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Heh. No, age six is correct. I was afflicted with a touch of "child prodigy."

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Good physical description of a villain who's at least a twist on the merry happy (or randy) dancing satyr. Initially, I'm interested.
However, I read on and find no explanation of the "mysterious holocaust" that turned Rustin Harp to villainy. Worse, he turns out to be yet another insane baddie. Harboring a guiding insanity that's going to lead him into dooming himself.
An interesting idea guided straight into limited-use cliché land . . .
Which relegates him to "interesting NPC encounter" or even "monster of passing interest" status, not the ranks of memorable, stick around long enough to become a thorn in PC party sides (or behinds), so . . . with a little regret, not recommended for advancement.

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A perfectly believable villain, but one that is inevitably going to come across as a buffoon. Even if he scares PCs momentarily because they find themselves battling multiple (construct) buffoons who just might overwhelm them through sheer firepower and numbers, and they later relish destroying said constructs and the master because they're so over-the-top sneering and insufferable, a confrontation with Hecataeus is going to wind up being a "blessed release/blow off steam" encounter, not PCs facing off against a memorable villain.
Interesting idea, but not a winning foe, in this company.
Sorry, but not recommended for advancement.

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I didn't get the chance to read this entry until after Mr. Peterson had commented on it - - and when I read his comments, I tossed aside what I'd written to simply say: Clark, you have said what I was going to say, more vividly than I could have.
And we're in precise agreement, so much so that I could only sound like an echo. So let your words stand for me, with (I'm afraid) the same recommendation: sorry, no advancement for this one. It's a vampire.
Lovely writing (yes, over the top here and there, but I can live with that). I've enjoyed reading the grisly bits several times over. Yet no amount of lush writing can disguise the fact that this is . . . a vampire.
So, nix on this one, and yes, it IS a pity. Me, I'm waiting for the movie . . . (As the pitiless moon falls on their bared curves, the brides murmur longingly, through wetly bubbling lips, "Cermyk . . .")

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Initial Impression: Okay, lose the name. I know who Elric is, and this guy isn’t Elric. “Gibnem”? Sigh. Now I know why you went with Elric.

Concept: So he’s a place-spirit, and keeps his valley green at the cost of an annual blood sacrifice. I’m not sure this makes him a villain, if he’s “bound” into his role (and, BTW, I’d like to know by whom and what the limits of what he’s “compelled” to do are). No, I’m not idly curious; I’m a DM seeking vital roleplaying information that should be here.

Execution: So is the sacrifice a “new adult” (as it says first in the submission) or a “child” (as it says later)? If the “elders” do all the annual dirty work, I need to know who and what (stats) they are, and I need to know what aid the spirit can give them (or use himself) in a battle with PCs. Gibnem can certainly be an opponent of the PCs in a battle to prevent one of the sacrifices or for control of the valley, but again, I’m not sure this makes him a villain, just a bound servitor. I’m not trying to argue ethics, here, I’m pointing at the fact that if he’s bound to service by someone or something more powerful, we need to know about them - - as in, will they swoop down to fight the PCs, too? - - and a lot more about Gibnem’s character, too; is he content with his role? Does HE see it as “right”? (After all, hiding the sacrifice from the people may be to keep them happier [that is, their lives better] than if they knew about the sacrifices, not necessarily, from his viewpoint, to hide something he “knows” is bad/evil/a crime.) I get into these waters because a nature deity that takes life (an inevitable part of nature, after all) need not be inherently evil for doing so, and a compelled servitor can be seen the same way. I need to know how Gibnem thinks and feels about it.

Tilt: There’s word count not used, here, and some vital matters it should have been used on. Such as what Gibnem’s powers are, both in combat and more long-term nature stuff. (If he can control the weather in the valley, for example, a DM can have him do that in such a severe way that the PCs can never even reach him, after they’ve been blown flat to the ground and pinned there by winds, frozen by a sudden ice storm and stuck to the ground, then crushed and shattered by the rolling boulders of an avalanche . . . and their remains swallowed by a chasm that opens in the earth and then closes “above” them, so the valley-dwellers never even know the PCs were there at all. Hmm, not much of a fight, was it?)
Again, it’s crucial that the DM get to know Gibnem’s viewpoint, too. (Remember the apple-throwing trees in the WIZARD OF OZ movie? Unpleasant, yes, and affected by the evil witch, but don’t forget they were wronged by the good guys first, who picked an apple off one of them.) Otherwise I don’t know how best to roleplay him. Is he a smothering “We LOVE you” sort, or a ruthless killer in defense of his valley?

Overall: I’m intrigued by Gibnem, but I’m not given enough detail in this submission to be able to run Gibnem in play, or even understand him. So this one fails, for me.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

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Initial Impression: A shrewd, unscrupulous merchant. Stock villain in an urban setting or along a trade route unless he’s been designed so as to make him stand out. So, has he been? Otherwise, I’m not feeling excitement . . .

Concept: A halfling who stands up for the Halflings against all other races. And has good family reasons for doing so. And a drive to succeed in business by all means, fair and foul. Fine, understandable, and a deployable villain. Yet seemingly still a pretty ordinary one.

Execution: Good, clear writing. Just one minor (and it is minor) style cavil: I get a list of the agents he works through and it ends in ”And so on”? Ah, c’mon, tell me what the “et cetera” is. (Pssst! There’s no tomorrow for me to hang on for; the submission has to Tell All, or pay the price.)
I’m more concerned with not getting enough meaty examples of Dalatai’s tactics (other than that he always works through others). I do get what drives him (the need to avenge slights done to his father [about which we don't quite learn enough for them to have emotional impact, by the way]; the chance to personally beat a human; the search for the mask), which is good.

Tilt: I want more excitement, but somehow this submission has spurred me to start thinking of ways to jazz up this villain, instead of not caring and turning away. See below . . .

Overall: The versatility and deployability of this villain won out over my concerns about his blandness, but not by much. This villain seems more “useful” than “memorable” to me, and as a DM I’d want to spice him up more than a bit. Give him colorful allies or girlfriends plus a secret or two. Perhaps something he must do for the family that his father failed to do, that other surviving family members will judge him on . . . and perhaps some personal magical immunity or “make magic go wild” factor that he doesn’t entirely understand, so he’ll learn it along with the PCs as they battle him again and again. Perhaps he has doubles who will lay down their lives for him in battles with the PCs so the real Dalatai survives to scheme against the PCs more effectively in future. I need SOMEthing. I need more excitement. Yet, I can work with this villain, so though I perhaps should nix it as too weak or ordinary, I’ll say yes.

