Onuyaka, the All-Seeing Eye


Round 3: Design a villain

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The Exchange

Well done again.

The others are going to have to come up with something special or you get one of my three.

Cheers

Marathon Voter Season 9

Congratulations on winning!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on Onuyaka, and particularly to everyone who voted for him. (Even Matrissa the Enchantress, though now I don’t get to verbally lash her 40 times with a wet noodle! :) )

Now, with voting over, back from holidays with no internet, and my next round’s entry done, there’s finally some time for design notes on Onuyaka, for those that are interested.

First off, the original concept was for a hobgoblin spymaster from Iskandria, the second-in-command of Marshal Nayagar. But there seemed to be a lot of hobgoblin overload last round, and I also wanted to do something different each round, so I went with Ogre Mage.

Okay, the cliché of the “All-Seeing Eye.” I didn’t really think of it as a cliché; it was supposed to be a reference to the Eye of Providence of the Freemasons, as seen at the top of the pyramid on the back of the one-dollar bill, and “All-Seeing Eye” is more fantasy than “Eye of Providence.” I was trying to go for a Masonic/Illuminati vibe, but I guess it got lost beneath the cliché.

I also wanted to tie it in more to Onuyaka himself, but SRD restrictions prevented me from doing so. He was going to be a mutant with a third eye in the center of his forehead that gave him the ability to see invisibility. That’s not in the SRD of course, so I gave him the robe of eyes instead. The third eye would also have contributed to his background: as a mutant, he would be shunned and ridiculed in ogre mage society, but by using his see invisibility he spied on his fellow ogre mages, blackmailed them, and increased his own power in the clan. And of course, with a third eye that sees invisible, he began calling himself the “All-Seeing Eye.” His alternate (non-third eye) history was cut for word count, but you can see it here in rough form:

Spoiler:
Weaker and smaller than his brethren, but possessed of a keen intellect and strong personality, Onuyaka learned the value of observation and information gathering at a young age, and of using them to manipulate others to his own advantage. And with the development of his latent sorcerous powers, he realized that knowledge, not strength, was the road to power. Rather than waste his efforts in futile attempts to seize power from his father and brothers, Onuyaka fled his home to escape the murderous power struggles of his clan. He first found employment as a spy among the giant tribes, and gradually used his espionage abilities, sorcerous powers, and growing number of contacts to increase his own influence among those tribes. As Onuyaka’s sphere of influence grew ever wider, he inevitably came into contact with more settled people. Abandoning the petty squabbles of the savage humanoid and giant tribes, Onuyaka began focusing his attentions solely on “civilized” lands and societies.

SRD restrictions also hurt me for combat and tactics. Several people mentioned his low combat ability, which is a problem for ogre mages: too high of a CR for their abilities and strength. My “every three rounds” tactics was an attempt to address that problem. Mike Mearls did a redesign of the ogre mage on the WotC with some good ideas that are, alas, not SRD. Also, “The Ecology of the Ogre Mage” in Dragon 349 had some interesting variant ogre mages that would have been useful if they were SRD. If you want to put Onuyaka in your campaign, you might want to think about changing him to the Ogre Umbramage from that article, whose abilities fit much better with Onuyaka’s concept.

Addressing some other concerns:

Pallen wrote:
Wolfgang Baur wrote:
I'm not sure I buy the existence of a "map to Onuyaka"
I think that the courier was carrying a map (of some undisclosed location) so that he could deliver it to Onuyaka, not literally a map to Onuyaka. (Although I would really hate to be the guy who drew that map if I'm wrong...)

The map in the Plot Hooks is indeed some sort of random treasure map that Onuyaka wants, NOT a map to Onuyaka himself (that would be silly). I was going to give it a special name, like the Map of Kargash Nuur or something, but without the word count to explain it, I dropped it.

propeliea wrote:

Here was my concern: great encounter and interesting concept, but the concept had no foundation in details. It's one thing to talk about spy networks and being a master manipulator, but it's too open-ended beyond that.

I think the master manipulator is such a fantasy cliche that you have to provide details of the method and agenda to make the villain standout. For me this didn't happen. I'd use the stat block, but I'd be creating everything else to make the NPC work.

