Voeren van Premie, Herald of Than Aivel


Round 3: Design a villain

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Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

Like many others, I am not a fan of psionics, and have barely glanced at their rules.

But this was such a cool way to use psionics that I would have no problem using them for this villain. Creepy undersea cult, blue pupil-less eyes, and "divine" powers that are really psionics. I'm definitely going to give psionics a closer glance now. I'll need to when I introduce Voeren to my game. :)

This one stood out from a sea of other blah-psionics-blah to hook me. You got my vote. Congratulations, and good luck!


Joseph Yerger wrote:
“Beneath the land lies the eternal sea from which all life came; in the deep, the forgotten rulers of long ago and yet to come wait while we, their disciples, prepare their approaching ascendancy.” -Voeren van Premie

It evokes Edgar Allen Poe in my mind (The City Beneath the Sea), but it then gets a tad wordy on the 75 centers. The name "van Premie" seems too close to "premie" for me, meaning a premature child.

This is the second psion villain choice. Also interesting and different. Good to see that this fellow is training lots of minions. That said, I didn't get enough flavor text for my preferences - too much space was spent on the mechanical stuff. I also thought the adventure hooks were a bit thin, and at the end of the day I had a tough time buying that the aboleths had rescued someone.


Ugh, the name is just plain horrible. Otherwise though its a very well-done entry, if perhaps a bit cliche in the 'cult leader' department. I rather like psionics and found that your use of them was perfectly suited to the task, though I don't like it as a religion.

Maybe.


Mactaka wrote:

I love psionics and am happy to see you do something that at least in my experience is unique and different with cults and aboleth and incorporating psionics to mimic divine intervention.

Well written. Liked how you choose some very good powers to make Voeren survivable. Like WB said, you could wrap a campaign around this...very nice.

Love the backstory too. I can't wait until those goody-goody pallies or priests use detect lie or zone of truth to find out what V. is really about only to get truth when he explains his vision...

This quote pretty much sums up how I feel about this entry. I only have a few issues, but they aren't so serious as to disregard this entry. I don't really like the name, I think the villain's Charisma stat could be higher (although I know you had to augment the stats according to the race; it just seems that for a religious figure and influential person, it could be higher) and I think that you could have elaborated on the tactics.

I am not used to playing with psionics, and have never played a psionic character. However, I love what you came up with here. The aboleth religious cult, with its fake priests manifesting "divine" powers to "convert" the masses is a truly unique and creative idea.

This villain has goals, plots and schemes to achieve his goals and he creates plenty of conflict and story for the PCs (destroy it or leave it... or join it?).

BTW, I'm stealing my boyfriend's XPH... I may consider playing a psion in the near future.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

chikenoodle wrote:
BTW, I'm stealing my boyfriend's XPH... I may consider playing a psion in the near future.

You won't regret it.

Well you might regret it, because then you'll want the complete psionic and cry if you get it, then you'll want Untapped Potential to make Complete psionic hurt less, then races of the mind, then Hyperconscious... ;-)


As both a long time Dm, player, and fan of Psionics in the D&D Game. I found your villain absolutely cool. You obviously did your homework or are very versed in the rules for psionics. I checked your stat block and did not find any errors. Good Job! I read most of the post concerning your entry and cited many people normally do not grasp the idea of psionics in a fantasy game. However, your entry grabbed them with its exotic alure and then pulled them in kicking and screaming to the hole of the unconscious mind called "imagination." It takes a good creative writer to do that!

Second, being a fan of psionics in D&D, I was immediately grabbed by your use of them coupled with Lovecraftian horror. Aboleth in my mind at least, spell two things; Underdark & Cthulu. Cults and a false religeon, had me frothing. They are all elements to a great campaign and a memorable villain. You could easily design an entire campaign around him. He has it all, reappearance, thralls, mastermind, a darker master....All the makings of a great villain!

Finally, with my above opinion and (as noted in other posts)the lack of "villains" in this competition, your entry easily has my vote. I agree with the judges. You have been improving each round, with this being your strongest yet. I hope you continue to improve and that we shall see you in the future rounds of the competition. Good luck!


The first sentence amused me to the extent that I was ready to like this entry. And I did.

As for names, it does happen that some (or most) names do not work in all languages. God knows D&D has good number of names which I would need to change because they break the illusion in Finnish, or Swedish, or German, or another language I speak (drow assassin Lassiviren has been discussed in this board previously). Same for literature (when Howard's King Kull stories were translated in Finnish, the name was changed to Kall because the original name refers to male genitalia). Same for real world...