Recommendation: Recommended (lukewarmly, I’m afraid) for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Something potentially different. Good. Human ranger who keeps to the forests, the very forests he wants to burn - - huh? Okay, I’m sensing trouble but I’m intrigued. Onward . . .

Concept: Human archer who’s after elves. Effectively enough to have earned himself a nickname, and to be feared.

Execution: Language clear (aside from a handful of minor grammar and spelling glitches) and the descriptions good, but they’re (almost entirely) external. I need only the details of how Haldon and Razor communicate, and the depths of Razor’s loyalty, to have all I need to know about Razor . . . but Haldon’s a different matter. If he can “bring out the wicked side” of forest creatures, turning them into “twisted forest horrors,” I really need to know HOW, and the limits of this potentially-formidable power. It’s not something the rangers I’m familiar with can do, so . . . I’m glimpsing a possibly cool new power? TELL ME ABOUT IT!
This Jade Shadow must have some special powers of some sort. Or else he operates in a fantasy setting where the elves of the forests are incredibly incompetent. Repeatedly he peppers elf guards with arrows and gets away clean, while they see only a shadow? What sort of guards are they, if he’s established this fearsome rep? And when he runs out of handy elf guards to kill, are the PCs supposed to obligingly step into this “Hi, we’re your fodder for tonight” role? I’m not thinking the PCs I’m used to seeing in my games will. I’m thinking we’ll have one dead human archer in a hurry, with a bear going down a few rounds later (or, if Razor runs interference, the other way around). That’s a monster encounter, not a memorable villain, I’m afraid.
I’m not even sure if he’s just jealous of elves of the forest, or is a full-blown xenophobe. As a DM, I’d like to know; will he work with an elf who hates the same elves, in order to destroy more elves? What happens if he’s confronted by a clearly-superior elf foe? We’re told he’s “cowardly,” but will he bide his time and pretend to work with the elf if he must (or to avoid being slain out of hand), or flee, or go nuts? I need to know more of Haldon’s character, to run him properly.

Tilt: If he has a special power to create “twisted forest horrors” that he can control (as opposed to helplessly emanating something; we get hints that he notices when the “horrors” are killed; is he sensing this? Or just observing?), this has the makings of an interesting, deployable villain. However, as presented, the Jade Shadow could just be a sordid, one-note elf-hater with a faithful attack dog, oops: bear.

Overall: In the end, this submission didn’t grab me. I’m intrigued by that potential power, but it’s been left entirely undeveloped. So what we have is an idea, and a small-time foe for elves who MIGHT be built up into a villain. If, that is, the DM rolls up their design sleeves and gets to work, not picking up and just using what’s here.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Is this a villain? Religious zealot, yes, but he seems to have good or at least benign traits. Different, yes, so I’m interested, but . . .

Concept: So we have a slow, patient character who values loyalty and education. Patriarchal, perhaps, but I’m not seeing villainy.

Execution: Nothing wrong with the writing style. However, I’m mystified as to Father Avon’s motives, and what he’s like as a PERSON. Hobbies? Favorite food? Interests, that a PC could possibly lure him with? Anything?
Without more, I can’t even be sure if he’s a nutcase (he “knows that he will ultimately triumph” so is that knowing self-delusion, or is he privy to divine foreknowledge, or - - what?) or a god or divine avatar (perhaps of limited self-awareness, who will remember his full power and godhood when something specific happens or is achieved). Again, I’m interested but baffled. A villain? Still can’t tell. A gigantic dinosaur can squash you flat, but if it does so without noticing you, or by misunderstanding what you are or your intent towards it, does that make it a villain? Or just a monster? Or just part of an unfortunate circumstance? If he really is "immortal," tell me more. How so? If the PCs destroy him, does he just "come back"? If the PCs can't destroy him, what then? Or does the submission mean to say "won't die of natural causes"? Regardless, I need an answer, and the wrong one will rob the character of "game balance" or suspense (if you CAN'T destroy him, there goes the neighborhood . . . and perhaps the campaign).

Tilt: I’m not seeing a villain here. I’m seeing a character pursuing his own goals that a DM could deploy so as to bring him into conflict with PCs, but it’s going to have to be the DM’s doing; there’s nothing inherently villainous in Father Avon as prevented. (And “Father” of what faith? For that matter, I’d have chosen another name than “Avon,” a modern real-world trademarked line of goods as well as a publishing imprint as well as a place name.) I need to see inside this character more, to see how to run him.

Overall: I’m sorry, but in the end I can see this character being used as a villain, but I can’t see the character (as presented) as BEING a villain. My interest is mired in confusion, not sparking lots of adventure ideas, so . . . for me, this submission has failed. I WANT to like and use this character, but what's presented just doesn't say "villain" to me. NPC, yes, still with some questions to be answered, but . . . no.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: An old concept (the monster-transforming mad scientist) presented in a fresh, vivid way. I’m interested.

Concept: So this NPC is personally driven, and isn’t the stereotypical “evil and mustache-twirling loving it” villain. He will very likely come into collision with the PCs, but could just as easily be resorted to by them to help an injured PC, or be considered useful and helpful by a trusted PC ally. I’m liking this.

Execution: Da Monster Maker! Yet differentiated from the stock cliché enough that I’m forgetting the cliché in my deepening interest in Bracht. Who is described clearly and strongly. I ASSUME the eyes and mouths he grafts onto himself in hidden places “work,” but just a word or two would have confirmed that. Can the extra mouths just bite (do damage) and perhaps suck blood, or are they connected to digestive tracts and can feed him? Are the eyes fully connected to the brain and give him the same sort of vision as his own, or are they more primitive light-sensors? Again, I ASSUME everything works because of his mentioned success in grafting things onto clients and creating “working” monsters, but it’s important to tell me the limits of his skills, how quickly he can graft, whether subjects (willing or unwilling) are protected against trauma . . . because his ending up doing surgery on PCs is likely. I don’t need reams of rules, but a sentence or two of guidance would help me not only run Bracht in the short term, it would let me as DM understand Bracht so I can better extrapolate and use him long-term.

Tilt: We get both Bracht’s goal and logical adventure hooks associated with it. Good, bases covered. Yet reading about the extra mouths and eyes grafted onto his own body, and that he’s careful to place them where they’re normally concealed by clothing, a question arises: does he have no intimates? What’s his cover story if someone does see something. Telling me something swift and short on these matters would again deepen my understanding of Bracht so I can visualize him better, and run him better.

Overall: This submission is like a successful “big-picture” strategy; some of the short-term, nitty-gritty details have been missed, but the shining plan grabs me. I want to use this character, and he can serve as ally, villain, and competitor for resources with the PCs, switching among these roles several times, in an ongoing RPG campaign. I’m in.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Like the idea of someone seeking to save the world from dreams by exterminating all dreamers, but is all the “reincarnated elf to human druid now turned lich” stuff really necessary? I’m interested but confused, so this had better be good . . .

