Abzirael Ul-Shadai, the Cackling Whirling


Round 3: Design a villain

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Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Clark Peterson wrote:


Boomer, you gotta check out that series of modules. They are, IMHO, the start of more modern adventure design.

Consider it done!

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Abzirael Ul-Shadai, Director's Cut:

If you'll allow me a small self-indulgence, I feel that the following edit fixes the majority of the concerns shared with me about the stat-block by players, friends and readers.

He should be considered the "errata" version.

Spoiler:

Abzirael Ul-Shadai, the Cackling Whirlwind CR 16 [CR 5 Djinn, +7 (6 Outsider HD, 8 non-associated class levels w/ free Elite Stat Set), +3 Half-Fiend, +1 size increase]

Designer's Note: the class "Electrokineticist" is identical to the Pyrokineticist class found here, save that the energy type "fire" has been replaced entirely with the energy type "electricity". All rules contained in the class, and thus needed to use this NPC, are included - DMs may copy and use this stat-block as is, without need of reference to the XPH. If desired, the Ul-Shadai can be treated as unique form of arcane caster - simply treat his Wild Talent feat as a necessary "speed-bump" to his Electrokineticist powers and replace the term 'psi-like abilities' with 'spell-like abilities'.

Designer's Note Part 2: the Ul-Shadai is presented here as a recent escape of his unmarked tomb, sapped of strength after dozens of millennia of confinement without sustenance or stimulation of any kind. In the event that a DM wishes to use a more advanced, higher CR version of the Cackling Whirlwind, the Ul-Shadai can be presumed to feast on the flesh of the new world, rapidly regaining his ancient strength and potency - Abzirael may be advanced to 21 HD of Outsider without changing his size; add 8 to his HD and 4 to his CR.

Male Half-Fiend Advanced Djinni Electrokineticist 5 / Rogue 3
CE Huge Outsider (Air, Extraplanar)
Init +11 [+7 Dex., +4 Improved Initiative];
Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +23, Spot +23

DEFENSE

AC 32, touch 19, flat-footed 25
(+4 armor, +4 deflection (from unholy aura[/i)], +7 Dex, +9 natural [+3 Djinn, +3 Size Increase, +1 Half-Fiend, +2 magic], -2 size)
hp 231 (13d8+84 from Outsider), (5d8+35 from Electrokineticist), (3d6+21 from Rogue)
Fort +24 (including+4 from [i]unholy aura
) [+8 Djinn, +4 Electrokineticist, +1 Rogue, +7 Con],
Ref +26 (including +4 from unholy aura) [+8 Djinn, +4 Electrokineticist, +3 Rogue, +7 Dex],
Will +15 (including +4 from unholy aura), [+8 Djinn, +1 Electrokineticist, +1 Rogue, +1 Wis.];
Note: Abzirael receives an additional +4 bonus on all saving throws against all electricity spells and effects.
Defensive Abilities: Evasion (Ex), Nimbus (Ps) (see Special Qualities), empowered unholy aura: blocks possession and mental influence, just as protection from good does; secondarily, if a good creature succeeds on a melee attack against Abzirael, the offending attacker takes (1d6+half) points of temporary Strength damage (Fortitude save DC 23 negates); DR 10/magic; Immune acid, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR 30

OFFENSE

Spd 20 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee 2 slams +29 each [+18 BAB, +13 Str, -2 size] (3d6+13) (+2d6 electricity for one slam) (+2d6 sneak attack, if applicable)
and bite +27 [+18 BAB, +13 Str, -2 size, -2 secondary attack] (2d6+6)
Ranged (60ft.) stroke of lightning +23 touch [+18 BAB, +7 Dex, -2 size] (5d6 electricity) (+2d6 sneak attack, if applicable)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks:

Air Mastery (Ex)
Airborne creatures take a -1 penalty on attack and damage rolls against Abzirael.

Hand of Storms (Ps)
Abzirael can activate this ability as a move-equivalent action. Lightning engulfs one of his hands (but does him no harm). Such attacks deal an extra 2d6 points of electricity damage.

Nimbus (Ps):
Once per day, as a move-equivalent action, Abzirael may cause lightning that harms neither him nor his equipment to engulf his entire body. While he is so shrouded, his Charisma score increases by 4 (causing the DC of all his spell-like abilities to increase by 2) and he can make melee touch attacks for 2d6 points of electricity damage. If he is struck in melee, the attacker takes 2d6 points of electricity damage. This ability lasts for up to 5 minutes.

Smite Good (Su)
Once per day, Abzirael can make a normal melee attack to deal extra damage equal to his HD (+20) against a good foe.

Stroke of Lightning (Ps)
Abzirael can launch a bolt of psionically manifested lightning at any target in line of sight within 60 feet. This effect is treated as a ranged touch attack and deals 5d6 points of electricity damage.

