Torquil Wiesel, Ghost of the Stoneburg

Round 3: Design a villain

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4 aka Alexander MacLeod

TORQUIL WIESEL, GHOST OF THE STONEBURG CR 15 [level 13, +2 template]

Male human ghost bard 13
NE Medium undead (augmented humanoid, incorporeal)
Init +5 [+1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative]; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +25, Spot +25


AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 18
(+8 deflection [+8 Cha], +1 Dex)
hp 84 (13d12)
Fort +6 [base +4, +2 Great Fortitude], Ref +9 [base +8, +1 Dex], Will +9 [base +8, +1 Wis]
Defensive Abilities +4 turn resistance, incorporeal traits, undead traits; Resist fire 10


Spd Fly 30 ft.
Melee draining touch +10 [BAB +9, +1 Dex] (1d4 Charisma drain)
Ranged ethereal +2 shortbow +10/+5 [BAB +9, +1 Dex] (1d6+2/×)
Special Attacks malevolence (DC 25 [base DC 15, +2 Ability Focus, +8 Cha]), manifestation
Spells Known (CL 13th):
5th (1/day) - mass suggestion (DC 23 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +5 spell level]), nightmare (DC 23 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +5 spell level])
4th (3/day) - dominate person (DC 22 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +4 spell level]), modify memory (DC 22 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +4 spell level]), speak with plants, summon monster IV
3rd (4/day) - charm monster (DC 21 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +3 spell level]), deep slumber (DC 21 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +3 spell level]), lesser geas (DC 21 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +3 spell level]), scrying (DC 21 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +3 spell level])
2nd (5/day) - animal messenger, detect thoughts (DC 20 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +2 spell level]), mirror image, summon swarm
1st (5/day) - comprehend languages, hideous laughter (DC 19 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +1 spell level]), magic mouth, unseen servant
0 (3/day) - dancing lights, ghost sound (DC 18 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +0 spell level]), know direction, lullaby (DC 18 [base DC 10, +8 Cha, +0 spell level]), mending, prestidigitation


Before Combat While he prefers to use others to do his fighting for him, Torquil will use his malevolence ability to "ride" a living body into combat if he thinks he must. If he has time he will also cast mirror image, summon monster, and animal messenger to send for reinforcements.
During Combat Favoring his enchantments and malevolence ability over a fair fight, Torquil doesn't care who gets hurt in battle, trusting in his rejuvenation ability to see him through. However, he does go out of his way to ensure that he uses only nonlethal attacks against any of his descendants .
Morale Torquil abandons combat only if he believes one of his descendants would be killed if he stays or if he is certain his plans would be discovered too soon.


Str 10, Dex 13, Con ¾, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 26 [base 15, +4 cloak of charisma, +3 level, +4 template]
Base Atk +9; Grp +9
Feats Ability Focus (malevolence), Combat Expertise, Flyby Attack, Great Fortitude, Improved Feint, Improved Initiative [human, 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th]
Skills [{base skill points 6, +1 human, +2 Int} x {level 13 + 3} = 144 skill points] Bluff +24 [16 ranks, +8 Cha], Diplomacy +12 [0 ranks, +8 Cha, +4 synergy]), Disguise +8 [0 ranks, +8 Cha] (+10 acting in character [+2 synergy]), Gather Information +24 [16 ranks, +8 Cha], Hide +25 [16 ranks, +1 Dex, +8 racial], Intimidate +10 [0 ranks, +8 Cha, +2 synergy]), Knowledge (nature) +12 [8 ranks, +2 Int, +2 synergy], Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +10 [8 ranks, +2 Int], Listen +25 [16 ranks, +8 racial, +1 Wis], Perform (oratory) +24 [16 ranks, +8 Cha], Search +26 [16 ranks, +2 Int, +8 racial], Spot +25 [16 ranks, +8 racial, +1 Wis], Survival +9 [8 ranks, +1 Wis] (+11 in aboveground natural environments [+2 synergy])
Languages Common, Giant, Sylvan [+2 Int]
SQ bardic knowledge +15 [+2 Int, +13 level], bardic music 13/day (countersong, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage +2, inspire greatness [2 allies], song of freedom, suggestion [DC 24 {base DC 10, +8 Cha, +6 level}), rejuvenation
Gear +2 shortbow, quiver of 20 arrows (replenished every evening), cloak of charisma +4, glove of storing, ring of minor fire resistance (all of Torquil's gear is ethereal ghostly equipment, though the original material cloak and ring were buried with him)