Concept: A dedicated druid (deluded into thinking other dreamers are pawns of creatures about to invade from a dream world) who “engineers” plagues and orchestrates breeding programs (presumably to increase the numbers of unsleeping elves and decrease all those dreaming humans)? I’m interested, but tell me more about how one engineers a plague to target just one part of an ecosystem and leave the rest of the system untouched or unreacting. That’s like telling me “my villain has a superweapon that does this, but I won’t tell you how it does it.” Grrr.

Execution: Interesting origin story. I read his “latest obsession is” and now know he goes from obsession to obsession. Good; mind telling me what some of them are? Aside from this one cauldron that you won’t tell me anything about except that it doesn’t work yet? I tumble to the obvious (the material component search can be an adventure or two), but await any lore about what the cauldron will do, once it’s working. Is it a Death Star? Or does it brew potions that just stop dreams? Or does it turn dreaming humans into sleepless elves? WHAT? Hmm, like the intrigues to install elven rulers, but notice another flaw; some of the adventure hooks don’t necessarily have to have anything to do with this character at all.

Tilt: The “eliminating dreamers” idea still grabs me, but is the dream world real? It seems so, from the last adventure hook, so what world (or plane, or whatever) is it? Should I wander back through old D&D editions and pick a place “aberrations” can come from? I know I CAN, but what did the designer have in mind here? And why didn’t he tell me?

Overall: The idea still intrigues me, so I’m letting my heart overrule my head and saying I WANT to run with this one strongly enough that I’ll try. Yet there’s so much missing here that I feel this is a half-developed idea, not a fully-drawn villain.

Recommendation: Recommended (but only just) for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Subtle spymaster who juggles many plots and does the minimum to achieve success, being cautious rather than flashy. Good, I’m interested.

Concept: Spymaster of a cult, working to return a god to the world. Well, clichés are clichés because they have worked for so many. As a not-yet-achieved motivation, the Moeris angle is fine with me. Oooh, a long list of specific missions and goals along the way; I’m in!

Execution: Clear language. I’m not a particular fan of lists, but here they get a lot of information across without wasting words, so I can live with the format. I don’t feel I’ve been taken inside the character, though. I get outward appearance and hints of what’s going on inside by how he lets himself visibly change when in private, no more. INSPIRE me. Make me WANT to use this guy.

Tilt: If it wasn’t for all the “he’ll try this, and still needs to do that” stuff, I’d want to nix this submission because I just don’t get to know the villain well enough. He’s a carefully-controlled, subtle, nondescript man - - and that leaves me yawning. So are all these stock-fantasy-cliché castle guards who stand motionless and expressionless at their posts for hours. Make me interested in Kar-en-haris. Please.

Overall: Lots of useable stuff here, but it’s the only reason I’m (just) giving a guarded thumbs-up to Mr. Cipher. He can be subtle, nondescript, and unreadable to the outside world, but as a DM I need to know what he’s really like. And if he’s “subtle, nondescript, and unreadable” on the inside, I’ve already hit the floor snoring. Which means I’m going to have to do all the heavy lifting on my own to do anything more with Kar-en-haris than leave my players snoring, too.

Recommendation: Recommended (but in a decidedly lukewarm manner) for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Vividly-told origin is almost the entire entry. One-note, driven villain. Um, how is this guy different from all the more violent sorts of druid?

Concept: A tear-down-the-cities guy. Yes, he’s a druid, but he’s an ANGRY druid. An avenger of his lost love and partner, but still . . . yes, a stock druid.

Execution: Specific tactics revealed in adventure hooks is good, because I’m being given something firm to do with this character. Clear, straightforward prose. However, there’s nothing here that lifts Bricius out of “some druids are gentle, saddened, Keep-the-Balance sorts, and some fight to let the jungle back in (Kipling, anyone?), and this guy is one of the second sort” territory.

Tilt: I can’t find anything that inspires me here. I feel the character’s pain and therefore anger, but he took his revenge on the lumbermen What Done It. So something snapped, and he wants all civilization torn down, got it, fine, and . . . aside from the adventure hooks, there’s nothing else here. Nothing. I know what Bricius looks like, but nothing more. Which means there’s nothing to move him beyond “Angry Druid” into memorable villain category. I’m told he’s calm enough to use tricks, traps, diseases, and the like rather than dying in an all-out personal assault on settlement after settlement, but only the adventure hooks have any tactics.

Overall: Not just “the Forest Man,” this guy is the Hollow Man. A violent druid; I got nothing else.

Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Brought a smile to my face reading it. Yesss. “With friends like these, who needs . . .”

Concept: The smiling friend who’s a peril, because they’re using (and expending) you for their own ends. All dressed up in a sexy package. Too good to be true if deployed hastily by a DM, but a great campaign thread if worked over the long term . . . and longevity is one hallmark of a superb villain. Easily defeated if unmasked early, so a roleplaying challenge for the DM, which in turn allows the DM to really enjoy running her.

Execution: So, does the development match the idea? Nicely-done (if a little unsubtle) adventure hooks. An emphasis is put on Sharina’s closeness to the PC party, which is the only way she’ll be lastingly effective. There’s a lot of work ahead for the DM (how’s your sexy singing voice? lyric writing?), but clear direction for it all. Even an endgame is provided.

Tilt: I like. The multiple forms of peril and mayhem Sharina can devise keeps her from being one-note, and she can serve as a DM’s way of explaining away (in hindsight) too-convenient plot coincidences, foes seeming to be able to read PC minds, wildly dramatic confrontations, and so on.

Overall: This one’s a hit with me. My mind is churning away on all sorts of adventures I can spin with this character, so this submission sure worked for me. A sleeper villain, too, rather than the usual maniacal or coldly ruthless foe clearly labeled “enemy” from the start. Good!

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Nicely-described, but looks like a one-note serial killer. Could be very useful in a crowded urban fantasy setting with lots of already-well-developed NPCs, but is there enough here to make her memorable? Doesn’t look like it.

Concept: Murderer who kills because they love cat-and-mouse chases and defeating their victim. Nothing new here. The “siblings” is a nice wrinkle.

Execution: Clear communication, tells the DM lots of definite things about the character, and describes her, at first glance, strongly. Aside from the siblings, the classic loner. Not memorable, nothing really colorful that inspires me (desirable, athletic female who’s a murderer? might have been shocking to the Victorians, but was an old cliché over forty years ago when I was young, and I’m not seeing anything new here). Solid adventure hooks.