Whirlwind (Su)
Abzirael can transform himself into a whirlwind once every 10 minutes and remain in that form for up to 7 rounds. In this form, he can move through the air or along a surface at his fly speed (60 ft., perfect maneuverability).

The whirlwind is 5 feet wide at the base, up to 30 feet wide at the top and up to 50 feet tall. Abzirael controls the exact height, but it must be at least 10 feet.

Abzirael's movement while in whirlwind form does not provoke attacks of opportunity, even if he enters the space another creature occupies. Another creature might be caught in the whirlwind if it touches or enters the whirlwind, or if Abzirael moves into or through the creature’s space.

Creatures of Large size or smaller might take damage when caught in the whirlwind and be lifted into the air. An affected creature must succeed on a DC 31 Reflex save when it comes into contact with the whirlwind or take 3d6 points of damage. It must also succeed on a second DC 31 Reflex save or be picked up bodily and held suspended in the powerful winds, automatically taking 1d8 points of damage each round. A creature with a fly speed is allowed a DC 31 Reflex save each round to escape the whirlwind. The creature still takes damage but can leave if the save is successful. The save DC is Strength-based and includes both a +3 racial adjustment and Ability Focus.

Creatures trapped in the whirlwind cannot move except to go where Abzirael carries them or to escape the whirlwind. Creatures caught in the whirlwind can otherwise act normally, but must make a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) to cast a spell. Creatures caught in the whirlwind take a -4 penalty to Dexterity and a -2 penalty on attack rolls. Abzirael can have only as many creatures trapped inside a whirlwind at one time as will fit inside the whirlwind’s volume.

Abzirael can eject any carried creatures whenever he wishes, depositing them wherever the whirlwind happens to be.

If the whirlwind’s base touches the ground, it creates a swirling cloud of debris. This cloud is centered on Abzirael and has a diameter equal to half the whirlwind’s height. The cloud obscures all vision, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. Creatures 5 feet away have concealment, while those farther away have total concealment.

Those caught in the cloud must succeed on a Concentration check (DC 15 + spell level) to cast a spell.

While in whirlwind form, Abzirael cannot make melee attacks - though ranged attacks and spell-like abilities are allowed - and does not threaten the area around him.

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th), [DCs= 10+spell level + Cha. mod. (+5)]:
At will—invisibility (self only), plane shift (CL 13th)
3/day—darkness, poison (DC 19), quickened invisibility (self only), unholy aura (DC 23)
1/day—blasphemy, (DC 22), contagion (DC 18), create food and water, create wine (as create water, but wine instead), desecrate, destruction (DC 22), horrid wilting (DC 23), major creation (created vegetable matter is permanent), persistent image (DC 20), summon monster IX (fiends only), unhallow, unholy blight (DC 19), wind walk. Once per day, Abzirael can assume gaseous form (as the spell) for up to 1 hour.

TACTICS

Before Combat: If possible, Abzirael first engages in parlay while using invisibility and in gaseous form, employing persistent image to create a suitable representative or decoy. If surprised, he immediately casts empowered unholy aura, quickened invisibility, and activates hand of storms as a move-equivalent action.
During Combat: Once battle is joined, Abzirael commonly power attacks for as much as possible - preferably from invisibility, so as to gain both bonuses to hit and sneak attack damage for his first, lightning-wreathed slam attack - against the closest target each round, taking no more than a five foot step so as to retain a full attack. He uses quickened invisibility after his attacks each round until his uses are expended, then switches to whirlwind form, employing offensive spell-like abilities and stroke of lightning at range while using nimbus to prevent melee attacks against him and to increase the save DCs of these effects.
Morale: If reduced to 50 hit points or less, Abzirael flees using wind walk, commonly summoning 1d3 vrocks to cover his retreat.
Base Statistics As noted above, without empowered unholy aura active Abzirael's deflection bones to AC and his saves are reduced by 4 - similarly, melee attackers no longer suffer strength drain for assaulting him. If the effect is dispelled during combat, Abzirael will immediately attempt to recast the spell.

STATISTICS

Str 36 [15 base from Elite Stat Set, +1 Hit Dice dependent ability score increase, +8 Djinn, +4 Half-Fiend, +8 size increase],
Dex 24 [13 base from Elite Stat Set, +1 Hit Dice dependent ability score increase, +8 Djinn, +4 Half-Fiend, -2 size increase],
Con 24 [12 base from Elite Stat Set, +2 Hit Dice dependent ability score increase, +4 Djinn, +2 Half-Fiend, +4 size increase],
Int 18, [10 base from Elite Stat Set, +4 Djinn, +4 Half-Fiend],
Wis 13, [8 base from Elite Stat Set, +1 Hit Dice dependent ability score increase, +4 Djinn],
Cha 20 [14 base from Elite Stat Set, +4 Djinn, +2 Half-Fiend]