Draining Touch (Su): Torquil's incorporeal touch attack drains 1d4 points of Charisma from any living target he hits. On each such successful attack, the ghost heals 5 points of damage to itself. Against ethereal opponents, Torquil adds his Strength modifier to attack rolls only. Against nonethereal opponents, he adds his Dexterity modifier to attack rolls only.
Malevolence (Su): Once per round, Torquil can merge his ethereal body with a creature on the Material Plane. This ability is similar to a magic jar spell (caster level 12th), except that it does not require a receptacle. To use this ability, the ghost must be manifested and he must try move into the target’s space; moving into the target’s space to use the malevolence ability does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The target can resist the attack with a successful Will save (DC 25 [base DC 15, +2 Ability Focus, +8 Cha]). A creature that successfully saves is immune to Torquil's malevolence for 24 hours, and the ghost cannot enter the target’s space. If the save fails, the ghost vanishes into the target’s body.
Manifestation (Su): A ghost dwells on the Ethereal Plane and, as an ethereal creature, it cannot affect or be affected by anything in the material world. When a ghost manifests, it partly enters the Material Plane and becomes visible but incorporeal on the Material Plane. A manifested ghost can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons, or spells, with a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source. A manifested ghost can pass through solid objects at will, and its own attacks pass through armor. A manifested ghost always moves silently. A manifested ghost can strike with its touch attack or with a ghost touch weapon. A manifested ghost remains partially on the Ethereal Plane, where is it not incorporeal. A manifested ghost can be attacked by opponents on either the Material Plane or the Ethereal Plane. The ghost’s incorporeality helps protect it from foes on the Material Plane, but not from foes on the Ethereal Plane.
When a spellcasting ghost is not manifested and is on the Ethereal Plane, its spells cannot affect targets on the Material Plane, but they work normally against ethereal targets. When a spellcasting ghost manifests, its spells continue to affect ethereal targets and can affect targets on the Material Plane normally unless the spells rely on touch. A manifested ghost’s touch spells don’t work on nonethereal targets.
A ghost has two home planes, the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane. It is not considered extraplanar when on either of these planes.
Rejuvenation (Su): In most cases, it’s difficult to destroy a ghost through simple combat: The “destroyed” spirit will often restore itself in 2d4 days. Even the most powerful spells are usually only temporary solutions. A ghost that would otherwise be destroyed returns to its old haunts with a successful level check (1d20 + ghost’s HD) against DC 16. The only way to get rid of Torquil's ghost for sure is to see his plans to their successful end or to dig up his bones and burn them in a fire of oak and mistletoe.

"I swear, I have seen the ghost of the Stoneburg! At first, I was scared to death, but when he just grinned at me, winked like a rake, and disappeared, I warmed up to him quite a bit." - A chambermaid in the service of Lord Hermelin

In life, Torquil Weisel loved the finest clothing, the most delicious food, the softest sheets, and the most beautiful women; in undeath, few things have changed. Now translucent and slightly luminescent, Torquil's ghost still appears as a plump but handsome man in his late twenties. He tends to smile quite often, but his smile rarely reaches his piercing, violet eyes. Torquil wears an aristocratic hunter's outfit (that a DC 20 Knowledge [nobility and royalty] check can determine was the height of fashion about a hundred years ago).

"Life is as valueless and common as sand. It is only when a person makes something of their life that they attain value, as when a stained glass window is formed from common sand." - Torquil Wiesel

Until someone proves themselves exceptional in some way to him, Torquil thinks of people in the vague term of the "unwashed masses." He has a condescending sort pity for such people, but is more than willing to throw away their lives to further his goals. Once someone has shown themselves to be of interest or use to him, Torquil will treat that person as an equal - always acting cultured, polite, and interested.

"It is said that the first Baron Hermelin had many children, not all of them by his lady-wife." - From a banned history of the Stoneburg

Torquil was born a bastard child of the first Baron of Stoneburg. Since the name Hermelin means "ermine," upon reaching maturity, Torquil took the surname Weisel (meaning "weasel"). Raised by bards and druids so that he wouldn't pose a threat to his warlord father's holdings, the charming young man quickly gained a reputation as wastrel and a dandy. Few realized that Torquil was planning to overthrow his half-brother before he was mauled to death by a dire bear.