Tilt: I read over the entry again and again, and always end up seeing this as a promising beginning that leads to a one-note villain: the murderess who enjoys hunting and killing her victims. No aims beyond that, no meat to her, nothing to make her a memorable villain. If she succeeds, the PC dies. If she fails, she’s gone, or just circling around to try a PC slaying again. After she fails a second or third time, she becomes far less impressive as a foe and very predictable; if she succeeds, the players haven’t really gotten to know her as a villain or enjoy any of the contests. As a “mystery woman” they have to hunt down because she’s killing others, she’s marginally more interesting - - but still not stepping out of too-familiar, too-one-dimensional territory. I want MORE. Tactics, recent successes, a Saint-like calling card left on the bodies . . . SOMEthing. Or I’m just not getting the spark of interest that I need, to make this character a memorable villain.

Overall: A disappointment. Too thin and hollow for “big” villain status, and nothing is done with the siblings/family idea that could have made this so much more interesting.

Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Vividly described brute of a monster. A monster trying to become a villain, but I’m not sure he’s made it yet; better take a closer look . . .

Concept: Big bad ruling monster who wants to become bigger. As in, godlike. (Egads! It’s a North American corporate CEO!)

Execution: Arrgh. Tell me MORE about Ssyth’ek’s CHARACTER. He’s ruthless, check. Canny. Check, but tell me HOW to play him that way. What traps does he lure enemies into? You’ve told me his swamp tactics, but the usefulness of that is nil unless the PCs blunder into it, and you’re telling me he’s expanding beyond the swamp so as to become more powerful . . . so what are his tactics outside the swamp? Pedestrian adventure hook that works only in the swamp, but somehow Lord of the Swamp doesn’t make for a memorable villain unless the swamp is the major focus of a lot of campaign play - - and there’s nothing here to make it attractive to your average PC party of adventurers. I’ve traveled through swamps (not in armor!) and hated it; I’d not do it again without a darned good reason to go into or through there. So my RPG character equivalent is never going to cross paths with Ssyth’ek unless he reaches out beyond the swamp. You’re telling me he’s doing so, so tell me how (in what way, and brushing up against the PCs how?).
The devour-Daddy mechanic for getting stronger is good, but I need more about Ssyth’ek’s diabolical villainy. Puff up, sweat poison, great visual, but what villainy does he DO? Stand around diabolically hissing? Give me something I can spin adventures from, here. And giving him the (self-appointed, I presume) title “He Who Devours Demons” sorta telegraphs something he’d be far wiser to keep silent about until he’s actually managed the devouring. Tipping Gragrorrp off as to his intentions might just make Ssyth’ek a casualty before the PCs ever get anywhere near him.

Tilt: Monster brute vividly drawn; good. Has ambitions to be greater, fine. Is described in such a way for him to function as a memorable villain (as opposed to a “boss” monster foe behind a few running battles in a swamp)? Sorry, but no. I’m interested, but I’ve not been given enough to run with.

Overall: This could have been great. With the right design work on the part of the DM, it can be great, or at least solid. Yet not enough design work has been done here to get the DM inspired or setting to work in a specific direction. This submission is an idea that makes it to “spiced-up monster,” but not to a properly-developed villain.

Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Uh-oh. Are players in RPGs stupid enough to fall for this sort of villain? Or bad enough roleplayers (as in: once it was clear we were on an organ hunt, my CHARACTER would probably be having second thoughts as to the advisability of helping to literally recreate a monster - - and if the PCs then toss her head-plus-tongue-plus-whatever down the nearest mineshaft or chasm, where’s your ongoing memorable villain then?)?

Concept: The old, old, “waiting for the King of the Cats” shtick. Which can be VERY effective, but I’m hoping for a plot twist here. It’s even called “the Twistwood Witch”! Wait, no twist? NO TWIST?

Execution: If I’m a DM accustomed to running hack-and-slash, an undead goblin head is a monster; hack it apart, lads! If I’m a DM who fully develops humanoid societies, my players will be thinking “goblins . . . shamans . . . this is possibly a shamanistic thing of power and therefore Bad News to goblins if we learn how to handle it, or it’s Bad News for us, right now." And if this has a name and accompanying myth, "the goblin we get to spill it to us is going to tell us enough about Malgana" (good name, BTW) "that we’ll know we should dump this head, here and now." Hmm.
Great vivid scene of how the Witch reabsorbs her body parts, but as presented, this villain comes with that carrot-and-stick “here’s the adventure that uses her, and the PCs have this scripted part to play in it” - - and I just don’t seen any enticements to them to do so, or guaranteed gullability enough on their parts, ditto.
I’m not given any details for the “power upgrades” for Malgana as she regains bits of herself (which I’ll need to know, if there’s any combat at all) . . . and I’m not given enough about Malgana as a character to know how to portray her, or any guidance in how she subsequently plans or attempts to kill the PCs or for that matter take revenge on those goblin tribes. To paraphrase the old lady of the burger advertising campaign: “Where’s the goblin meat?”

Tilt: Disappointment again. The enforced quest-for-body-parts sharply narrows the versatility of this villain, handcuffing the DM - - who is not rewarded with enough useful detail about Malgana to make her interesting. Oh, I can make her speak like Yoda, but then what?

Overall: A classic fairy tale element that could make for an interesting villain, if the challenges of the reassembling the body quest are overcome. Unfortunately, “could make” are where this submission ends; we didn’t get enough to make a memorable, three-dimensional villain. Some momentary horror-movie visuals, yes. Plots or subplots for my RPG adventures, no. Not even any adventure hooks, because we’re tied to the reassembly plot. Thumbs down.

Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Not another alluring priestess wanting to found and further a faith! This had BETTER be good. (No, I don’t mean lots of participants in the Superstar are pushing priestesses at us, I mean this idea is not a new one, so I’m looking for excellent execution (or it’s probably not going to grab me).

Concept: Ambitious cynic or believer seeking to build a cult. Nothing new, but a classic villain motivation because it can work. Unfortunately, it’s rarely well handled, so I’m looking for this to be an exception.

Execution: Stilted, sometimes over-the-top, often somewhat confusing writing mars a fairly good physical description. Yet that’s it; that’s where the description fades out. I never get inside Zelicia’s head, never get anything I can take hold of to tell me how she walks, talks, and thinks. Especially thinks. I’m given some goals, but no impression of how, in a daily manner, she seeks to carry any of them out. I feel like I’m reading a film script’s capsule description of the first on-screen appearance of a character, not something intended for a roleplayer to grasp a character. I’m left thinking if I and another DM were both handed this entry and told to portray this NPC, we could quite likely end up doing it in entirely different ways - - because there’s no guidance here that would steer us in the same direction.