Base Atk +18 [+13 Outsider Hit Dice, +3 electrokineticist levels, +2 Rogue levels]; Grp +39 [+18 BAB, +13 Str, +8 size]
Feats Ability Focus (whirlwind), Empower Spell-like Ability (unholy aura), Improved Natural Attack (slam), Improved Initiative (B), Multiattack, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-like Ability (invisibility), Wild Talent

Skills
Appraise +20 (+22 with alchemical items) [16 ranks Outsider, +4 Int.], Balance +9 [+7 Dex., +2 synergy], Concentration +30 [15 ranks Outsider, 8 ranks Electrokineticist, +7 Con.], Craft (Alchemy) +28 [16 ranks Outsider, 8 ranks Electrokineticist, +4 Int.], Diplomacy +28 [15 ranks Outsider, 6 ranks Rogue, +5 Cha., +2 synergy], Escape Artist +28 (+30 when escaping from rope bonds) [15 ranks Outsider, 6 ranks Rogue, +7 Dex.], Hide -1 (+39 when invisible and immobile, +19 when invisible and moving) [+7 Dex., -8 size modifier], Intimidate +13 [8 ranks Electrokineticist, +5 Cha.], Jump +15 [+13 Str., +2 synergy], Knowledge (Psionics) +20 [16 ranks Outsider, +4 Int.], Listen +23 [16 ranks Outsider, 6 ranks Rogue, +1 Wis.], Move Silently +22 [15 ranks Outsider, +7 Dex.], Psicraft +14 [8 ranks electrokineticist, +4 Int., +2 synergy], Sense Motive +25 [15 ranks Outsider, 3 ranks cross-class electrokineticist, 5 ranks Rogue, +1 Wis.], Spellcraft +19 [15 ranks Outsider, +4 Int.], Spot +23 [16 ranks Outsider, 6 ranks Rogue, +1 Wis.], Tumble +13 [6 ranks Rogue, +7 Dex.], Use Rope +22 (+24 with bindings) [15 ranks Outsider, +7 Dex.]

Languages Abyssal, Auran, Celestial, Common, Ignan; telepathy 100 ft.
SQ add all special qualities here, listed alphabetically: Evasion, plane shift, telepathy 100 ft., Trap Sense
Combat Gear bracers of armor +4, amulet of natural armor +2
Other Gear Abzirael carries no other treasure of his own, although he may commonly be found in possession of any number of expensive, valuable or unique items that he has secured for others, en route to delivery.
NOTE: Abzirael will equip other magical items if he finds use for them - if his CR is increased, adjust his treasure accordingly.

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Abzirael's natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Evasion (Ex)
Abzirael can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if he is wearing light armor or no armor. If helpless, he does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Lightning Adaptation (Ex)
Abzirael possesses a +4 bonus on all saving throws against electricity spells and effects.

Trap Sense (Ex)
Abzirael possesses an intuitive sense that alerts him to danger from traps, giving him a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps.

Though he has the Rogue ability of Trapfinding, Abzirael possesses neither the skills nor the patience to implement it successfully; similarly, he does not use the Electrokineticist ability Storm Lash, finding other uses of psionically manifested electricity more directly efficient.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

And, plainly, I still mucked up some of my BBCode tags & left out the word empowered before unholy aura under 3/day spell-like abilities.

Sigh. If nothing else, this contest has given me even GREATER respect for editors. To all of the people slugging away in the mire of badly constructed text, this one's for YOU!

*raises a glass of nog*

Regardless, I am pleased that I built a competitive CR:16 creature using only the SRD, complete with flavor and a few exciting uses in any campaign.

I thank each and every one of the voters, the judges and all those who took the time to comment on Abzirael for making this contest so wonderful.

Viva Paizo!

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Adapting the Ul-Shadai to Your Campaign

I intended for Abzirael to act, at lower levels, as a sort of "meta-villain"; that is, he exists primarliy to make other villains more dangerous - as well as more villainous.

If the campaign features a mildly-evil antagonist, be they a spellcaster or war-leader, including anything from the desperate Lizardfolk Ranger to the aristocratic Halfling Wizard to the conniving Tiefling leader of a Thief's Guild, the arrival of the Ul-Shadai provides a sudden boost in power to such an opponent, allowing them to suddenly outpace PCs who would otherwise soon level-up past the abilites of the NPC to handle.

An NPC's (or PC's!) use of the Ul-Shadai in this way is plainly an evil act, which means that neutrally-aligned antagonists will, more than likely, soon become more villainous and despotic - and perfect for higher-level play as they acquire treasure, servants and power previously undreamt-of. During these levels, it is likely that Abzirael is as much a "force" as he is an "opponent" - a savage whirlwind of strange lightning appears, rips a castle to shards of blistered stone in a wicked storm of laughter and destruction, and just as suddenly departs, the King dead . . . and his crown missing.