These things happen and they are unavoidable. Howard's Kull stories are still pretty nifty even if the name is obscene.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6

magdalena thiriet wrote:

The first sentence amused me to the extent that I was ready to like this entry. And I did.

These things happen and they are unavoidable. Howard's Kull stories are still pretty nifty even if the name is obscene.

MAybe that was intentional? What was he story about Lassiviren? I missed that one


I'm quite liking Premie.

Hey, you're from Sarasota.

"Knock knock?"
"Who's there?"
"Sarasota."
"Sarasota who?"
"Sarasota in the fridge? I'm thirsty."


"Than Aivel and the other aboleth mages will cause the sea waters to rise and drown the surface world"

I also like this entry because of this ^.

So many times in the past it's the "blot out the sun from the sky" angle.

I like the cruel spin on the biblical story.


Matthew Morris wrote:
MAybe that was intentional? What was he story about Lassiviren? I missed that one

Somehow I doubt it was intentional :)

Lasse Viren (and pronounced Lassiviren is pretty much the same) is Finnish long-distance runner, won a bunch of olympic medals in 70's. Equivalent would be running across a NPC named Kareemabduljabbar or Tonyaharding (both sports figures not well known outside US).

Wouldn't be surprised if the creator of Lassiviren did pick a nice-sounding name from some obscure source, and I guess the similar effect has happened here with Voeren van Premie (and judging from naming conventions of Saran entry, I'm pretty sure of it). Which is a nice naming convention, I use it myself, but when people are familiar with that source, it becomes funny.
Nevertheless, in my opinion this contest should be ruled according to English language. Criticism on name Cumavea was understandable (though a bit exaggerated). Criticism on name Voeren van Premie is understandable on the extent of "premie" being used for premature babies...


NAMES, NAMES, NAMES...

I would wager - and win - that almost every NAME in EVERY RGP ever conceived, if its etiology was investiagted, would have a source somewhere within the mythos of the human experience - unless of course you want to pursue a Tolkeinesque mystique and invent alphabets, languages, etc that are totally removed from the purview of 'normal' humanity...

If youse don' like da names - change'um!!!!! No Problem, mon...


When not deliberating using another language to arrive at a name for something, I seldom base a name on something specific. I let all that I've experienced in this lifetime course across my expectant, calm and empty mind with my eyes closed... mumbling syllables in slow motion until the right combination clicks in and the door opens.

An aside:

People always seem to think creative titles derive from a single meaning.

Anthony Burgess, when asked about the title A Clockwork Orange had a couple different reasons for coming to the name. He'd lived in Thailand, and there, orang meant man. A clockwork man, controlled by a behavior modifying system. And then orange as in the fruit itself; something that has life, color and essence, also made clockwork and losing that vibrancy. He meant both. He may have even had a third reason.


Nice response Jade - and well thought out...double entendere's are wonderful things to employ - they can convey so much more depth to the imago characteri than a simple name of one source - which is what I think is intended in the naming of this villain

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

The two things that I couldn't get away from in this entry is not getting why the aboleth wanted to convert people just to then flood the world - especially since the aboleth tend to convert people to skum - I'm not sure why they'd want deluded converts first. Also, every time I read about aboleth mages, I said to myself, "Shouldn't that be aboleth savants?" Then I stopped talking to myself, since my wife was giving me funny looks.

I don't mind the psionics, but I felt that this was a pretty cliche example - psionic telepath controls lots of folks mentally. To me the false religion also felt a bit overdone, been there, seen that before. And, while Voeren definately has a plan, I think his aboleth overlord should be the Villain here, not his servant.

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

This Voeren is a wordy sort of speaker, isn't he? Maybe that's what happens when you don't need to breathe as often as other people.

This is an interesting use of elan and of aboleths. Again, it's effective to present some description before diving into the stat block.

Tactics show very effective use of schism.

The author has used a repeated and unfortunate sentence structure as well as some expressions that aren't sentences. He's misspelt "resilience". There are a lot of errors in the stat block. Without dwelling on it, this many technical problems are unacceptable at this level of the competition.

Sovereign Court

I'm not a psionic user, so you kind of lost me there. Posts by Grimcleaver etc. sort of convinced me that this is borderline for me at best. My question is if Voeren is defeated, won't the aboleths just flood the island some other way? Aren't they the real villain and this guy, with his tenuous backstory, is a stepping stone, the head of a psionic cult. Just not feeling it.

Grand Lodge

I'm not totally convinced. I like the concept and it is well-worked out, but the hooks section is very very weak.