Tilt: “I am the Scorpion Mistress - - er, Master! Fear me! See? They caress me, they obey me! And when I order them to, they will come for YOU!” I’m TRYING to make this come alive - - but when I do, am left with the conclusion that I’m creating a Johnny One-Note, because I have so little to work with. The one bright spot: the milked venom as a business to fund her work. However, “As both an extra source of revenue,”? Why the “both”? What got forgotten and omitted here?

Overall: Undeveloped. In the end, an idea without any lore to make this villain usable, let alone attractive to a DM and memorable in play. Sigh.

Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: The “mild-mannered, no-one-will-suspect him” milquetoast by day, sadistic hunter/killer by night. A stock nutcase villain, this one low-level, urban, and fairly socially polished. For me: yawn, I’m afraid.

Concept: A well-worn cliché. We get a proper explanatory back story, but nothing really interesting about Corey as he is right now. His very nondescript, easily-overlooked nature makes him uninteresting until the moment he actually comes into physical conflict with the PCs - - and dooms him into being less than memorable then, even if he escapes and becomes a tireless, energetic foe. We just don’t get given enough here to grab me.

Execution: A few minor grammar glitches, but clear communication. One good point: a physical attribute (the ice blue eyes) that a DM can use in play to give PCs any shred of a chance to identify the killer “by day.” Against that, I have to place the total lack of anything interesting about Montellan Corey except that he’s a sadistic killer. Even if a DM does a lot of work setting up colorful and beloved NPCs and having him butcher his way through the lot of them, upsetting players until they activately hate the unknown killer, Corey will remain a black hole of disinterest when they do start hunting him, unless I as a DM do a lot of work to bring him to life.

Tilt: Malcolm McDowell made the villain in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE come alive for us by the manically-smiling way he portrayed the character. I look in vain for ANYTHING in this entry to engage me with Montellan Corey, to make me interested in using him or to make him interesting for the players when their characters encounter him . . . and it’s not there.

Overall: A disappointment. If I’m being handed a crazy villain, give me something quirky or weird or chilling (beyond just sadism and a good false face hiding it) to make me want to use the villain. Otherwise, like the PCs, I just want him found and dead as quickly as possible, like a rat hiding in your back closet.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A believable, nicely-drawn NPC. Not sure he’s much of a villain at all. Perhaps for a novice-level party of PC adventurers who rub him the wrong way.

Concept: A well-thought-through integration of a gnoll into a multi-racial city. A “street tough” or “alley boss,” who will make a good long-term villain only if he survives encounters with the PCs (if he runs, he’d lose his street cred, and he hasn’t been portrayed as a back-down-from-opponents sort).

Execution: Some minor grammar glitches, but good, clear communicative prose that gives a DM “absolutes” about the character and not a lot of guesswork. What's missing is use of the "orator" bit, which could lift Fashym from the role of "one-shot, soon-downed" minor villain to the role of "pain in the PCs' collective behinds" who can mobilize a neighborhood or even a city against them.

Tilt: Too ordinary, weak, and lacking in exciting spice to be much of a villain, memorable or otherwise. Could make a great supporting cast “manipulator” sort (the character who steers PCs into battles with nasty foes, or who frames them for the misdeeds of others). Yet I’m reaching for possibilities here, not having vivid, grab-me play possibilities laid before me in the entry.

Overall: Fashion (sorry, “Fashym;” say the name aloud a couple of times and ask yourself if you can live with it in play, or are unintentionally coming up with something that won’t fit well with the setting - - and if that’s a deliberate choice, urkhh) is fading away in my mind already. He’s well-drawn, but just not villainous enough. He comes across as a bystander in a fight scene, or “a guy who goes down in one blow,” not a villain. He might survive to become more powerful if he was a skulker, but he’s not portrayed as having carved out such a niche; he “as the ear of the city.” Which means he’s going to end up lying in a spreading puddle of his own gore the moment he deals with most PC parties.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Ah, the fetid Dweller In The Sewers. A useful urban prime mover, and although the idea is such a cliché that urban-adventuring PCs sometimes assume the existence of such a foe before they even have clear evidence of same, this one at least is different in nature than the usual subterranean crime boss. I’ve used intelligent otyugh before, with other misfit-in-a-human-city monsters working with them, but I had more formidable villains “above” the otyugh (who, let’s face it, usually can’t easily sidle undetected away from fights).

Concept: A deployable, versatile behind-the-scenes, long-term villain. Everything seems “thought through” here, giving me a clear sense of our unhandsome villain and his (“his”? ooh, is he seeking a mate? or planning on “building” one? [delicious shudder]) associates.

Execution: A strong collection of motivations and goals is provided to guide the DM in spinning adventure after encounter after scheme involving Gulga, in an ongoing city campaign. We get enough here to visualize how to use this villain for a long time.

Tilt: Gotta love a “trader in diseases.” The adventure hooks provided are fairly pedestrian/obvious, but the “Schemes/Plots” wording more than makes up for that. I could run this guy for years without having to extrapolate much from what’s given.

Overall: Nice, new packaging of a villain to fill an old, familiar slot. Thorough work.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A believeable mid- to low-level villain with clear motivations. Nothing exciting but very deployable. Hey, wait, where’s the real meat?

Concept: Not wildly original, but a useful campaign idea.

Execution: Minor language glitches, but fairly clear communication. The problem here is insufficient roleplaying detail of Derinogen himself (is he an iron-self-control, calculating, superb-actor type, or a lot less than that?) and a design that puts all eggs in one basket: those elixirs, potions, and ointments that continually augment the mage’s abilities but about which we are otherwise told nothing. Where does he get his knowledge of the formulae for these wonders? Where does he get the ingredients? Are there side-effects? Flaws? Has no one even begun to suspect what’s going on with all of these deaths? Adventure possibilities hinge on all of these things - - but we get nothing. It’s like opening a nice-looking, wonderfully-smelling pie and discovering there’s no filling in it.

Tilt: I’d like a few swift sentences that take me “inside the mind” of Derinogen so I know who he is, rather than looking at him from outside. I need to know how to run him as a DM. More than that, I REALLY need to know more about specific elixirs he still has or is seeking, if he has any “false” or “trap” elixirs waiting for the overly-inquisitive, and who works for him procuring the ingredients for making the elixirs, et al. Does he need a constant supply of adventuring bands, so he can use a new bunch to slaughter an older bunch once they “know too much” about him? What sort of special quaffs has he saved up for a big escape or big fight, once someone corners and confronts him? SOMETHING regarding all of this should be here!