Similarly, the Ul-Shadai is unique in that unlike many villains, he has no "base of operations" - he need neither sleep, nor eat, nor even breathe, and he is gifted with the ability to literally go wherever he wants, via plane shift, flight, invisibility, gaseous form, wind walk and his absurd strength. A group of PCs wishing to "hunt" Abzirael would find such a task all but impossible . . . without a plot-device provided by the DM, of course.

I mean, the Storm-Scholar and his apprentices had to have caught the guy SOMEHOW, right?

In the end, the Ul-Shadai is gathering an army - guilds of assassins, bands of monsterous humanoids, legions of knights, entire schools of wizards, even fallen churches - via the simplest method he knows how, all to aid in his eventual rise to unlimited power. What is Abzirael's ultimate goal? Presumably, world-domination (or whatever the DM decides) . . . but he is an immortal, with plenty of time on his hands - to those ends, he will seek out artifacts, slay powerful NPCs, raise sunken cities from the deep, and otherwise provide dozens of plothooks for the PCs to follow.

Although the Ul-Shadai posesses a definite "Arabian Nights" feel, he can be presented in a standard D&D game (or even a d20 modern game!) without need of much adaptation - if he is the only "genie" in the campaign, so much the better, as his unfathomable age and alien origins explain away any thematic disconnect from the current setting.

Design Options Outside the SRD

Once the game leaves the Book and hits the Table-Top, adaptation of any NPC to the specific DM, players and campaign becomes an absolute necessity.

As such, some DMs might wish to pursue additional "after-market modifications" to the Ul-Shadai, cracking open non-SRD material such as the "Complete" books, WotC "splat-books", homebrew rules or 3rd-party content. Three particular options, with design commentary, are as folows:

Half-Farspawn (presented in Lords of Madness) in lieu of Half-Fiend: this build capitalizes on the bizarre origins of the Ul-Shadai, possibly presenting him as a monster predating humanity's current understanding of the Outer Planes. Unfortunately, a Half-Farspawn loses the ability to cast unholy aura, but gains a number of other odd and terrifying powers - most beneficially, his CR remains unchanged while arguably becoming more dangerous to PCs.

Ninja (presented in Complete Adventurer) levels in lieu of Rogue: this build negates the need for the feat Quicken Spell-Like Ability: Invisibility and grants the Ul-Shadai a number of other tricks to replace his little-used trap-related abilities. However, it puts off Evasion until higher levels and grants a number of mechanically-complex abilities likely to go equally unused by Abzirael.

Warlock (presented in Complete Arcane levels in lieu of Pyrokineticist/Electrokineticist: this build allows for the replacement of the feat Wild Talent with another, more useful feat (examples just from the SRD include Awesome Blow, Improved Grapple or Weapon Focus: Bite) and gives the Ul-Shadai a more "demonic" aspect, turning his DR into something more befitting a creature of the Abyss. Unfortunately, damage from Eldritch Blast does not build at the +1d6/level rate that Pyro/Electro does, and the secondary abilities of the class aid him him little, if at all.

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

thatboomerkid wrote:

Abzirael Ul-Shadai, Director's Cut:

If you'll allow me a small self-indulgence, I feel that the following edit fixes the majority of the concerns shared with me about the stat-block by players, friends and readers.

He should be considered the "errata" version.

[spoiler]

Abzirael Ul-Shadai, the Cackling Whirlwind CR 16 [CR 5 Djinn, +7 (6 Outsider HD, 8 non-associated class levels w/ free Elite Stat Set), +3 Half-Fiend, +1 size increase]

Designer's Note: the class "Electrokineticist" is identical to the Pyrokineticist class found here, save that the energy type "fire" has been replaced entirely with the energy type "electricity". All rules contained in the class, and thus needed to use this NPC, are included - DMs may copy and use this stat-block as is, without need of reference to the XPH. If desired, the Ul-Shadai can be treated as unique form of arcane caster - simply treat his Wild Talent feat as a necessary "speed-bump" to his Electrokineticist powers and replace the term 'psi-like abilities' with 'spell-like abilities'.

Designer's Note Part 2: the Ul-Shadai is presented here as a recent escape of his unmarked tomb, sapped of strength after dozens of millennia of confinement without sustenance or stimulation of any kind. In the event that a DM wishes to use a more advanced, higher CR version of the Cackling Whirlwind, the Ul-Shadai can be presumed to feast on the flesh of the new world, rapidly regaining his ancient strength and potency - Abzirael may be advanced to 21 HD of Outsider without changing his size; add 8 to his HD and 4 to his CR.

Male Half-Fiend Advanced Djinni Electrokineticist 5 / Rogue 3
CE Huge Outsider (Air, Extraplanar)
Init +11 [+7 Dex., +4 Improved Initiative];
Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +23, Spot +23

DEFENSE

AC 32, touch 19, flat-footed 25
(+4 armor, +4 deflection (from [i]unholy aura[/i)], +7 Dex, +9...