A hundred years later, the current lord has built a new castle over the site of the menhir circle where Torquil's followers buried him. This act, coupled with the baron's mild decrees, unimaginative spending projects, and the fact that Kalter Hermelin recently signed a peace treaty with the barony's traditional enemies across the Feissel Sea has raised both the ire and the spirit of Torquil Weisel.

"I fear I may be going mad. Yesterday, at dinner, I swore my son's eyes turned the brightest violet and he was no longer himself." - Baron Kalter Hermelin

Torquil has three simple desires. Firstly, to foment violence throughout the barony to raise one of his own descendants (preferably a PC) to the status of hero. Second, to marry that descendant into the Hermelin family. And, finally, to kill off the current baron and any other remaining heirs so that the bloodline of Torquil Weisel has no challenger.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: This is a unique NPC. I'm not sure it is truly a villain. A schmarmy dandy ghost isnt my idea of a villain. I'm still distilling how I want to critique the entries for this round, so I dont want to fully comment yet. But this one is not doing it for me. Where is the conflict? Where is the "antagonist for the PCs?" Where is the story potential?

I need to give this more thought, but my gut says I know what a villain is and this isnt it.

I might also add that we asked for three mandatory things in the content of the description:

physical description, motivation(s)/goal(s), and scheme(s)/plot or adventure hook(s).

I guess we got a physical description. I guess in that last sentence we got motivations and goals. I dont think we really got schemes or plots or adventure hooks at all.

Here are his stated desires and goals:

"Torquil has three simple desires. Firstly, to foment violence throughout the barony to raise one of his own descendants (preferably a PC) to the status of hero. Second, to marry that descendant into the Hermelin family. And, finally, to kill off the current baron and any other remaining heirs so that the bloodline of Torquil Weisel has no challenger."

How do any of those have anything immediate to do with the PCs? This guy sounds like he is an antagonist for the Baron. But since the Baron isnt a PC, he is an interesting NPC in a story--but not a villain for the PCs.

This is a big miss.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Word count: 502.

I view this as acceptable. But I'm not sure why everyone else was able to get it right.

The Exchange Kobold Press

I disagree sharply with Clark here; this is clearly a villain, and the design choice to make him a ghost is a good one. Using the rejuvenation ability of ghosts to overcome the classic villain problem of quick death at the PC's hands is, in fact, a very smart, well-considered bit of design.

The three goals that Clark has a problem with are all perfect hooks for the DM to set up any way he wants. It assumes a sandbox DMing style, but since that's my own preference, I appreciate the openness of it. The ghost is going to make trouble, going to plot a wedding, and going to start killing nobles. I can work with that. In fact, that gives me three logical hooks right away: bandit violence, a forced wedding/kidnapping, and dead nobles are all easy to cook up.

Because Torquil is a bard, he can work powerful suggestions to gather minions; his incorporeality is not a barrier to power. Again, smart design choice.

All that is implied rather than stated outright due to the word limit, but your design trusts the DM to run with the logical outcome of your premise. Nice work.

That said, there's things you could improve. Leading with your stat block is a weak way to open the entry: other contestants offered at least a little tease of flavor, or put considerable effort into making readers care about their villain before hitting us with the mechanics. The whole bit about family names seems a little forced, and the use of quotations doesn't seem very efficient in a round with such a highly-restricted wordcount for description/goals/motives.

Recommended for Top 8 on the strength of design choices.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

In many cases I've been harping on contestants for not putting enough information up front, "burying the lead," in journalistic terms. In the case of this submission I think the lead was buried deeply in the last paragraph, which is really the first place that gives useful context that gives me a sense of how to use Torquil in a campaign.

I think he is best used as a sort of shadow-figure for a player character who (known or unknown to the player) has a bloodline tie to the ruling family of Stoneburg and thus might serve as Torquil's catspaws.

I'd have liked that information considerably earlier than the end of the submission, so I admit to a certain crankiness about this one that it may not deserve.

There's a lot of history and background here and not enough on how to use the villain in a campaign. Further, the villain itself is fairly straightforward and not all that creative.

I do not recommend this one for advancement.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Wolf, surely _some_ of the 500 words could have been used to provide suggestions on how to use this guy in the campaign. Just as customers buy pre-packaged modules to have the stat blocks done for them, I think they also expect the designer to help them make a better campaign. If all the design is super-subtle and must be assumed from the stat block rather than the half-thousand word text section, what's the point of the text section? Is it just for history and a bit of pretty writing?