Overall: A motivation and overall insecurity of character that rings true. We have the makings of a real rat here, but get no glimpse “behind the mask,” and nothing that grabs me as a DM trying to set up a campaign. . Given only what appears in this entry, I’d put Derinogen to work as a secondary, background villain, ready to rush in and seize potions and elixirs from the lair of a primary villain as the PCs defeat that bigger baddie.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement for deployability, but only JUST. These are the bare bones of an idea, not a villain really ready for prime time, yet.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A servant of a deity, driven and therefore predictable. Nice, vivid image of the headless caravan.

Concept: A well-worn cliché presented vividly and effectively.

Execution: Effective, simple descriptive writing, with a few minor problems (that should be “bear a head” rather than “bare a head”), but some design gaps. How do offerings of the heads of other creatures benefit Ydersius? Why does he want them? Tell me, here and now, in this entry. Is Sartel now his unshakably loyal servant? Or is she awaiting some promised reward? Will Ydersius gain power when his head is reunited with his body? WHAT power? If the world is doomed when that happens, how does Sartel gain by it?

Tilt: Oh, ya gotta get ahead in the world. Ahem. In the case of Sartel and Ydersius, I’d love to know why. So, yes, my interest has been captured. However, not a lot has been given me here to feed my interest with anything more speculation . . . and frustration. Tell me more! (Whenever gods are involved, this is a perennial refrain of gamers; we always want to Know More. Indulge us. If you want us to be able to make Sartel an effective villain, tell us some of this "More" right here and right now.)

Overall: Sartel is a one-note villain, but the presence of Ydersius in the caravan can make encounters interesting if he is given formidable powers, the DM uses them, and Sartel is run as being aware of, and exploiting, the powers of the god’s head. A pity all of that is missing here. Is Sartel cunning? Does she hiss with anger, and get angry quickly? Is she as subtle as a hurled stone, or does she lay traps and think ahead?

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement, but in a VERY lukewarm to tepid manner. Just because the imagery grabbed me, and the setup information offers a wide embrace to possibilities, not because the goods were really delivered.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A religious bone devil. That sits in a lotus position, telepathically chanting. Different, yes. Villainous? Hmm . . .

Concept: I’m not a fan of “evil creatures following their natures” being primary villains. It’s like condemning (or praising) Lassie for being a dog. So when confronted with one, I need to be impressed. (Otherwise, the predictability of the villain, by knowing its natgure - - and in this case, its faith, too - - is going to be a DMing problem.) If Phenyekashi “is at best only peripherally aware of” its corruptive effect, how is it villainous (as opposed to being preoccupied, or disinterested)? I’m not seeing evil intent here - - or much action, for that matter.

Execution: How exactly does Phenyekashi do villainous things? How strong is its telepathy? Even if it corrupts living things into evil thoughts when they’re within a hundred feet, how does it make them act on those thoughts when they move farther away? If there’s a lasting effect, I need to be told so. Even better, tell me precisely what effects it can have, and the intent with which it chants . . . or we may have no villain at all here, just an interesting (albeit occasionally mobile) landscape feature.

Tilt: Originality is certainly strong here, but some coherence (and essential detail) is lacking. The last adventure hook includes the words: “if this is Phenyekashi's true goal.” That’s good enough for the NPC murmuring gossip to PCs in the tavern, but in a villain entry I, as DM, want to hear “X is [or is not] Phenyekashi's true goal.” Tell me truths; don’t leave me trying to portray a mystery, or incorporate it into a campaign.
The titles "Plucker of Wings" and "Destroyer of Second Chances" imply some deliberate (and evil) activity, but the entry gives no hint that Phenyekashi ever does anything active except move to a new area to corrupt. And without villainy, we have no villain.
(At worst, we have an object of ridicule, like the ridiculous schoolyard braggart who warns, "I'm BAAAAAD," but never gets up out of a chair to do anything.)

Overall: Not enough of a villain, and not enough detailed or suggested villainy centered on this introspective (and therefore, presumably, almost or entirely non-spellcasting) cleric, for me to be inspired to use it in a campaign in the role of a villain.

Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A rakshasa, presented as this “classic” creature should be (and all too seldom has been, in published RPG lore). No more and no less.

Concept: Nothing original here, just a rakshasa thoroughly and lovingly described. (Gotta love a villain you can smell.)

Execution: Strong, effective descriptive prose that packs a lot of detail into smooth narrative. A lot of ground is covered with ease.

Tilt: Not a wrong note struck here; this villain is detailed into “life” and well-linked to adventuring possibilities and to the setting.

Overall: Strong, capable execution rescues a villain that doesn’t have originality added into the mix. Overall guidelines for how Varrush operates make up for a lack of detailed adventures or unique and fresh schemes, quirks, or motivations.

Recommendation: Recommended (albeit in a slightly lukewarm manner) for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A villain presented so effectively that I can not only see him in my mind; I’m scared of him!

Concept: Not strikingly original, but presented in a vivid manner that provides clear guidance to the DM in creating endless plots with Lord Jeroim at their heart. Nice to see a dwarf who isn’t the “gruff brawler with heart of gold” stereotype.

Execution: Very effective descriptive writing (though the origin story wins out, taking up a line or two that could have been devoted to right-now tactics or schemes Jeroim is employing or furthering).
The second hook has a nice “bandit foe replaced by a more formidable foe” twist, the sort of thing too seldom seen in published RPG adventures but which many experienced DMs practice frequently.

Tilt: So what’s the relationship now between Lord Jeroim (he’s “Lord” of what, exactly? Prominent or respected where?) and his Master, the dragon who taught him? Is he is business for himself, or sending riches back to Braxulthis, or pretending to wholly serve the dragon but secretly enriching himself and plotting a coming doom for the dragon? More, please! If Jeorim hasn’t quite decided about his loyalties yet, what will push him one way or another? How can the PCs be involved?
The Hoard, now; who are some of its more capable members? What makes Jeroim decide when a tool is expendable, or when its value to the Hoard is greater than risking it, or its probable loss? I know it would take pages of text to exhaustively explore these topics, but a hint or two on these matters would have improved this entry greatly.

Overall: The villain certainly “came alive” for me when reading this entry, and so must be judged a success. I want more “how Jeroim operates” and more on his loyalties/long-term aims, though.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: The fallen, damned-by-gods holy man and the mad lich clichés combined. Sheesh; were I the unfortunate in those patchwork robes, I’d run around mumbling to non-existent goods, too!

Concept: I’m not seeing originality here, but I am seeing a potentially vivid (and VERY formidable) villain, presented in a way that interests me.