Matthew Morris wrote:


What bothered me was he's not a villain to me, he's a pawn. He's working for someone else, and is just a limb. Slaughtering his minions won't set him back, in a few days he's up to full strength again. That's part of the reason DMs hate Thrallherds. Thralls/Believers are like Doritos.

The four I voted for I did because I saw them as villains. King of the hill, top of the heap. They don't work for anyone except themselves. Even Seskadrin, though he follows a power, is working to build his kingdom, not someone else's.

Who's have thought that we'd have a psionic something that Clark liked but it didn't gel for me? Sorry Mr. Yerger, I'd use him as an anti-Marcus, but don't feel he's a 'villain' in what I'm looking for.

I've been tough on Joseph (particularly in the first round), but I thought this was a good villain (although it didn't make my list, sorry.)

Some of the other entries have garnered "what does it mean to be a villain" discussion, and I have to respectfully disagree with Matthew. A minion can make a great villain. Take Darth Vader as an example. Darth Vader is one of the best villains of all time, but you find out later he's just a flunky for someone much worse. Sometimes, its good to have a villain that is a path to a bigger plot line.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

So far, this is one of my favorite entries in this round.

I'm not generally a fan of psionics, but you made very good use of it here. The only time I've brought psionics into a serious campaign is somewhat similar to this - a mysterious power from another universe directing followers in this one. I appreciate the thought you put into justifying psionics here.

I worry that you might be setting up the PC's to fail with Voeren. Even if they do defeat him, why wouldn't the aboleths just flood the surface anyway? While we're thinking about that, why would they send Voeren to begin with? I think a different long-term goal could've really helped your entry: maybe the aboleths need a large number of elans for some ritual that would allow them to flood Verindum? This way the PC's can really win with Voeren's defeat.

Oh, and I agree that Voeren is definitely a villain - even though the aboleths are pulling the strings, the players would never even have to see them. Voeren is perfectly capable of providing conflict all by himself.

Continue working on your writing, as there are several spots where it needs some touch-up. In particular, pay attention to sentance structure (you've got several run-on sentances and fragments) and avoiding the passive voice.

But, overall, good job. I hope to see you next round!


I thunk'd dat dis heir contesst wuz s'posed ta be about kre-a-tiv-ity...knot a anglich lisson...

'nuff siad 'bout dat...

But seriously, all of these contestants are (hopefully since it is part of the process) working solo on this project...in a real-world situation, there are multitudes of proofreaders, editors and other folks with input to help clean-up any liguistic difficulties [and don't forget that there was a max on the number of words that can be used here]. I work with wordsmithing for a living and always have extra input when crafting something truly important...If an entry in this contest is understandable (ever consider that this person's first language might not be English - verstehen Sie mich?) then look at the originality and imagination...the crafting of an imago villianus is not necessarily an easy task...

Da lastest ting heah - injoy da innur workins' o' da mines uv dese folkkes - dey albe werkin' hard fer youse guys hoo pleys dese gaymes...and these aspiring writers are your colleagues in play - so show some collegiality...

I really hope the grammarians in the crowd will appreciate the final PUBLISHABLE work of whoever wins the contest, AFTER it has been edited, reviewed by peers (or is that piers?) and proofed by many others...shalom


Very creatvie I like how you incorporated crazy, cults, immortality and psionics so Voeren gets one of my votes. Good luck.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 8

CastleMike wrote:
Very creatvie I like how you incorporated crazy, cults, immortality and psionics so Voeren gets one of my votes. Good luck.

Thanks CM, I do appreciate your vote and the vote of all other psionics fans. I'm sad to say that I am still without internet and will continue to be so until Thursday. I am only stealing a moment on my parents computer (they live an hour away).

I must admit I think I have an interesting theme for next round if I advance.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Forever Man

I admit I normally fall into the camp of "psionics isn't a fantasy concept & doesn't really belong in the game," but hypocritically, I thought Dark Sun was awesome.

I really think this one goes beyond a "mere villian" and is an outline for a really neat campaign or adventure path with psionics being the basis of a false church. I'm with Erik Mona - that's about the best use of psionics in D&D that I could think of.

"Excellent." - M. Burns

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 8

<b>Responses:</b>

Grimcleaver wrote:

Again, this is another one of those "everyone loves it but I don't" entries. I don't get the motivation of the aboleths here. Aboleth, for me, means a pretty specific thing--hatred and disdain for surface dwellers and an inherant knowledge of their own superiority. I don't see them saving some village kid like Flipper, or changing him into a super elan to start a false religion. If they could flood the area, they likely would.

