Elsie, The Hand Collector

Round 3: Design a villain

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Cruiser1

Every day you notice more victims, people with their hands cut off. Today even the mayor, who hired you to investigate, woke up to two bloody stumps. Who or what is doing this and why?

Description: Elsie is a typical "little old lady". She has fiendish characteristics, but keeps them well hidden. She enjoys gossip, knitting, caring for stray cats, and secretly severing the hands of people.

Collecting: Elsie typically begins by using social skills and divination to determine her next victim. She approaches under disguise and/or invisibility, followed by enchantment spells to get her target alone. Then she turns them to stone, breaks their hands off, and finally restores them and escapes. If she's feeling particularly vicious, she may use hold person and a dagger instead.

History: Elsie grew up a street orphan, mistrusted by all due to her heritage. One day she was falsely accused of stealing, the punishment of which was having her hand removed. What little sanity she had to begin with snapped like a twig, and she embarked upon a campaign of revenge against society, resolving to cause as much pain and fear as possible. She's long since got her hand regenerated, however the motivation to ruin the lives of others has remained just as strong over the years.

Lair: Elsie's "lair" is a well-kept manor in a respected neighborhood. Hidden in her basement are all the hands she's collected, nailed to a wall and in varied states of decay. She uses the severed hands as a bonus to scry against victims, taunting them from afar with message and sending spells. She's driven more than one person mad this way, much to her satisfaction.


  • Stealth: With both Still Spell and Silent Spell, Elsie can cause mayhem without anyone even knowing she's a caster. She uses nondetection to hide her alignment, and magic aura to make it seem like none of her gear is magical. Her "knitting needles" are actually wands.
  • Information: Elsie makes heavy use of divination. By the time she's confronted, she's most certainly knows they're coming, combined with an intimate knowledge of their strengths and weakness. She sets mental alarm spells throughout her property, so it's hard to ever surprise her.
  • Influence: Elsie is a respected member of the community. If attacked, she'll feign innocence and scream for help. Her "minions" consist of several dominated servants and unknowing neighbors who will attack on her behalf, posing a moral dilemma to good characters.
  • Targeting: Elsie only attacks the rich or powerful. This isn't done out of any compassion for the weak, but rather because they're no challenge. As characters gain levels, they become more tempting targets for her.
  • Tactics: Elsie seeks to subdue, not kill, so she can collect more trophies. Her hesitation to kill gives enemies opportunity.
  • Arrogance: Elsie tries to befriend characters, so she can betray them when the time is right. She's also likely to taunt investigators from afar, potentially giving them leads.



Female Planetouched (Tiefling) Sorcerer 14
CE Medium Outsider (Native)
Init +2 [Dex]; Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Listen +3, Spot +3 [+1 Wis +2 Alertness]


AC 22 [10 base +4 mage armor +2 ring +2 Dex +4 shield], touch 14, flat-footed 20 (armor +4, deflection +2, Dex +2, shield +4)
hp 64 (14d4+28) [14 level x 2 Con]
Fort +7 [+4 base +2 Con +1 resistance], Ref +7 [+4 base +2 Dex +1 resistance], Will +11 [+9 base +1 Wis +1 resistance]
Defensive Abilities Resistance to cold 5, electricity 5, and fire 5 [tiefling traits]


Spd 30 ft.
Melee +2 Dagger +7/+2 (1d4/19-20x2) [-2 Str +2 enchantment]
Ranged Light Crossbow +9 [+7 BAB +2 Dex] (1d8/19-20x2)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks darkness (Sp)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 14th):
1/day: darkness (DC 17)
Spells Known (CL 14th):
0th (6/day): daze (DC 15), detect magic (DC 15), ghost sound (DC 15), mage hand (DC 15), mending (DC 15), message (DC 15), prestidigitation (DC 15), read magic (DC 15), resistance (DC 15)
1st (8/day): alarm (DC 16), burning hands (DC 16), mage armor (DC 16), magic aura (DC 16), shield (DC 16)
2nd (7/day): alter self (DC 17), detect thoughts (DC 17), minor image (DC 17), see invisibility (DC 17), spectral hand (DC 17)
3rd (7/day): clairaudience/clairvoyance (DC 18), fly (DC 18), suggestion (DC 18), summon monster iii (DC 18)
4th (7/day): dimension door (DC 19), greater invisibility (DC 19), locate creature (DC 19), scrying (DC 19)
5th (7/day): break enchantment (DC 20), dominate person (DC 20), sending (DC 20)
6th (5/day): contingency (DC 21), flesh to stone (DC 21)
7th (3/day): grasping hand (DC 22)


Before Combat With her divinations, Elsie is almost certain to be able to buff ahead of time with the following spells (Extended if appropriate): greater invisibility, mage armor, mirror image, resistance, see invisibility, and shield. She may also use alter self to appear as someone else, and set up a minor image to try to get casters to waste spells against it.
During Combat Elsie casts against the opponent deemed most dangerous. Low Will save people get targeted with dominate person or related enchantments, low Fort save opponents get targeted with flesh to stone, and everybody else gets targeted with grasping hand.
Morale If Elsie falls below half health, she will escape using her boots of teleportation. She also has a contingent dimension door set up to move her to a nearby safe location as a free action should she need it.
Base Statistics Str 7 [8 roll -1 age], Dex 12 [10 roll +2 tiefling -1 age +1 leveling], Con 10 [11 roll -1 age], Int 12 [9 roll +2 tiefling +1 age], Wis 13 [12 roll +1 age], Cha 14 [13 roll -2 tiefling +1 age +2 leveling]