Execution: The second (seven-dignitaries) adventure hook is great; DM-inspiring meat for a long-running campaign. We get a good, vivid origin story and physical description, but too little about how Volner Tain speaks and acts (when not agitated - - and we don’t even really know what will make him agitated). Yet we DO get his inner motivations, so a DM can readily extrapolate and improvise. Yet I’m left wanting more: is Volner a lucid, clever madman? Gloating, cunning, a schemer? Or too often raving to plan anything for long? Or - - ?

Tilt: So his phylactery is a shard of black diamond? No definite confirming language here, nor anything about “their work” that the daemons returned him to Golarion to do; can he stray from it? Can they “step into his head” to control or manipulate him, or advise him of things they’ve seen (such as approaching PCs or PC tricks and traps) but he hasn’t? Does he consider himself their servant, or is he now unaware that they sent him back? Are Iomedae or any of the other deities he called upon seeking his redemption? Or his destruction? Or to manipulate him in some way? Including some definitive lore about this would have either reduced Volner Tain to one-note villainhood, or made him very interesting (and versatile, in campaign terms, to say nothing of far more formidable) indeed. As it is, the reader is left “on the outside, looking in” at Volner; it’s almost more a monster entry than a villain entry.

Overall: Looking this over, I feel as if the cliché factor and what’s missing should override my interest. Yet as I re-read the entry, I get a vivid mental picture of the lich and my designer’s mind is off and running, thinking of ways I can use Volner Tain, and how great a villain he can be. So the entry succeeds . . . just. My heart is overruling my head here.

Recommendation: Recommended (though in a lukewarm manner, I’m afraid) for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A pacifist who seeks to enforce non-violent lives on others. Beats me how he could have had so much success given his levels, unless adventurers are truly rare in the setting, but let that pass. :} I HATE the “Paradigm” name, because blurring the lines between the modern real world and vaguely medieval fantasy settings leads to lousy roleplaying, but that’s just my experience and my preferences.

Concept: A “pest” peacemaker villain. Not an original concept in fantasy fiction, but rarely seen in modern fiction and even more so in RPG adventures and sourcebooks.

Execution: I’d like a little more of Paradigm’s speech, manners, and reactions to confrontation or situations of stress. The rhetorical questions give him the air of the pompous priest, but IS he pompous? Or a zealot? Or imploring and agonized? These aren’t just idle questions to me, because it helps me decide as a DM how to make him react to PC reactions to him. Who are his “servants”? Numbers, capabilities; how formidable? Are these “redshirt” expendables, or competent spies, or formidable foes? And is the “town” threatened in the hook the same as the “city” Paradigm feeds, which is full of “townsfolk”? These townsfolk regard Paradigm as very much a good guy, yes, but will they actively protect him (i.e. use violence to protect him from violence)? Would he want them to, or seek to stop them, endangering himself in the process? I need to know just a LITTLE more here, to keep Paradigm from being a “can’t figure this guy out” cipher. Is he insane, deluded, or truly favored of Shelyn and thus improbably successful and perhaps divinely protected?

Tilt: I’m interested, but almost despite myself. As a designer, I wince at the holes here; like cheap Swiss cheese, I’m presented with almost more holes than edible goodness. How do higher-ranking clergy of the faith regard Paradigm? Will they aid him in force (and if so, how?) or let him perish of his own folly, if he goes up against the PCs? Also, the last line of the hook doesn’t necessarily follow; if the PCs for some reason MUST stay to defend the place, ignoring Paradigm and the townsfolk and just bringing in mercenaries (or spellcasting allies) enough to deal with these “agents of wrath” might very well be faster and more effective than stopping Paradigm’s interference. If I’m told doom is inevitable, as a roleplayer I’d better be told WHY, because I’m already looking for ways around such absolutes (such as rival faiths, for example).

Overall: An intriguing possibility, but I’m not seeing enough meaty lore here to guide me in making Paradigm a formidable or long-term foe; a memorable villain rather than a pest. If he’s as non-violent as presented, probably not even a persistent pest; a PC could slay him easily or even inadvertently plunge him into a great (and debilitating) need to purify himself by grinding his face into the dirt . . . where there happen to be ants he inhales. To me, this seems like sideline distraction material, or the stuff of minor subplots (the quirky supporting cast of a sitcom), not dark, memorable villainhood.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: An undead ruler, of whom we learn a vivid origin, but not enough else.

Concept: A wraith with a magic-drinking magic item inside him that “hungers for life.” I wish I knew enough more about him to even know how to use him as a monster, let alone a recurring villain.

Execution: Minor errors in English and a few too many trips to the well of verbal cliché in the prose, but there are larger problems. We get caught up in the origin tale, but never learn the nature of the “invincible” foe that the magic item was able to defeat, or the precise properties and limiations of the item (which must be known quantities, being as the “best magicians” of Brenno created it after Boemundo gave his consent or order), and what those powers are now. How can they affect opponents in battle, how do they affect Boemundo’s wraith powers (if they do), and what are his motivations? He died, or passed into undeath, defending his city; is that still his guiding ambition? If so, how is he “deployable” against PCs? (Yes, I can think of many ways, but I need adventure hooks that tell me more of what Boemundo has become. If I snatch up a treasure of Brenno, will Boemundo pursue me across the world? Or send agents after me, while he lurks in the city guarding it? Or do nothing but await my return, to destroy me then?)

Tilt: The story interests me in the living Boemundo, and I want to know more about the undead one. Unfortunately, I get nothing but a vivid physical description (that’s lacking some important details; so, this wraith can carry the magic stone along, floating with it, without it falling and shattering? Okay, what about the classic “wraith squirts like smoke through tiny gap” situation? What happens to the stone? If it turns to something like smoke, again, what are the limits to its magic-drinking abilities?)

Overall: Vividly-presented idea that’s not developed.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Another “driven” ruler, but I’m interested, and feel I can use this guy.

Concept: A villain who can come riding right at the PCs, in his endless quest to butcher settlement after settlement, at the head of - - or sending ahead - - plenty of nomad warriors.

Execution: Slightly clunky prose, and a minor design gap (this liquid is “reminiscent” of molten metal? okay, so does it burn through the leather glove of a PC trying to throttle Kardam with one hand whilst beheading him with a sharp blade held in the other? or is it poisonous? magically transforming? something that can be magically detected and traced from afar? can hostile - - or beneficial - - spells be keyed on it? Or does it “twist” [wand of wonder] or deflect incoming magic, giving Kardam great protection? If it’s just an illusion, surely that would have been discovered by now . . .).
I also feel the need to know more about the devil behind this; did he just send Kardam back out into the wider world as a killing machine? Or can he control or at least “steer” Kardam from time to time, or under particular conditions?
The good elements in this writeup are that, several times, it takes an extra step to avoid utter, unadorned cliché (such as leaving the PCs having to convince a disinterested sage – whom they might well view as a dark villain - - to tell them how to “cure” Kardam). The “story” the devil told Kardam about his dripping eye is clever in that it avoids having the nomads merely butcher him to be rid of him, and turns them into his fanatical defenders.