If they ran into a dying kid, they might turn him into a skum...or they might just watch him die with a certain dispassionate satisfaction. I don't see the benefit to them of this cult or by sharing powerful aboleth abilities with humans unless (like with the Runelords of Thassilon) there was a pretty solid deal in place and the aboleths felt sure they were getting the best end of it.

All those conceptions about Aboleths that have grown over the years from older modules such as Night Below are null and void for the purpose of this contest, as that is non-SRD content. Very few monsters (if any) in the SRD have fluff text describing them, their mentality and civilizations. I just tried to take it in a new route. BTW, also in the SRD there is no mention of any kind of connection with skum.

Evil Genius wrote:
I adore this entry. The only gripe I have about it is the last name of the villain... Primie reminds me too much of the slang term for a prematurely-birthed baby... That is, unless the name is pronounced Pree-mee-ay...

I intended it to be pronounced as Prehm-Mee.

Darkjoy wrote:
Being Dutch ,I really dislike the faux-Dutch name(s) you've adopted here.

I apologize for any perceived slight, insult or agitation caused by the name. I had used an online translator translating the phrase "Bringer of Bounty"; Dutch came up with Voeren van Premie, so it was intended as a double entandre'.

gbonehead wrote:

My main issue with this one is naming. I see this:

Voeren van Premie, Herald of Than Aivel

And I immediately think, "okay, so we've got a vampire, and he's a minion of some fallen angel or something."

Then I get an enslaved minion of an aboleth. Love the concept, but the motivations and hooks are a bit iffy due to the aboleth superiority thing. And I completely hate the names - the names sound like Ravenloft, not Lovecraft.

Thanks, I prefer Ravenloft myself. It is the only published campaign setting which I will DM. It holds a special place for me as a fan of gothic horror.

Starglim wrote:
He's misspelt "resilience". There are a lot of errors in the stat block.

I had to go back and check, but yes there was once that I typo'd it as Resiliance. It happens. I'd like to know about the errors in the Stat Block, I included everything necessary per the directions, my math is correct. I typically use psionics in my game so I am well versed in their usage. So please correct me if you found errors.

JoelF847 wrote:
Also, every time I read about aboleth mages, I said to myself, "Shouldn't that be aboleth savants?"

They are not listed as Aboleth Savants in the SRD. They are still only listed under the Psionics section as "Aboleth, psionic".

<b>Design Choices:</b>
This villain was inspired by the HP Lovecraft story, "The Shadow over Innsmouth". I intended to seriously water the horror and alien-ness down to avoid heavy Cthulu references and +/- remarks based off that. I had taken enough of a gamble using psionics in the first place.

In my normal games at home, psionics are a regular part of the world. So I admit I am in the minority, but I did try to lead somewhat with what I know and love.

As I stated earlier, Voeren van Premie was an internet translation (which how can I truly trust that?) but worked well for a name. The name never invoked the image of premature babies for me, I'm sorry that it did for some of you. Every villain must have something about them which you hate; I admit hating the name is weak, but you work with what you have. Than Aivel was a twisting and partial reversal of Leviathan, another double entandre'.

As a DM who uses psionics, I have actually converted several players in liking the system and even using or playing psionic characters; the praise from the judges acknowledging that I made them want to look at those rules, or that they had a reason to try liking psionics is high praise for me.

Thank you everyone for your votes and attention. Hopefully you'll see me next round.


I have to echo those who have noted their distaste for psionics. I personally have never liked the system. That said, I loved Voeren as a villain. I give very high marks for a villain that uses a system that I frankly abhor but has a story compelling enough to intrigue me regardless. The horror tone is well-served by the use of the aboleth, and I myself could see several different ways to use Voeren and his masters in my campaign. I don't see the aboleth behavior as out of character. They are an alien enough that their motivations can be a bit murky, I believe.

You have my vote. I hope to see you in round 4.

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

Joseph Yerger wrote:


Darkjoy wrote:
Being Dutch ,I really dislike the faux-Dutch name(s) you've adopted here.

I apologize for any perceived slight, insult or agitation caused by the name. I had used an online translator translating the phrase "Bringer of Bounty"; Dutch came up with Voeren van Premie, so it was intended as a double entandre'.

Aha, thought so, because further along the entry you used the word shepper / schepper and I was guessing that you were doing it intentional.

You don't have to apologize, I guess you've been punished enough by picking a name that 'alienated' the Dutch speaking community of Paizo. We are small but vocal ;>


CONGRATULATIONS, and GOOD LUCK as you develop your monster creations!