Nice job, Booms. You totally stole my idea, which of course was wholly original and no one else would EVER have thought of (as if!), to post a 'director's cut' version of my villain post comments. I may still.

Merry Christmas and a long-distance high-five for my brother from another gonzo mother. :)

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

thatboomerkid wrote:

Adapting the Ul-Shadai to Your Campaign

I intended for Abzirael to act, at lower levels, as a sort of "meta-villain"; that is, he exists primarliy to make other villains more dangerous - as well as more villainous.

If the campaign features a mildly-evil antagonist, be they a spellcaster or war-leader, including anything from the desperate Lizardfolk Ranger to the aristocratic Halfling Wizard to the conniving Tiefling leader of a Thief's Guild, the arrival of the Ul-Shadai provides a sudden boost in power to such an opponent, allowing them to suddenly outpace PCs who would otherwise soon level-up past the abilites of the NPC to handle.

An NPC's (or PC's!) use of the Ul-Shadai in this way is plainly an evil act, which means that neutrally-aligned antagonists will, more than likely, soon become more villainous and despotic - and perfect for higher-level play as they acquire treasure, servants and power previously undreamt-of. During these levels, it is likely that Abzirael is as much a "force" as he is an "opponent" - a savage whirlwind of strange lightning appears, rips a castle to shards of blistered stone in a wicked storm of laughter and destruction, and just as suddenly departs, the King dead . . . and his crown missing.

Similarly, the Ul-Shadai is unique in that unlike many villains, he has no "base of operations" - he need neither sleep, nor eat, nor even breathe, and he is gifted with the ability to literally go wherever he wants, via plane shift, flight, invisibility, gaseous form, wind walk and his absurd strength. A group of PCs wishing to "hunt" Abzirael would find such a task all but impossible . . . without a plot-device provided by the DM, of course.

I mean, the Storm-Scholar and his apprentices had to have caught the guy SOMEHOW, right?

In the end, the Ul-Shadai is gathering an army - guilds of assassins, bands of monsterous humanoids, legions of knights, entire schools of wizards, even fallen churches - via the simplest method he knows how, all to aid in his...

This actually reminds me a great deal of the 'shadows' from Babylon 5. They come in on the side of the Centauri in their war vs. Narn, and suddenly where they were getting their butts kicked they turn it around and become the kickers instead of the kickees, and in the course of it turn to a deeper degree of evil than they had realized.

Kewl beans.

P.S. I like the revised 'electrokineticist' flavor. Nice touch.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:

This actually reminds me a great deal of the 'shadows' from Babylon 5. They come in on the side of the Centauri in their war vs. Narn, and suddenly where they were getting their butts kicked they turn it around and become the kickers instead of the kickees, and in the course of it turn to a deeper degree of evil than they had realized.

Kewl beans.

I love, love, LOVE a ton of the Babylon 5 universe, but I hadn't even considered the parallel to the Shadows. That's . . . awesome.

And I thank you.

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
P.S. I like the revised 'electrokineticist' flavor. Nice touch.

The design was shifted, honestly, because of the comments by Set, on Thu, Dec 20, 2007, 10:06 AM - it should be on my second page. In summation, he pointed out how the fire/air combo didn't really gel for him - he was hoping for more of a lightning theme, and that made a lot of sense to me. Well, hell, I thought: I can do that!

Also - in my own head, I just couldn't get around one thing: if this guy is part Demon, it would be best if his powers worked against Devils, right?

Ta-DA! The sort of at-the-table adjustment that I wouldn't hesitate to make as a DM, now in Director's Cut format . . . along with an increase in damage dice (why was Abzirael using his claws if his slams do an additional 1d6 damage a pop), re-arranged feats and other edits!

Merry Christmas!

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

thatboomerkid wrote:
Jason Nelson 20 wrote:

This actually reminds me a great deal of the 'shadows' from Babylon 5. They come in on the side of the Centauri in their war vs. Narn, and suddenly where they were getting their butts kicked they turn it around and become the kickers instead of the kickees, and in the course of it turn to a deeper degree of evil than they had realized.

Kewl beans.

I love, love, LOVE a ton of the Babylon 5 universe, but I hadn't even considered the parallel to the Shadows. That's . . . awesome.

And I thank you.

In that case, let me reminisce about a clip I hadn't thought about in a while but that popped into my mind just now, that is one of my favorite from the entire series. Vir is getting really sick of having to do Londo's dirty work, interacting with Mr. Morden, the ambassador for the shadows, leading to the following exchange (and I'm paraphrasing cuz I haven't seen the episode in a long time):

Morden: "Tell me Vir, what do you want?"
Vir: "What do I want, Mr. Morden? What I want is your head, mounted on a pike in front of the palace on Centauri Prime, as a monument for everyone to see, a reminder of the fact that some favors come at too high a price. And every day, when I walked past, I will look up into your cold, dead eyes, and wave... like this (a mincing little wave and a smirk). Do you think your masters could arrange that for me?"