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Villain Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, design choices, playability?): C
The Good: I like ghosts, and a ghost bard seems neat. Good synergy of powers.
The Bad: I just don’t think this schmarmy bard ghost is a villain, as detailed. I respect WB’s comments, but none of the stated goals of the “villain” have much at all to do with the PCs. Our definition of a villain includes that he has to be an antagonist of the PCs, not just a monster out causing trouble. I don’t see that here. I understand DM flexibility, but the goal here is to show us what you can design, not what spaces you can leave for me to design for you.

Stat Block Execution (proper content, proper format, good math, generally mistake free?, not abusing word count?): B
The Good: Competent.
The Bad: The tactics are underwhelming, but I do like that the morale part is well tied to the theme of the creature.

Description (quality of writing, hook?, theme?, organization, contains all mandatory content—physical description, motivation/goal, scheme/plot?): C+
The Good: Good background details.
The Bad: Too much background, not enough plot hooks that are immediate and that affect the PCs. Even if you accept this is a villain and disagree with me, I think it must be conceded that the details are sorely lacking here. Barely met the mandatory content. Big mistake not front loading some of the content and waiting to put the text after the stat block.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting?): B
The Good: Strangely, I like this guy despite his lack of “villain-ness.”.
The Bad: But I just can’t like him too much when he is not an opponent for the PCs.

Overall: C+/B-
An interesting ghost who is more of a pest to the local baron than a villain for the PCs.

Alexander, your prior submissions have been good though perhaps not world beaters. I think this submission misses the mark in large part because it fails to involve the PCs in direct conflict. This is a sideline monster, not a main villain in my view. I don’t know if your prior submissions have been strong enough to convince the public to let you keep going. I have a funny feeling you might get some popular support, since Torquil is interesting.


RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 8 aka unfettered

This is the first villain entry I've read and you lost me about half way through the description. I had the strong feeling you designed an NPC and not a villain. Lucky for you, I decided to skip to the last paragraph to see if you saved yourself and you did.

Like Erik, I would have liked to see that last paragraph (by far the most compelling of the entire entry) much earlier. I think you will lose votes on that alone.

Overall though, a ghost manipulating events in the background to make a PC a hero is an interesting villain. I also like the idea of a ghost bard.

It's compelling, but I have 15 more to read before I know if it gets my vote.

I so wanted to like this one! I just got caught up on formatting issues (statblock at the front, quotations after every paragraph in the description) and the lack of any real meaty hook to connect the pcs. I may be voting for this on the strength of previous entries, but I doubt it.

El Skootro

The Exchange Kobold Press

Erik Mona wrote:
Wolf, surely _some_ of the 500 words could have been used to provide suggestions on how to use this guy in the campaign. Just as customers buy pre-packaged modules to have the stat blocks done for them, I think they also expect the designer to help them make a better campaign. If all the design is super-subtle and must be assumed from the stat block rather than the half-thousand word text section, what's the point of the text section? Is it just for history and a bit of pretty writing?

Yeah, well, sometimes the obvious uses for a villain may not be entirely obvious. I think the buried lead here is a big mistake, but I think there are some smart choices as well.

Perhaps I give too much credit for subtlety here. But I think that as a villain concept, he's onto something. The execution may still prove too weak for the contestant to advance; that's up to the voters. I'm actually very curious about this round, to see whether votes go to mechanically-interesting villains or to campaign-viable villains. My problem as a judge is that there's only a few entries that do both well.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

If only....

I really like the design and concept of Torquil. However, like Erik, I think that his use as a villain should have been stated somewhat earlier than the last paragraph. It would have grabbed me more and perhaps characterized Torquil better as a villain up front rather than 'implied'.

This is the first entry that I've read, so I cannot say how it stacks up. However, he would be fun to use.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

And he's even a bard!

Liberty's Edge

Would have liked to see something “descriptive” or “flavourful” up front. I liked the quotes, but would have liked to see more word count on goals and adventure hooks.

This is a villain – or can be if used the right way. I’ve actually used a very similar villain (origin, goal and motivation-wise) to this in one of my own campaigns (in my case a vampire swashbuckler – I like your idea better) to excellent effect. There is a lot of potential in this villain, but you perhaps should have “held the DM’s hand” a little bit more in presenting it.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

To me, the difference between an NPC and a villain is if he gives the PCs a reason to fear or hate him. I think this guy is very blah, except perhaps in a campaign centered on Torquil as the only real bad guy. His motivations aren't far reaching. He's CR15, but he only wants to eliminate competition for his family line?