Allow me to congradulate you on a job extremely well done! You made it to the fourth round! I felt that to compel the readers enough to want to revisit the use of pisonics in there campaign is a magnificent accomplishment. This alone is worthy of continuing in the fourth round! Few of the round three entries created as an compelling villian as yours, in my humble opinion, CONGRATS JOE!


You've always had the most wonderful concepts for your worlds and having gamed with you for years now, I can honestly say you'll go far in this competition. Take the criticisms for what they are - opinions - and keep trucking. I can't wait to see your monsters for next round. We love you.


I add my congratulations also, well done. Looking forward to your next entries.

I also applaud your tactful explanations for your usage of the SRD.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Watcher wrote:

Psionics are OGL? Then the conversation is over as far as I am concerned. There were no stipulations that someone couldn't make a psionic villain for a psionic campaign.

That's part and parcel with judging something on it's own merits. He wasn't restricted, so you can't hold it against him. Granted it might be damn harder to make anybody like a psionic villain over a villain that fits the evaluators standard way of thinking, but I think this guy pulled it off.

Right now, I'm of a kind of "stay within the rules" mind set. I didn't care for how some requirements were held to be of such paramount importance that other requirements were practically overlooked or skimmed at best. HOWEVER, that sword cuts both ways, and in this instance, it cuts in this contestants favor. If Psionics are OGL, it would be wrong to hold it against him just because it's psionics. Otherwise you've set him up to fail but not outlawing psionics to begin with.

Granted Mr. Contestant, I'm not sure I would try the psionics trick again next round, but you're getting my vote this time.

I hear what you are saying. And i think your end of post caution is a good one: watch the psionics thing next time...

But that said, you cant say that a person cant be judged for making a design decision to include rules that--while in the SRD--have a marginal appeal. That was a risky decision and he pulled it off well, as others did (much to my surprise, frankly). There is absolutely nothing wrong with judging the design decision of the creator to potentially limit the appeal of his entry to voters who are inclined to like psionics.

But I agree with you. I wouldnt go back to that well again...

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Design comments aside, I wanted to congratulate Joe!

Nice work. I'm glad you advanced. As I said in response to this entry I thought your prior entries were good but not awesome; this one, though, was truly great. Some times it is important to be peaking at the right time. You did enough to get you here (which is quite a bit, by the way) and now you are bringing it. Keep it up! And best of luck in the next round.

Clark


Hey, Joseph, glad to learn that chivalry is not gone in the land of villains and monsters....

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

Joseph Yerger wrote:

Responses:

gbonehead wrote:

My main issue with this one is naming. I see this:

Voeren van Premie, Herald of Than Aivel

And I immediately think, "okay, so we've got a vampire, and he's a minion of some fallen angel or something."

Then I get an enslaved minion of an aboleth. Love the concept, but the motivations and hooks are a bit iffy due to the aboleth superiority thing. And I completely hate the names - the names sound like Ravenloft, not Lovecraft.

Thanks, I prefer Ravenloft myself. It is the only published campaign setting which I will DM. It holds a special place for me as a fan of gothic horror.

Absolutely - Ravenloft was/is a great setting. But that was my point. If I see Ravenloft names, I expect Ravenloft themes.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 8

gbonehead wrote:

Absolutely - Ravenloft was/is a great setting. But that was my point. If I see Ravenloft names, I expect Ravenloft themes.

Not very hard to bring him into Ravenloft indeed. His "encounter" and "transformation" were the initial whisperings of the Dark Powers. Other failed powers checks would occur during his rise to power and his preparations for submersion. Finally his attempt to flood the land would be his act of ultimate evil which would then pull him and the (land/sea?) into the mists.

There, cursed to be cruelly confined to the water, he could see some of his errors and dream and work towards the day when he could once again walk on dry land or to submerge it as had been the earlier goal, never to realize it. He could build himself as the avatar and priest of his Than Aivel "god" continuing his cult much in the manner of Yagno Petrovna of Ghenna.

The aboleths never need be truly involved.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 8

Clark Peterson wrote:

Design comments aside, I wanted to congratulate Joe!

Nice work. I'm glad you advanced. As I said in response to this entry I thought your prior entries were good but not awesome; this one, though, was truly great. Some times it is important to be peaking at the right time. You did enough to get you here (which is quite a bit, by the way) and now you are bringing it. Keep it up! And best of luck in the next round.

Clark

Thank you Clark. Your support is much appreciated. I just hope I do not disappoint in this next round. Enjoy!

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