Morden, of course, got mad and stormed off, but the sublime beauty of it was that TWO SEASONS LATER, after the shadows have been defeated, they paid off the gag, and Mr. Morden's head WAS in fact mounted on a pike on Centauri Prime as a monument for all to see, and Vir did in fact get to look up into his cold, dead eyes, and wave... like this.

Loved it. Sometimes they do it just right, and that was one of those times.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:


In that case, let me reminisce about a clip I hadn't thought about in a while but that popped into my mind just now, that is one of my favorite from the entire series. Vir is getting really sick of having to do Londo's dirty work, interacting with Mr. Morden, the ambassador for the shadows, leading to the following exchange (and I'm paraphrasing cuz I haven't seen the episode in a long time):

Morden: "Tell me Vir, what do you want?"
Vir: "What do I want, Mr. Morden? What I want is your head, mounted on a pike in front of the palace on Centauri Prime, as a monument for everyone to see, a reminder of the fact that some favors come at too high a price. And every day, when I walked past, I will look up into your cold, dead eyes, and wave... like this (a mincing little wave and a smirk). Do you think your masters could arrange that for me?"

Morden, of course, got mad and stormed off, but the sublime beauty of it was that TWO SEASONS LATER, after the shadows have been defeated, they paid off the gag, and Mr. Morden's head WAS in fact mounted on a pike on Centauri Prime as a monument for all to see, and Vir did in fact get to look up into his cold, dead eyes, and wave... like this.

Loved it. Sometimes they do it just right, and that was one of those times.

God, Morden was awesome.

My favorite episode of Babylon 5 was probably "Day of the Dead", the Season 5 episode written by Neil Gaiman, which was awesome on seventeen dozen levels, PLUS it was the return of Morden.

SO cool.

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

thatboomerkid wrote:

My favorite episode of Babylon 5 was probably "Day of the Dead", the Season 5 episode written by Neil Gaiman, which was awesome on seventeen dozen levels, PLUS it was the return of Morden.

SO cool.

One of only two redeeming 5th season episodes, the other of which was actually shot for season 4 (the finale). But not my favorite. My favorite is Lando and G'Kar trapped in the elevator.

Morden's great. I used him in a Living Greyhawk module, more or less.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

So, what does the name mean?

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Chris Mortika wrote:
So, what does the name mean?

Oooohhh, good question!

BTW, I apologize for the delay: I just finished my traditional "A Very Arkham-Horror Christmas!" with the whole household, and have only just now returned to the Internets.

So: the name "Abzirael" is completely meaningless - I picked sounds at random until I found a series of syllables that 'popped' for me; something poetical, quasi-religious, and alien with a little bit of mystery. Then I typed it into Google and made small changes to it until I found a completely unused name.

But there were certain intentional design elements: I've always liked villains with an "A" at the beginning of their name, and I wanted a strongly angelic name, because the guy is the product of two legendary, semi-deific Outsiders - so I worked with names similar to "Azrael", the archangel of Death (from the Arabic, it's "Azra'il" or "Azra'eil"). Amusingly, I finally decided on the exact name after I discovered that it fit into the song "The First Noel":

"Noel, Noel; Born is the King Abzirael"

. . . obviously, you have to kind of, you know, DRAG out the last part, of course.

As for his last name, "Ul-Shadai": I've always like the hymn "El Shaddai", named for one of the traditional Judaic terms for God.

from Wiki:

It is normally translated "God Almighty who is all sufficient". The term probably means "God of the Mountain," referring to the Mesopotamian divine mountain.

Remembering how cool and flavorful it was when one of my friends created a fanatical LN fundamentalist desert religion that worshipped a sun god with the title "Pel-Ur", I wanted to create a corruption of name that hinted at his ancestry and power.

I was stunned when the name didn't register on Google - surely, I could not be the first person who thought those sounds were neat together. The name stuck.

As for his title? It was ALWAYS supposed to be "The Cackling Whirlwind", but somehow a finger slipped and then my stupid brain used copy-and-paste without proofreading.

Sigh. Well: live and learn, and cross my fingers for the next twelve hours that I make it to the next round!

Liberty's Edge

Darkjoy wrote:
At this time I don't know yet, but I am getting a BBEG vibe not a villain vibe.

Quick side question ...

What is BBEG??? I've seen this a few times lately. I'm assuming it originates from video games of some kind?

Can you tell I sort of tend to hate trendy acronyms?

Thanks!

Dark Archive

Marc Radle 81 wrote:


Quick side question ...

What is BBEG??? I've seen this a few times lately. I'm assuming it originates from video games of some kind?