Tilt: The initial adventure hook might hold true in some campaigns, but in a well-developed campaign, it would also lead to the leaders of other khanates doing their utmost to destroy Kardam and his warriors before they became unstoppable. If, as the entry says, he’s already enjoyed “bloody victories” over several settlements, they would quite possibly already be allying with each other to try to defeat him.

Overall: Clearly-presented “driven conqueror” with some design lacking. A weak entry, yet still readily usable and interesting.

Recommendation: (lukewarmly) recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A background “prime mover” villain, head of a semi-secret society.

Concept: The “bringer-of-war” fomenter of conflict and arms supplier to all concerned with war.

Execution: Except for a minor grammar glitch (“It’s” in the fifth adventure hook), the writing is adequate as prose, but there are big design gaps here. On a physical level, the DM needs to know the properties of Veddic’s apparently-supple, mobile black marble body (i.e. what will happen to it when struck by weapons or types of magic), and even how a replacement one is made (being as that’s raised as a past necessity in the writeup). I say “apparently” because the slim possibility still exists, based just on what I read here, that Veddic is a working brain (and talking head) mated to an immobile marble body (the donning of clothes and turning of pages could be done by assistants). On a psychological level, there’s an inherent opposition between study and learning and valuing the collected writings of others and seeking “only to promote conflict and warfare,” which tend to kill scholars, prevent study, and destroy written works. To explain this away, so as to run this NPC as a DM, I need to know Veddic’s thinking and character better (for one thing, so I have the faintest idea of how to roleplay him, when face to face with PCs). And finally, the first paragraph of the entry is fine for general knowledge, but the DM needs to know the truth about Veddic’s origins or at least what HE believes them to be (and bases his world-view on). That’s GOT to be in this entry.

Tilt: I am a fan of arms-dealers as villains, but I’m not a fan of quasi-religious or “I merely divine and follow fate” villains. Which means I’ll buy the latter approach and tone when used as a cover by a pragmatic arms-dealer (it will make me, yes, loathe that villain), but I need to be told it’s a cover, and feel I know what makes Veddic tick. Here, I feel I only know that Veddic IS a tick. I need more about the infusion his body needs (a vital weakness) and the identities and loyalties and capabilities of these guards who’ve rescued him in the past. They know how to build/make a new body for him, yes? Or no? They know where to get the ingredients for this infusion, or even that Veddic needs it, yes? Or no? Gimme some answers here!

Overall: An intriguing foe who awakens my interest, but about whom I lack enough critical design information to use in a campaign, except as a name (so I’ve got a secret society doing things [almost all things that promote conflict] in the name of Veddic . . . and that’s about all). I need more. I need to really see who Veddic is. SHOW me examples of how he’s such a genius, don’t just tell me he is one. (I can tell you I’m really an incredibly beautiful dancing girl, hiding inside the body of a bearded, overweight middle-aged gaming guy, but I wouldn’t expect you to believe that unless I could produce some evidence.) So I got interested . . . and then was left hanging.

Recommendation: sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A deployable, vivid, “love to hate this one” villain.

Concept: Insane but pragmatic, driven by visions local ruler or crazed noble. Nothing very new, but the concept is a well-established one because it works.

Execution: Strongly and clearly described, with vital DMing information (short-term and long-term goals) given right up front. The hooks directly involve PCs.

Tilt: Unpredictable villains can be a pain to DMs and storytellers, not just the players whose characters have to deal with them. This character presents an opportunity for the villain to have not just self-serving visions, but “wider” ones leading him to encourage or cause actions with wider consequences (the reason for this being the last adventure hook given). The vision thing rescues this NPC from being just the “nasty noble” cliché.

Overall: Simple, straightforward, no-key-elements-missed presentation of a solid PC foe who can readily be portrayed in play in such a way as to become a vivid, strongly-loathed villain. Reading the entry inspires me to want to use Count Falconbridge, so the design work is successful.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A gonzo “seems utterly insane” foe.

Concept: An old idea, rarely translated well into RPG terms (villain pursuing an elaborate long-term plan that seems inexplicable, random, or deranged to PCs).

Execution: The writing (as prose style) is just fine, but the content is lacking. To DM this character properly, I need to know the steps and direction of Zavanix’s “inexplicable” plan. “Reasons of his own” is the hooks are just not good enough. To bring him to life onstage, I need more, too (speech, mannerisms, and something specific re. what’s “subtly wrong” about him. Don’t Lovecraft me (“the horror was utterly, overwhelming beyond description”), give me juicy roleplaying tips.

Tilt: This is a useful longterm plot campaign idea, but undeveloped. Who are these “strange and alien realities”? How is working with them/getting closer to them changing (benefiting) Zavanix? The “opening ways between worlds/planes that let in monsters” is a cliché because it’s a good, deployable campaign (or fantasy novel) idea, but is this a byproduct? A deliberate aim? Helps Zavanix or his plan how?

Overall: A concept that desperately needs development. An idea to run with, but I see no running, and am uninspired to do so when reading this, not seeing any “boost” to get me started.

Recommendation: Sorry, but not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Initial Impression: On the bland side.

Concept: More of an opportunistic villain than a "prime mover" for a campaign. As portrayed, I learn nothing of his techniques for taking lives (such as, most importantly, PC lives), only that he wants to live forever by taking the lives of others. Which makes him almost more the trash collector (dangerous to down and wounded PCs, or creatures who stray alone into the wrong place) than an active villain who engages the PCs. If there had been some indication of traps for formidable life sources, or a plan to key on and lure PCs who come near, this could have made Archibald more of a villain and less of a background hazard character.

Execution: Competent writing, but no sizzle (nothing that inspires me as a DM to use this character as a villain), and outward description rather than favored speech, tactics, daily habits, or anything else that I can use as a DM to make this guy "come alive." No hooks, no diabolical (or otherwise!) plans. Sigh.

Tilt: I can always see a use for any character, given a sufficiently detailed setting and enough active subplots on the go, but this writeup doesn't ignite any desire to use Graveleaf. He's an uninteresting Billy Goat Gruff if the PCs wander across his bridge, and a non-factor (as presented) if they don't.

Overall: A one-trick concept that isn't sufficiently developed to make this a lasting or memorable PC foe. We are presented with no ongoing agenda beyond "take that handy life."

Recommendation: Sorry, but not recommended for advancement.