian based mercenary might go "Wait, why are we helping this guy capture people and put them in doll clothes?"

I wasn't too impressed on this one.


This guy is creepy..he'd fit right into one of Mr Pett's nasty little stories . Its in my possibles..

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

Unlike most villains who have a narrow scope, I instinctively like the villain concept simply because I instinctively hate the villain as a character. I want some Hellknights to hunt him down and publicly flay him, which is a good thing for a villain.

Mechanically, I think he might be better suited as a Ranger 5/Wizard 3, so he would have access to a few spells to twist his dolls' minds. His stats would have to be changed around. I also think that he is a great candidate to have 8 Charisma, simply because he has such difficulty connecting to others.

As for his daughter, perhaps I believe the worst in people, but I have no difficulty imagining some of the twisted lengths he would go to in order to recreate his sister, including fathering a child with an unwilling woman. Now, this is very dark and disturbing, better suited for very dark campaigns.

Overall, I think he's great as a villain concept. While I have my own preference for how I would create him in a stat block, I think yours is just fine.

I will almost certainly vote for this one.


This villain got my vote on sheer potential, because most of the execution falls flat for me. But I could happily take the House-Of-Wax-ish concept and reskin the rest as necessary to get something that would be both useful and interesting in a number of my different campaigns, and that was my criteria. Bottom line: the concept is inspiring.


Isaac Duplechain hits it exactly on the head of why I love this villain - Because his evil is so repulsive - Even with a ´human story´ behind his pathology, you still feel the instinctive repulsion that Varstrius is ´wrong´ and you don´t want him to exist any more. That obviously sets up a more complex interaction from a player perspective, e.g. they will likely face their own moral issues of Goodness vs. Law/Chaos and ´human´ will itself, which is behind all those abstractions in the first place.

I was somewhat surprised (though perhaps I shouldn´t be) by the SEVERAL stark mis-readings of this entry that have already been made in the comments so far, including from some of the judges:
* It was his SISTER that was strangled by Varstrius´ father, not ´another daughter´ as Ryan Dancey mis-read... So this certainly is one bizarro family, but there isn´t any sort of continuity error with one daughter helping kidnap and kill to replace the murdered daughter... In fact, I don´t see how there WOULD have been a problem HAD Artus in fact gone with that approach, it would have just been another twist on things.

I also thought Mr. Dancy´s take that it was inappropriate to have selected a Villain image that ´showed positive emotion´ (presumably the smile on his face?) was a very bizarre sentiment. So villains never smile, or express pleasant emotions? That seems an awfully restrictive set of behavior for villains, apparently they can´t even enjoy killing or other villainous behavior. Personally, I thought the image seemed appropriate, plausibly ´Taldoran´ (his name also is suitably ´pseudo Latin´) and in line with the middle-aged, sneaky/manipulative/crazy murderous type. You know, you can tell by their face, of course. :-)

* Russ Taylor and Tikael commented on the Andor vs. Andoran thing, and that´s a valid detail that was over-looked... I sympathize there, because I myself find the country name ´Andoran´ (as name of country rather than adjective) very clashing with standard English word construction, and would have much preferred if Andoran were named Andor. (Not to mention the adjective version, i.e. nationality, is ´Andoren´. ´Andorani´ or ´Andoranese´ would have worked alot better IMHO) That said, I feel Artus got the FLAVOR for Andoran spot-on, and catching type-o´s like this is what editors are for.

They both also commented on a ´canon contradiction´ involved in ´selling slaves in Andoran´. That MIGHT have some validity (if one ignores that a slave trade does in fact exist in modern day countries where slavery is illegal), except Artus clearly wrote in the Motivations/Goals: ¨His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.¨. OUT OF THE COUNTRY, likely meaning to Qadira where slavery is accepted (though again, they could be sold ILLEGALLY in whichever jurisdiction).

They may have been confused by the passage: ¨Sarrisia was more careless than usual, and the PCs encounter her while she is traveling towards Andor with a wagon full of prisoners.¨ as a possible set-up for the PCs to become involved with Varstrius´ evil. Of course, that line doesn´t say she is bringing the prisoners to Andor to be SOLD, so in fact these prisoners are likely being brought to Andor TO PRESENT TO HER FATHER (and the fact they noticed the prisoners only because ´she was careless´ suggests she normally takes care to hide the fact she is transporting prisoners/slaves). Obviously, this is a villain whose evil is overflowing with enough plot twists that makes it difficult to fully convey in a stat-block rather than an adventure arc. I don´t see a problem with that :-)

I saw some protests that found your choice of Ranger off - To the contrary,:
that choice (rather, Urban Ranger specifically) gives Class Abilities which make him a very evasive oppoent in an urban setting, which gives him much resilience as a Villain, i.e. a recurring villain. His two favored terrains, in Cassomir AND Oppara, suggests to me that he has two bases of operations, or perhaps different, hidden parts of his history could be discovered in the different towns.