What's your CR15 party interested in? Stopping Acererak from becoming one with the Negative Material plane? Preventing the return of Iuz? Forcing a civil war so their third faction can emerge as the new government? I don't feel Torquil's motivations are fit for his CR.

I agree with Wolf that there is a lot of subtle evil that can be used as adventure material. Unfortunately, I don't think your texts demonstrates this subtlety, I think Wolf is bringing these elements to life, and not discovering the secret gems you put into place. If you tell me I am wrong about that, I'll believe you and give you more credit. I am not trying to be mean, but you might recall I was disappointed lastround that I felt for many countries I had to think of all the adventures. In this round, I feel you have again not given me the juicy DM secrets that would make your entry stand out.

Congratulations on making the top 16. That is an awesome accomplishment, especially as this will be the hardest superstar. The rest of us are learning as we watch each of you.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

My first impression is this was not a villain but 'local flavor' with stats. The more I thought about it however the more I came to see this ghost bard as something that COULD be a villain in the right hands.

The scope of the character is what saves him in my estimation. It is affecting an entire barony. In the right hands Torquil could be either akin to 'Uncle Arthur' from 'Bewitched' or a ghostly Machiavelli. This kind of potential is what makes me want to classify him as a villain.

I do agree though that leading with the stat block was not the best of decisions and you 'buried the lead' as has been said. As has been said in this competition you have to hook your reader in the first 100 words or you won't get them at all. I ran afoul of this myself.

I like him but I'm on the fence about whether or not I can classify him as a true villain. I need to read some more villains before I can come to a decision.

Scarab Sages

I liked this guy overall, but I'm not sure I'd call him a villain. He's definitely not a "good guy." But I don't know if PC's would have a good reason for hunting him down and killing him. I was also a little confused on the spelling of his name. Is it Torquil Wiesel or Torquil Weisel?

I really enjoyed the quotations; they added good flavor to the entry. I'd like to see this guy in an adventure, but again, he doesn't seem threatening enough to be a villain. This is only the first entry I've read, so I'm sure I'll revisit it.

Good luck to you.

I really wasn't a huge fan. I don't particularly love 3rd edition ghosts in the first place, and Torquil Wiesel really didn't convert me. Now I don't want to brooch the whole bad-guy/villain thing. I don't even want to touch it. The problem here is that I have a hard time seeing this guy as even much of a bad-guy let alone a villain. His ideas just aren't that bad. He wants to see one of his guys on the throne, and doesn't give a fig about anyone unless they prove themselves, but is thereafter a gallant host and loyal friend. He feels like nobility, and not even bad nobility, just nobility.

I kept getting the idea of this guy as one of the Hogwarts' ghosts, swooshing through the dining hall to swish his sword around or gripe about how he hadn't been allowed to participate in the Headless Hunt.

Now most of this would be alright, if I could at least get behind the character and really love him. I don't though. He's a bit of a fop and a curmudgeonly old windbag--stuff I normally like, but here I find it just a bit lackluster. I dunno. Not a fan.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16, 2010 Top 4 aka Alexander MacLeod

Mothman wrote:
Would have liked to see something “descriptive” or “flavourful” up front.

I originally had hooky stuff at the top, but got rid of all of that when I thought I needed to follow the outline from the rules to the letter. Now I'm kind of wishing I haden't.

I had to hack out quite a bit from my original brainstorming for this fellow, even though he was based on the best villain I ever ran in BIRTHRIGHT. It's looking like I hacked too much of the wrong things, but you never know... maybe my fans will pull me out of the fire?

A. MacLeod

My quick thoughts:
-1 for not really having much hook for a PC
+1 for the "Fallen" factor

More in depth - this would be a good villain for a campaign where the PCs are all part of the Barony, related, et cetera. I think a lot of people are looking at it more like "if some random PCs roll through town why would they give a crap" in which case yeah,they probably wouldn't. I don't mind some more subtle evils around. And he is evil; I disagree with the "well, that's just nobles" concept - it's evil actions, just because there's a lot of other evil nobles out there doesn't change much (power corrupts). I personally don't mind a villain with goals other than TAKE OVER/DESTROY THE WORLD MMWAH HAH HAAA.