Can you tell I sort of tend to hate trendy acronyms?

Thanks!

Big Bad Evil Guy.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

thatboomerkid wrote:
As for his title? It was ALWAYS supposed to be "The Cackling Whirlwind", but somehow a finger slipped and then my stupid brain used...

That makes me feel much better. :)

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Boomer,

Congrats. Great villain. Once again you totally deliver. You've tempered your gonzo Tarantino vibe just enough, which is good. I didnt want you to change. Just to find the right level of restraint. But it is always easier to turn someone down a notch than to turn someone up a notch. Keep up the excellent work. Some people have stayed in this by avoiding getting Cs, if you know what I mean. A few villains were "playing not to loose." I certainly wont ever accuse you of that. And I respect that. Good luck. I'll be watching you.

Clark

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Clark Peterson wrote:
thatboomerkid wrote:
As for his title? It was ALWAYS supposed to be "The Cackling Whirlwind", but somehow a finger slipped and then my stupid brain used...
That makes me feel much better. :)

The worst part was when my buddy Toddzilla (player of Krusk from PSA Part 3) misread the Ul-Shadai's already messed-up title as "The Cackling Wiggling".

Which led to a giant drunk man running around my house yelling "I'm the Giggly Wiggly!!!"

Oi.

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
thatboomerkid wrote:
I could kiss both Watcher and Laserray right on the lips.

Would you be wearing your Hennet-belts at the time? I just want to make sure I'm visualizing this correctly.

:)


Clark Peterson wrote:

I'll be watching you.

Clark

Lol. I know this is with the best intentions... but it still seems quite... creepy... *Shutter*

Great Job Clinton! Can't wait to see what you do next round!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

Congrats, Clinton! Abzirael is a perfect Big Nasty Villain with all the High verve that forces the players to deal with him or die trying. Your 'Director's Cut' version looked great. I think I'd make him a Half-Farspawn and toss in Warlock too. (Still not a Psionics fan) Him and my spiked chain-wielding Efreet Blackguard would work so well together. Now... Gimme Monsters!!!! :)

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Sheyd wrote:
Congrats, Clinton! Abzirael is a perfect Big Nasty Villain with all the High verve that forces the players to deal with him or die trying. Your 'Director's Cut' version looked great. I think I'd make him a Half-Farspawn and toss in Warlock too. (Still not a Psionics fan) Him and my spiked chain-wielding Efreet Blackguard would work so well together. Now... Gimme Monsters!!!! :)

Ohhhh, Half-Farspawn! Okay, here's my commentary for THAT:

1 - Because he loses unholy aura, the Ul-Shadai is going to want something to give him:
(a) a +4 deflection mod. to AC, which is STILL a little low for his CR, but whatever - he has a crap-ton of hit points and a lot of 'fair-escape' options,
(b) a +4 resistance mod. to his saves, which help with that Evasion, and
(c) a potentially really nasty kick right in the Str. score if you hit him in melee.
Now, the first two of those (the +4s, I mean) are available for sale on the streets of Waterdeep, but that will increase his Treasure outside of the range of Standard for his CR - and you'll want to sub-out his shiny new Empower Spell-like Ability feat for something else.

Still, he begs for an ability to make people think twice about just running up and stabbing him. PCs are stupid.

One option would be to give him a scroll or two of unholy aura so that he doesn't lose the "kewl pwerzorz!", but Abzirael has no Use Magic Device (although you can juggle some skill points, of course - he DOES have Rogue levels and a high Charisma) and those things are expensive.

2 - Unless you swap around his base stats a bit, the Ul-Shadai is going to become a tiny bit less strong, a little less dexterous, and a whole lot tougher (more constitutional, I guess?) when you strip off Half-Fiend and tack on Half-Farspawn. Also, his wisdom will jump and his intelligence will drop, which is weird.

As a DM, you can flavor to taste, obviously - but it's something to think about.

3 - If you still feel the burn to crank up the Farspawn angle, and I hope that you do, here's some good news: Abzirael now has a pair of kick-ass tentacle attacks (with a +15 ft. reach that will do 2d6 damage if you slap Improved Natural Attack on them, no less!) that, along with his Multiattack, strike at the same bonus to attack and damage as his bite.

Sweet.

4 - While his spell-resistance drops from 30 to 25, he DOES gain the insane Change Shape (into a "grotesque, tentacled mass", apparently) ability, which gives him 2 more tentacle attacks, makes him immune to crits, and gives everyone who isn't immune to morale a -1 penalty on all attacks rolls against him . . . and I personally see no particular reason why he would ever NOT be in that form.

"Oh NO, my looks! How on earth will I ever go into polite society again? I'll be humilia- wait a minute! I'm a GOD! I don't CARE! Now, what was I saying? Oh yes: COWER BEFORE ME, MORTALS!"