I think the choice of Animal Companion: Cat works out well enough, it seems an appropriate ´pet´ for evil mafia boss types, and since he has mercenaries working for him, that seems close enough to his position, since he both has the inclination and means to hire professional killers. It was brought up that ´why would mercenaries not object?´, but I don´t really think that´s a continuity error... Some of them MAY have objected, but he found out (thru his social skills) and killed them first... standard villain operating procedure.

Probably the #1 thing I would like to have seen changed,:
was swapping out his spell-casting for the Skirmisher non-spell casting variant... I just never got any ´in tune with mystic nature´ vibe, villainous leapard (?) cat not withstanding, and I think that suite of abilities would have much better complented the character. Certainly the spells you list him as using (barkskin, longstrider) are easily replicable with consumable items, so I think it would have made for a more compelling villain, game play wise.

The other main thing I would have changed was in the Tactics section, the mention of ´always subduing halflings and gnomes first´ just seemed a bit over the top if he truly ALWAYS fought like that. I can see that tactic being advisted WHEN HE IS ON THE ´HUNT´, intent on taking halfling/gnome prisoners, but it wouldn´t make sense if, for example, the PCs (who include a gnome or halfling) are pursuing him, or if he is ambushing the PCs who have been harassing him (since he is more concerned about self-survival in that case). There´s also some minor dischord between his search for gnome/halfling replacements for his SISTER (who thus presumably need to be female), and the tactics and other bits applying vs. all gnomes/halflings... Then again, maybe he isn´t that picky. 8-/

Mechanically speaking, it´s mostly good, but I would have done the skills a bit differently...:
I would have had maxed (or mostly) Bluff, which seems more important to the character than his Knowledge: Nobility ranks (though some ranks there are good too). I also think Stealth would be a big skill, but he has NO ranks, even though a big Urban Ranger ability uses Stealth at 12th level (which I know he hasn´t reached yet, but Stealth still seems appropriate). Survival seems like something he could have given up to invest in Stealth... If he has the means (money), which he apparently does since he hires mercenaries and sells slaves, he doesn´t really need Survival to find a place to stay and food to eat, while Stealth to enable ambushes on targets, and stealthy get-aways, just seems way more up his alley...

This is the very first villain I read, but I have a very strong feeling you are definitely getting my vote.

Your work so far has had a very nice, subtle + competent vibe to it, and this villain definitely seems evocative of very interesting plot-lines (in that nasty, dark sort of vein that Paizo doesn´t avoid going on occasion), so I have no problem saying that I look forward to what sort of work you can do in a longer adventure format... and that I already believe you have the chops to do professional adventure and setting work for Paizo. So good luck, because I want to see my predictions come true!
( Does that sound to much like a cheesy villain hang-up? ;-) )


Venerax wrote:
Kinda reminds me of the true blood alchemist? from Fullmetal Alchemist.. i may be mistaken on the name because i haven't seen it in a while but yes...creating living dolls of his daughter...who by his own fault was dead. Creepy....

Oh yeah, the Sewing Life Alchemist! He WAS creepy!

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I really like this villian. 1 big thing comes to mind to change though. Instead of it being his daughter, I would make her one of his first victims, now totally brainwashed.

Also, a description of his lair having multiple girls in performing tasks for him.

This guy is great... and creepy. I can see my players wanting to take him out.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka motteditor

Caineach wrote:

I really like this villian. 1 big thing comes to mind to change though. Instead of it being his daughter, I would make her one of his first victims, now totally brainwashed.

Also, a description of his lair having multiple girls in performing tasks for him.

This guy is great... and creepy. I can see my players wanting to take him out.

Yeah, this definitely sounds good, especially with them all looking so similar. Very creepy. (And then you get to the chamber with the girls who didn't behave so well ... and thus have all had a visit from the taxidermist.)


The pitch is scary.

The execution left me scratching my head.