I agree with those who say he doesn't feel 'villainy' enough... in fact I can see him easily becoming more of an ally to the PCs than a foe if they lean towards the chaotic side of things.

A ghostly bard would surely win over a very heavy RP pal of mine, but there just isn't enough fight in him to interest me. Feels like he'd be much more at home in a Blue Rose campaign than D&D.

It’s a dead bard. That’s pretty much how most bards end up. This one just hasn’t figured it out yet.

It's very well written; it just doesn't leap out and yell, "Boo!"

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka Darkjoy

I do see potential with this NPC but I am not sure if there is enough 'Villain' with the current write up. Furthermore I would have identified 1 or 2 possible descendants.

Not sure at this time, but you are the first one I've read.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka exile

My first two votes were pretty easy to place. Three and four have been on hold until I read a few more entries. I'm pleased to say that this entry has nabbed one of them. It just appeals to me. I think criticisms that there just aren't enough ways to use him are unfounded, and Wolfgang has already offered some suggestions as to how he could be used. The villain is interesting in that he occupies a real moral gray area for the PCs. He can be used to force difficult choices on them and there is little I like more as a DM than forcing those choices on the PCs (and having predetermined consequences for whichever road they take).


Awww, a ghost bard :)

Interesting character, someone I really could do damage with in a long run...plans and goals were left half-baked but openness can eb a good thing too...
CR 15 is not low, but then again, the characters will first run into his machinations on level 6-8 (acceptable) and really encounter him on 11-12 so that's ok.

Have only read a portion of entries so far but this has an edge to get my vote (even if I didn't care that much for your previous entries).

I *wanted* a goblin king on a pahse spider mount.

But this isn't *bad*, it just doesn't grab me. still, a lot of the entries aren't grabbing me. This might squeek in, I don't know yet.

I might sggest that furture contests specifically be designed to build on each entry. have contestents make a item, then the homeland it's from, then the villain who has it in his trove, and so on.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

mwbeeler wrote:
It’s a dead bard. That’s pretty much how most bards end up. This one just hasn’t figured it out yet.

Hah! And I just watched The Crow, too!!

(having just realized that Eric Draven is a dead bard is awesome)

A ghost bard. Different. I like the idea itself. That said, once I got through all the stat block materials, I was underwhelmed. I'm not sure how villainous this NPC is in the context of D&D, where dead rapacious lords are a dime a dozen. It seemed like the background took so long that we didn't get to the good stuff early enough. This would make a decent piece for one of those small side encounters in Dungeon, but the ghost himself seems more a foil for political backdrops than for PCs. This will not make it onto my list to review a second time before deciding on my final vote.

Dark Archive

My group would *so* end up calling this guy 'Torqued Weasel.'

No, I don't have anything useful to contribute. I'll sit down now...

Sovereign Court

Once more into the PRO/CON breach.


Well, he's not a slavering monstrous evil. That's nice in a villain. This is really as close to the "Not Evil But Still A Villain" archetype everyone was clamoring for before these entries were posted as I've seen yet.


I didn't read this at first because, well, ghost. Been there, done that. He probably doesn't like his descendents or something. And then I read it, and... got exactly that.

I... wow. Only one pro and one con. I think this sums up where I'm at with this entry. It just sort of sits there. There's nothing wrong with it, but there's nothing spectacular either. If this were a "RPG Solid Writer" contest, this would be my top vote, but... sorry.

Grand Lodge

I'm going to check out wether I can use a villain or not and wether I like em. I won't be checking stat blocks for errors and stuff, I simply don't have the time or the expertise. This is the first of my reviews after doing a quick quick scan of them all.

CR 15, okay something to work with and use later in a campaign, but maybe usefull as a background villain.

The use of quotes between descriptive text is something I like and appreciate. The goals are easy to see, although I don't really know why this desire would raise him from the dead and turn him into a ghost, could be my lack of knowledge.

Overall its well-written and will deserve a second looking once I've finished them all.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

I take more of a sandbox approach to gaming materials myself, so I don't necessarily think the lack of clear plot hooks is a bad thing. However, that lack, combined with the "buried lead", made it hard for me to see how to use Torquil at all. I actually get the sense that he'd be a better ally than a villian.

As an amateur linguist, I appreciate the details on the names, but I'm not sure that really helped the entry. Would that detail ever come up in play? Probably not. But if you could've handled in such a way that it would... you'd have an instant vote from me.