5 - While he loses the ability to summon 1d3 vrocks to cover a retreat, he gains the truly weird ability to summon 1d3 pseudonatural colossal monstrous centipedes instead, which might be the hardest thing I can think of to sub-in for miniatures EVER. Might try getting a bunch of six-inch-by-six-inch cardboard squares and covering them in, I guess, whatever the freakiest s@## is that the human mind can possibly conceive of.

Huh. Maybe shellacking a fistful of semi-damp spaghetti & burned wire coat-hangers in the shape of an upside-down clown head vomiting a copy of "Manos, the Hands of Fate" would do it.

Anyway, best of luck - hope your players hate and fear me!

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

thatboomerkid wrote:

Ohhhh, Half-Farspawn! Okay, here's my commentary for THAT:

(snip)

3 - If you still feel the burn to crank up the Farspawn angle, and I hope that you do, here's some good news: Abzirael now has a pair of kick-ass tentacle attacks (with a +15 ft. reach that will do 2d6 damage if you slap Improved Natural Attack on them, no less!) that, along with his Multiattack, strike at the same bonus to attack and damage as his bite.

Sweet.

Heheheh. Don't forget Rapidstrike and Improved Rapidstrike. We don't want 2 tentacle attacks, we want 5 tentacle attacks!

Of course you could always just slap the epic Pseudonatural template on there .. but that's just mean. I would never do such a thing. Well, okay, not more than once to the same creature.

---

By the way, in thinking on the Abzirael here, it dawned on me that I immediately formed a mental picture of him like the dude from 300. Except, like, actually capable of doing something.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

gbonehead wrote:


By the way, in thinking on the Abzirael here, it dawned on me that I immediately formed a mental picture of him like the dude from 300. Except, like, actually capable of doing something.

Cool!

. . . wait, which guy from 300?

You mean Xerxes, God-King of Persia, or the Spartan guy, Leonidas?

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

thatboomerkid wrote:
gbonehead wrote:


By the way, in thinking on the Abzirael here, it dawned on me that I immediately formed a mental picture of him like the dude from 300. Except, like, actually capable of doing something.

Cool!

. . . wait, which guy from 300?

You mean Xerxes, God-King of Persia, or the Spartan guy, Leonidas?

Definitely the God-King, except not a wuss.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

gbonehead wrote:


Definitely the God-King, except not a wuss.

Cool!

BTW, that's exactly what I was going for.

But with a bigger beard.


thatboomerkid wrote:

Abzirael Ul-Shadai, the Cackling Whirling

In the World before the World that is,
Yha-El-Hial, Gleaming King of Wind & Sun,
contested mightily against
Surtu-Bal-Rashad, Horrid King of Flame & Sorrow.

On the eve of Great Battle, Yha-El-Hial sent his most cunning vizier,
his silver-tongued mage Aishrak-Fazil Qurim, called ‘the Unlit Sky’,
to make counsel with the strange, coiling enemy of his enemy,
the whispered blasphemy called Lilit-Ram-Tha.

In darkness, Fazil drank the secrets of the Efreet.
In darkness, Fazil breathed the weakness of his foes.
In darkness, Fazil paid the Serpent blood, water and life.
In darkness, Fazil escaped, and flew Victory to his King.

And in darkness, Abzirael Ul-Shadai was brought forth,
born to end All the Worlds.

These things, I also saw.

- Account of Ish-Horam the Select,
Fragment from the Testament of Seven Metal Mountains

Thirty feet tall and weighing 20,000 pounds, the vast alabaster giant called Abzirael Ul-Shadai possesses thick, blood-caked claws, a mouth full of sharp, yellow teeth, haunting, sky-blue eyes and thick coils of wiry black beard. The spawn of a uniquely non-good Djinni and a forgotten, multi-gendered Elder Demon of Insanity & Foulness, this ancient beast once again wanders the world, bestowing dark favors to war-leaders and despots.

[spoiler]

Abzirael Ul-Shadai, the Cackling Whirling
CR 16 [CR 5 Djinn, +7 (5 Outsider HD, 8 non-associated class levels w/ Elite Stat Set), +3 Half-Fiend, +1 size increase]

Male Half-Fiend Advanced Djinni Pyrokineticist 5 / Rogue 3
CE Huge Outsider (Air, Extraplanar)
Init +11 [+7 Dex., +4 Improved Initiative]; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +22, Spot +22

DEFENSE

AC 32, touch 19, flat-footed 25
(+4 armor, +4 deflection (from unholy aura), +7 Dex, +9 natural [+3 Djinn, +3 Size Increase, +1 Half-Fiend, +2 magic], -2 size)
hp 224 (12d8+84 from Outsider), (5d8+35 from Pyrokineticist), (3d6+21 from Rogue)
Fort +24...


Clinton Boomer is fabulous.....I have enjoyed his intelect and imagination ..... Rock on Boomer

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