He sells them into slavery? this is bad certainly, but dangerous. stupidly dangerous. I expected the canals or sewers, or what have you filled with little bodies dressed up as children. that would be bad.

right now it just seems like some sort of "Silk Stalkings" (old very bad television show) type crime... kind of edgy, but you know not really.

He seems like Chaotic neutral and his daughter neutral evil. rather than being chaotic evil.

Andoran Dedicated Voter 2013

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

I really like this Villain.

Artus, you are slowing growing on me. Not sure I can vote on you just yet, but obviously some people out there like you.

I liked your lantern. I felt there were some holes, and perhaps it was underpriced, but I liked it.

I did not like your archetype. I felt it didn't really do what an archetype is supposed to do. It also felt cliche to me.

I did not vote for you to advance into this round.

Unless I can only find 7 that I like, I can't vote for you the next round, but if you make it, and your area is as lively as this fellow, then I will definitely vote for you to move on to the top 4.

Good job on the villain! I can see myself using this idea in my campaign!

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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

I like the story on this guy - but I'm curious as to why he doesn't kidnap and dollify *human children* (at least in addition to gnomes and halflings) - surely that should be the first target?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LoreKeeper wrote:

I like the story on this guy - but I'm curious as to why he doesn't kidnap and dollify *human children* (at least in addition to gnomes and halflings) - surely that should be the first target?

I'm guessing human children grow up too quickly (and out of the clothes), whereas halflings and gnomes can be the size of his sister the rest of their lives. Maybe, in the beginning, he did start out with children and learned this limitation.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Khelek wrote:

The pitch is scary.

The execution left me scratching my head.

He sells them into slavery? this is bad certainly, but dangerous. stupidly dangerous. I expected the canals or sewers, or what have you filled with little bodies dressed up as children. that would be bad.

right now it just seems like some sort of "Silk Stalkings" (old very bad television show) type crime... kind of edgy, but you know not really.

He seems like Chaotic neutral and his daughter neutral evil. rather than being chaotic evil.

Yeah, I kind of agree. I would drop the slavery. They are either his slaves or no ones, and he makes sure they know it.

Someone like this may move into my PCs town in Kingmaker.


Does he also capture male gnomes and halflings. his sister must have been well... ugly. do gnomes have beards in this setting?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

I like the direction your going here. I think it's pretty clear that Ryan missed that it was his sister and not his daughter, so I wouldn't fret too much about his commentary. That said I have some issues of my own here. I get the ranger ( you wanted the bonuses against "little people") and i get the urban archetype ( he operates in the city), but beyond those two things he's not really a ranger. I would have much rather seen him classed as a multiclass ranger/rogue, with emphasis on the rogue and ranger only for the favored bonuses, even if it means having only one. You could have done a lot to ramp up the creepy here, like craft:taxidermy or profession:taylor/hair stylist/make-up or something to really give him the means to make his dolls. It may be because you wanted to stay as PG as possible, but there's a load of potential here and not much pow.

To me this seems like you had a really great villain idea, and were then forced to conform to the round three rules, chopping away valuable exposition in the process. The picture doesn't really gel with his story, even if you go with the suave serial criminal angle the artwork is just not emotive enough to convey his creepiness.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka The Leaping Gnome

I like that you used urban ranger, the abilities that archetype provide really compliment this character.

I am also confused by why he needs so many small folk. He only had one sister, if he finds one halfling or gnome that looks like her wouldn't he be satisfied? And any halfling or gnome would suffice? Male or female, whether they look like his sister or not? Why not human children as well? If he eventually becomes dissatisfied with the small folk he captures anyway (which would explain why he needs a constant supply) why not have him capture children and then get rid of them (have his daughter sell them, etc.) once they no longer remind him of his sister? And if he does have a "wax museum" (has anybody read Roald Dahl's The Landlady?) like some have commented about then wouldn't children be more appropriate anyway?

He's kind of reminding me of a character from Dexter season 4 (especially because of his daughter):

Dexter Spoiler:
John Lithgow's Arthur Mitchell. That guy was creeeeeeeepy.

Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

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

It has its flaws (I agree about the slavery thing - but then again it would be a ready source of income), but conceptually this one was pretty good.

Not in my top three, but did get one of my votes. I'd like to see the surrounding story filled out a bit more. And I bet his daughter's even more screwed up than he is :)


Thank you for NOT telling us what he does with his dolls. I believed, at first that space constraints contributed to the vagueness, which it may. You leave enough to the DM's imagination so that the players can determine the depths of depravity.