Similarly, I love seeing, and using, quotes in gaming material. I think they can give a great sense of the character with very few words, and your quotes are pretty good. But I think you may have gone overboard here: 4 quotes in 500 words is a bit much.

On organization: I feel ya, buddy. I made the same mistake in Round 2, sticking too close to the given format instead of following my gut. I think it cost me some votes, and I'm afraid that it will cost you some as well.

As soon as I saw the name, I thought of Elie Weisel, and I couldn't get that out of my head. Was I the only one who made that association?

Liberty's Edge

Set wrote:

No, I don't have anything useful to contribute. I'll sit down now...

That was really funny. I'm not sure why, buy it made me chuckle out loud ...

Apparently I don't have anything much useful to contribute either, so ...

I love the idea, but his CR doesn't match up with the kind of adventures I'd have a 15th level party handling. He's pulling a lot of strings from behind the scenes, but that means a DM has to create a LOT of plot that doesn't put he and the PCs face to face very often.

I'm on the fence: do I vote for an idea I can work with, or vote on the basis of a ready-to-go villian that is the whole package- story, coolness, hooks and all.

I think I just answered my own question.

Hate to have this as my first post, but the traditional phrase is "bury the lede", not "lead". Lead makes more sense when you think about it, but it's a modern construction (like "wreckless" driving, hehehe).

As I see it, the biggest complaint by far is the organization presented. This is only round three: if the design is solid, I think this should advance. The rest of the field at this level I've mostly had mixed reactions about, but Torquil is just fun. He has possibilities, potential, he's not a one shot, and his character has depth. After sleeping on it, I like this guy. I definitely like him more than half of the other villains presented.

Notes to self: Ghost bard. Very cool npc. Very Ravenloft name wise. Don't like the "built on indian burial ground thing". Not very villain-y. Not sure I understand the link between him and his descendants. Didn't like fluffy quotes.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Name and title: "Weasel" was my immediate impression but it fits him reasonably well. I questioned how villainous a ghost could be, but it might work.

Some missed bits in the stat block. I'll assume that CON 3/4 is a transposed formatting character. The author still should have looked at it.

Good to see that the author has used fairly modest NPC stats and has given an explanation for the villain's high stat.

Tactics are suspiciously chatty and, worse, vague, but not across the line.

Special abilities copy some text from the SRD that really could use rewriting. Where the author has made innovations, though, he's made mistakes, such as non-standard punctuation and missed words.

The rejuvenation entry is surely the most interesting part of a ghost's stat block. This one has vague and flabby writing that doesn't tell me much at all.

The author has a stat block and 500 words to present a thrilling concept and win my vote. Everything should contribute to that goal and hang together. Why does he use a shortbow? What's that business about oak and mistletoe? They're not explained here or ever and are wasted opportunities. This is the standard I'd apply to a published adventure, too.

I would be annoyed to see the expression "acting cultured and polite" in a published adventure. There are more words missing from the descriptive text. The quotes are limp and unconvincing.

So much for technique. The concept and its presentation are my largest problems with this. It's very peculiar to see a villain whose main evil deeds seem to be winking at scullery maids and helping the PCs to succeed. There are all sorts of hints of his druidic and woodsy character that are never brought together - it's not my job as reader or DM to dig for hours for the author's ideas. CR is absurdly too high for the character's role and how he supposedly died. I would use this character at about CR 9. Come to that, if he died in the deep woods on a hunt, why is he haunting the lord's castle and obsessing about bloodlines?

This is barely a villain, flawed in outline, badly written and poorly integrated. Not voting for this.

Sovereign Court

Borderline for me. I liked the idea, not the execution. It sort of helps to have a PC as a descendant. So I guess he sowed some wild oats? It sort of ropes a PC into a role they may not want.

The baron builds a castle on top of his grave? Puh-lease. A little farfetched.

Maybe Torquil shouldn't have brought his gee-tar on a dungeon crawl.

Marathon Voter Season 9

Wow! That's got my vote!

As a player the only thing I hate more than knowing I'm dealing with a ghost, lich or vampire as a BBEG is when the party hasn't learned it yet because they can pack such a punch. Very nice ghost concept Torquil gets one of my votes. Interesting plausible background.

Its only fair to middland to me. The concept is nice but I don't know if I would look at this Npc as a full blown villian.

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