One of the problems I had with this round was designing a villain without its context There were lots of posts on another thread about this: could Darth Vader or Voldemort be the villains they are in only 500 words, without the contexts of their settings and stories?

So leaving out specifics (or being too generic, if you prefer) was a conscious design choice on my part. If I had provided more specific details (such as he’s trying to overthrow King Koombaloomba, frame General Floxcomb for the deed, all to start a war with the neighboring Duchy of Eleven, which will increase the value of Onuyaka’s secret holdings in the Really Big Weapons Makers Guild), a DM would have to change all that to fit his or her campaign anyway. By leaving out specifics, and outlining his plans and schemes in broad strokes, I was trying to make him easily adaptable for anyone’s campaign. The same goes for what he does with the knowledge he gathers. That’s going to depend on the specifics of an individual campaign. If I were writing him for a module, there would be context, and more details. As a standalone villain in a vacuum, I left that up to individual DMs.

Word count also forced to remove some specifics, however, such as the relationship between Onuyaka and Jade Monkey, and why she is his cohort, some specific operatives and minions, and details of his various lairs. I also wanted to go into how he gathers information and communicates with his operatives, but in the end I hoped people would see his list of magic items and infer his tactics from those.

Ragwaine wrote:
Notes: Ogre Magi - Sorcerer Rogue. What does "non-associated" mean next to the class levels?
Starglim wrote:
All those non-associated levels look very iffy, especially the sorcerer levels.

Associated or non-associated class levels are used to determine CR when adding class levels to a monster (see SRD). I went back and forth with this, because sorcerer is listed as the favored class for ogre mage characters. But I finally decided on non-associated levels because of the following:

SRD wrote:
A spellcasting class is an associated class for a creature that already has the ability to cast spells as a character of the class in question, since the monster’s levels in the spellcasting class stack with its innate spellcasting ability.

Ogre mages have spell-like abilities, but cannot cast spells normally, and they are giants (“creatures that rely on fighting ability”), which means fighter classes are associated levels for them, but spellcasting and rogue levels are non-associated. Or at least, that was my thinking.

That’s a lot to digest, so thanks if you’ve made it this far. Feel free to ask any other questions or make more comments while we wait for next round’s monsters. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s comments there, too!

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

varianor wrote:
SargonX wrote:
Whether among the highest nobles of the Royal Court or the lowliest members of the Dungsweepers' Guild, no one's secrets are safe, for agents of the All-Seeing Eye prowl in darkened alleyways, glittering ballrooms, and everywhere in between. Always watching, always listening, they employ espionage, blackmail, bribery, intimidation, and even murder to acquire information and influence. And above them all lurks the mysterious All-Seeing Eye himself, gathering intelligence from a hundred different sources and manipulating events for his own inscrutable purpose.

[snip]

The initial paragraph has sentence fragments and a weak opening "whether" that mars some good prose and concepts. Had this started "No one's secrets are safe...." it would have been a stronger start.

[snip]

Thanks for the comments! But I'm curious as to where you see sentence fragments. There's lots of dependent clauses (and some independent clauses), but no actual sentence fragments that I can see (I'm an English teacher, so I'm kind of obsessive about my grammar).

I do agree with the "whether" comment, however. The opening paragraph went through several different drafts, and this version was the only way to say everything I wanted in the word count I allotted to this section.


SargonX wrote:
Thanks to everyone who read and commented on Onuyaka, and particularly to everyone who voted for him. (Even Matrissa the Enchantress, though now I don’t get to verbally lash her 40 times with a wet noodle! :) )

phew

<wipes sweat off brow>

Not that I think I was actually in any danger of getting that lashing... ;-)

Congratulations, by the way on getting all the way to round five. I loved, loved, LOVED the Ooze Imperium - even sent a link to that entry out to one of my more "gonzo" DM's who hasn't been following that closely. RL was, unfortunately, very complicated for me during the voting period for round 4 so I never even reviewed the creature entries until after voting closed - but if I had voted the Oozes were my number one choice. Picking my second and third would have been a bear - I would have had to choose two out of a four way tie between Christine, Jason, Joe and Russell!)

Very much looking forward to your encounter!

;-j(enni)

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