What I mean is, if I describe this guy as is to my players they are going to ask questions that cannot be immediately answered. That will creep them out. Some will think about forced tea parties, others will go darker. Much darker. Some things are best left unsaid if only to make someone wonder just how bad it is. This guy, thematically, works.

I do wish people could see the benefit in not having all the information spelled out for you. There is a certain pay off in the anticipation.

Mechanically you should have given him the Leadership feat. His stats do not match up to a CR 7 and by adding in paid for mercs you're only handing your players free XP (minions gained via leadership do not increase the XP value of the encounter). He also fails against a group with no small characters! This limits his viability as a villain. I'd have to change him into a childnapper for my own games targeting humans, elves or dwarves (which would be better for the creep value and worst for the same reason).

You actually played it safe with this guy and the fact the judges screwed the pooch in analyzing your entry works in your favor for me since it means I'll be disregarding their opinions on this one.

Good luck. I hope you advance.

Shadow Lodge

I like it. A lot. I didn't care much for either of your other two submissions, but this freaky fantastic guy wins me over.

I am also going to agree with many others that the vagueness is GOOD, it makes him far more modular and more adaptable for specific campaigns and games. This sort of thing is what NPCs in NPC books useful, not the ones that are so clearly molded there is no leeway at all.

For example, there's nothing that says his daughter is biologically his, right? I would have said he adopted her, training her to be what he needs. What a hook that would be! PCs must find long-missing heiress to the throne, only to find this creep-bag has totally convinced her she lives in an entirely different world.


I thought it was a really good entry, very creepy and having a male halfling in a dress would prove a very comedic moment when the rest of the party walks in.

I got through the character but something lept up at me when I read this post by Ryan Dancey.

Ryan Dancey wrote:



  • You picked a human showing some positive emotions. I don't think this image maps to your villain.
  • I don't understand the villain so I don't see how it adds value to my IP. He sees his kid killed (apparently doesn't do anything about it) and so he inflicts this same trauma on others (taking away their loved ones).
  • He has ANOTHER DAUGHTER? And she's voluntarily helping him kidnap people for undefined "doll play"? She's the creepy villain here, not him. He's just a psycho who had his world shattered but she's a willing accomplice to kidnapping, slavery and probably murder.

Just wondering, did you read the description.....at all?

Artus Nemati wrote:


  • He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.
  • Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved LITTLE SISTER Sulliana to death.
  • If you couldn't gather that much from the text it makes me wonder if you're actually reading the entries.


    You have my vote.

    Some more info on what he does with the kidnapped victims would have been nice. But on the other hand, this leaves a lot to the DM to decide. Does he keep them bound and gagged? Does he kill them and keep their dead corpses until they start to rot? Does he treat them kindly and let them roam around as pseudo-servants, locked in and forever walking on egg shells lest he lose his temper and skewer them? There's a lot of possibility here.

    Also, the actions of his daughter also make the character interesting. Who says the daughter is also evil? Maybe he is so screwed up and has so many captives that she sneaks one out everyonce in awhile as sort of a nice thing to do to "free" one of them. I realize that slavery isn't much of a freedom, but compared to some living hell that he could be putting them through (see above), it might be the only alternative the daughter can offer. OR, maybe she needs money to buy booze to keep him drunk so he doesn't beat her...or something.

    Overall, I like the idea. The stat block also seems pretty solid. And you also get points for making an aged character (and noticing the subtle gray hair above his temples in the picture).

    Osirion

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Sean K Reynolds wrote:

    Dolls = creepy.

    Adults who deal with dolls = creepy.

    "They are NOT dolls. They are ACTION FIGURES!!!

    Osirion

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Quandary wrote:
    Russ Taylor and Tikael commented on the Andor vs. Andoran thing, and that´s a valid detail that was over-looked... I sympathize there, because I myself find the country name ´Andoran´ (as name of country rather than adjective) very clashing with standard English word construction, and would have much preferred if Andoran were named Andor. (Not to mention the adjective version, i.e. nationality, is ´Andoren´. ´Andorani´ or ´Andoranese´ would have worked alot better IMHO) That said, I feel Artus got the FLAVOR for Andoran spot-on, and catching type-o´s like this is what editors are for.

    I have to keep reminding myself it only has one 'r'.

    And I couldn't find any mention of the slave trade in their write-up...


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Snorter wrote:
    I have to keep reminding myself it only has one 'r'.

    I have to stop myself from calling it Alderaan...


    Snorter wrote:
    And I couldn't find any mention of the slave trade in (Andoran´s) write-up...

    PLEASE don´t bring in confusion between real-world Andorra and Golarion´s Andoran... :-)

    My point was that ANY country is likely to have SOME sort of slave trade, and the more illegal it is, the more lucrative it can be. I doubt you´ll find slavery mentioned in a Wiki article on the countries of Iceland, Germany, or the USA, but that doesn´t mean it doesn´t exist... That it was suggested the slaving is usually well-concealed would match with that (in a legal-slavery regime, there is no need to conceal such cargo).

    The idea that he (may) be selling slaves to Andorens (ACK!) brings up, WHAT Andorens? What if some Halfling refugees from Cheliax happened to harbor some very Chelish habits? NOT the first ones PCs might think to look for. As mentioned, I think Artus did a very good job of cramming so many evocative subjects into this Villain´s write-up, that we can speculate about the angles on HOW EVIL this guy and his minions are... Great job, Artus.

    Taldor

    Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

    I keep wanting to say Andorian

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Mark Thomas 66

    This is one of the creepiest villian concepts I've ever seen. This bastard is SICK!! I love it from a GM point of view, as each aspect is revealed the desire to kill this guy will just escalate in the players.

    This is the kind of villian that would make a skilled Paladin player shine. "What to do with the daughter? Does mental illness make you evil? How much do you attribute to childhood trauma and how much to sheer psychotic douchebaggery?

    Good job.


    Roshan wrote:

    I thought it was a really good entry, very creepy and having a male halfling in a dress would prove a very comedic moment when the rest of the party walks in.

    I got through the character but something lept up at me when I read this post by Ryan Dancey.

    Ryan Dancey wrote:



    • You picked a human showing some positive emotions. I don't think this image maps to your villain.
    • I don't understand the villain so I don't see how it adds value to my IP. He sees his kid killed (apparently doesn't do anything about it) and so he inflicts this same trauma on others (taking away their loved ones).
    • He has ANOTHER DAUGHTER? And she's voluntarily helping him kidnap people for undefined "doll play"? She's the creepy villain here, not him. He's just a psycho who had his world shattered but she's a willing accomplice to kidnapping, slavery and probably murder.

    Just wondering, did you read the description.....at all?

    Artus Nemati wrote:


  • He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.
  • Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved LITTLE SISTER Sulliana to death.
  • If you couldn't gather that much from the text it makes me wonder if you're actually reading the entries.

    +1

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

    Artus,

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

    Concept: It's been done before - just off the top of my head, recent TV examples include both Dexter and Dollhouse - but it's a fun, creepy trope.

    My biggest question would be how to present this villain to the PCs effectively. How will they ever know what he's trying to do with the girls, if they just peg him as a slavetrader and murderer, track him down, and kill him?

    Plot Hooks: Perfectly servicable - mostly "here's a way you can become aware of Varstrius," which I think is most appropriate for a villain at this scale. Easy to see how such a character would come into conflict with the PCs. More of a local villain than an epic-level schemer, which is very nice.

    Mechanics:
    - Stats and tactics seem sound.
    - How many bodyguards does Varstrius have? Does he have a "lair"? I don't know anything about his financial state or his mundane position within the city.
    - I like that you use the Urban Ranger's "Push Through" ability for escaping.

    Use of Archetype: Urban ranger feels like a good fit for this character - somebody who hunts within the city. Very appropriate to the twisted serial killer. On the other hand, I really don't feel the archetype coming into play much in your actual description; in fact, you make little mention of how Varstrius does his kidnappings, so that kind of a "hunt" goes entirely unmentioned.

    In other words, I feel that the description is of somebody who could be an urban ranger, but does little to convince me that he is.

    Use of Portrait: Evocative portrait; good match for the content; an interesting, non-immediate interpretation of the portrait.

    All in all, a very solid, well-conceived entry. There's room for improvement, but nothing crucial. I'm uncertain how easy it would be to actually insert this villain in a game, but he's twisted enough that I'd want to try.

    Wishing you lots of luck!

    RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Mark Thomas 66

    Cassey wrote:
    Roshan wrote:

    I thought it was a really good entry, very creepy and having a male halfling in a dress would prove a very comedic moment when the rest of the party walks in.

    I got through the character but something lept up at me when I read this post by Ryan Dancey.

    Ryan Dancey wrote:



    • You picked a human showing some positive emotions. I don't think this image maps to your villain.
    • I don't understand the villain so I don't see how it adds value to my IP. He sees his kid killed (apparently doesn't do anything about it) and so he inflicts this same trauma on others (taking away their loved ones).
    • He has ANOTHER DAUGHTER? And she's voluntarily helping him kidnap people for undefined "doll play"? She's the creepy villain here, not him. He's just a psycho who had his world shattered but she's a willing accomplice to kidnapping, slavery and probably murder.

    Just wondering, did you read the description.....at all?

    Artus Nemati wrote:


  • He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.
  • Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved LITTLE SISTER Sulliana to death.
  • If you couldn't gather that much from the text it makes me wonder if you're actually reading the entries.
    +1

    Wow! I usually kind of skim the judges' comments with a few exceptions but after going back and reading your commentary, it really looks like you're phoning it in.

    If this is the attention given to each entry its a good thing its up to the voters now.


    Mark Thomas wrote:
    Cassey wrote:
    Roshan wrote:

    I thought it was a really good entry, very creepy and having a male halfling in a dress would prove a very comedic moment when the rest of the party walks in.

    I got through the character but something lept up at me when I read this post by Ryan Dancey.

    Ryan Dancey wrote:



    • You picked a human showing some positive emotions. I don't think this image maps to your villain.
    • I don't understand the villain so I don't see how it adds value to my IP. He sees his kid killed (apparently doesn't do anything about it) and so he inflicts this same trauma on others (taking away their loved ones).
    • He has ANOTHER DAUGHTER? And she's voluntarily helping him kidnap people for undefined "doll play"? She's the creepy villain here, not him. He's just a psycho who had his world shattered but she's a willing accomplice to kidnapping, slavery and probably murder.

    Just wondering, did you read the description.....at all?

    Artus Nemati wrote:


  • He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.
  • Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved LITTLE SISTER Sulliana to death.
  • If you couldn't gather that much from the text it makes me wonder if you're actually reading the entries.
    +1

    Wow! I usually kind of skim the judges' comments with a few exceptions but after going back and reading your commentary, it really looks like you're phoning it in.

    If this is the attention given to each entry its a good thing its up to the voters now.

    +1 from me

    I couldn't agree more, I have no problem with a judge being critical and strict about what they're expecting but I also expect them to be consistent about it. Instead I'm seeing a lot of swingy scoring and blunt comments that come across like this was just phoned in.

    It was my understanding that Brand Management was meant to be a neutral aspect and look at the entry in terms of the brand, not if the entry followed the brief to the letter, and if the entry was had enough "It's a trap factor." (Which I must add I don't believe all villains have to have)

    Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

    I too like that villain a lot.

    While he offers a nice plot line he also seems a very memorable final encounter.

    Thumbs up from me.

    Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

    Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
    Hexcaliber wrote:

    Thank you for NOT telling us what he does with his dolls. I believed, at first that space constraints contributed to the vagueness, which it may. You leave enough to the DM's imagination so that the players can determine the depths of depravity.

    What I mean is, if I describe this guy as is to my players they are going to ask questions that cannot be immediately answered. That will creep them out. Some will think about forced tea parties, others will go darker. Much darker. Some things are best left unsaid if only to make someone wonder just how bad it is. This guy, thematically, works.

    I do wish people could see the benefit in not having all the information spelled out for you. There is a certain pay off in the anticipation.

    Stephen King has written some excellent material on this, talking about the difference between showing someone something and not showing them something and letting them imagine.

    In fact, I do stuff along those lines occasionally as a GM - I portray a situation in which there's some horrible but unseen opponent waiting in the wings, and when they players conjecture about what terrible thing it could be, sometimes I move what I had planned a step in that direction. Or more.

    After all, the game is about imagination - and if you paint a picture implying there's something terrible over the horizon, the players will imagine horrible things over the horizon.

    Shadow Lodge

    Stuart Hobbs wrote:

    +1 from me

    I couldn't agree more, I have no problem with a judge being critical and strict about what they're expecting but I also expect them to be consistent about it. Instead I'm seeing a lot of swingy scoring and blunt comments that come across like this was just phoned in.

    It was my understanding that Brand Management was meant to be a neutral aspect and...

    Going back and reviewing all of Ryan Dancey's (I dont even know who this person is, frankly), it shows a rather concieted "I'm better than this" attitude and a very poor grasp of the rules and what is already published by Paizo... he was berrating someone last round for not having an animal companion as a druid, when even the core druid may not have an animal companion.

    I hope people are not being swayed by the judge's input. This villain is awesome, and definitely seems to fit the brand Paizo is trying to sell, IMO.

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