Str 7 [base], Dex 14 [12 base +2 gloves], Con 14 [10 base +4 amulet], Int 12 [base], Wis 13 [base], Cha 20 [14 base +6 cloak]
Base Atk +7/+2; Grp +5/+0 [+7 BAB -2 Str]
Feats Deceitful [level 1], Negotiator [level 3], Extend Spell [level 6], Silent Spell [level 9], Still Spell [level 12], Alertness [Familiar], Simple Weapon Proficiency [Sorcerer]
Skills Bluff +23 [13 rank +5 Cha +2 tiefling +3 Circlet], Concentration +19 [17 rank +2 Con], Diplomacy +12 [+5 Cha +2 synergy +2 Negotiator +3 Circlet], Disguise +10 [+5 Cha +2 Deceitful +3 Circlet] (+12 when acting in character) [+2 synergy], Forgery +3 [+1 Int +2 Deceitful], Gather Information +8 [+5 Cha +3 Circlet], Hide +4 [+2 Dex +2 tiefling], Intimidate +10 [+5 Cha +2 synergy +3 Circlet], Knowledge (Arcana) +6 [5 rank +1 Int], Knowledge (Local) +2 [1 rank +1 Int], Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) +2 [1 rank +1 Int], Listen +3 [+1 Wis +2 Alertness], Move Silently +5 [+2 Dex +3 cat familiar], Sense Motive +3 [+1 Wis +2 Negotiator], Spellcraft +13 [10 ranks +1 Int +2 synergy], Spot +3 [+1 Wis +2 Alertness], Use Rope +3 [1 rank +2 Dex]
Languages Common, Infernal
SQ Familiar, darkvision 60 ft., resistance to cold 5, electricity 5, and fire 5 [tiefling traits]
Combat Gear Wand of charm person, Wand of hold person, Wand of invisibility, Wand of mirror image, Boots of Teleportation, Dagger +2, Light Crossbow; Other Gear Amulet of Health +4, Circlet of Persuasion, Cloak of Charisma +6, Gloves of Dexterity +2, Ring of Mind Shielding, Ring of Protection +2


Summon Familiar (Ex) Orange tabby cat named Peaches
Tiefling Traits (Ex) Darkvision 60 ft., resistance to cold 5, electricity 5, and fire 5

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: Walter, Walter, Walter. What to do with this one? I really don't care for the format you use to present the information. I do like the idea, to some degree. There is conflict. I'm not sure if this is truly a villain, but it is close enough. This one lacks oomph. Something is missing. I am going to have to look more closely and think about this one. I do like the turn to stone then break hands idea.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Word count: 500.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

My immediate reaction is: Oh my god, we've got two little old lady villains. And I still have about eight left to read... Might there be three?

I find I kind of like Elsie, but I think it took until the bit where she nails hands to the walls and uses them to torment people via sending and message before it really clicked. That's pretty deep into the submission to have to dig to get to the "ah ha!" moment, and time is running out for that kind of flaw in this contest.

I like that she disguises her wands as knitting needles. The submission draws obvious comparison to Neil McClean's "Hetty" Miller, but I get a much better sense of Elsie's mannerisms and appearance than I did for Hattie.

That said, there are some problems. The writing, while competent, is not terribly inspiring. Think a bit more about word choice and cadence. Make people fall in love with your use of language (and know when to not layer it on too thick). I strongly disliked your use of jargon in the Tactics section, specifically the reference to "buffs" and the reference to "low-Will save people." There are more elegant ways to communicate these concepts.

But the biggest problem is conceptual. How do I use Elsie in my campaign? I get how I might put together a trail of hand-abductions that leads the PCs to her lair, but again that seems like basically one adventure. And that makes Elsie more of a bad guy than a villain.

It's weird to me that you used so many bullet points and mini-sections in this entry, but didn't include any that provided adventure hooks or ideas on how to use your villain in the campaign.

So, while there are parts of this I like, I'm going to have to withhold my endorsement. I do not recommend that this entry advance to the next round.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I'm changing my mind. I'm not sure this is really a villain. She is a problem for the PCs to solve if they care to. But she isnt really a villain. I just dont think this is enough. And I think that was the lack of oomph I was referring to, having thought about it. She is a murder mystery adventure. Not a villain.

My review to follow.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Villain Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, design choices, playability?): B
The Good: Evil little old lady is a bit cliché, but I think you pulled it off. I like the concept of this “villain”. The funny thing is Elsie is CR 15. I like that conflict between appearance and reality—this little old lady is a CR 15 NPC!
The Bad: Not sure this is actually a villain. She is a crime mystery adventure. That’s about it. There is no real urgency to her like there was in my opinion with Hetty. I mean, so they figure her out and she gets away and then what? Starts cutting off hands in another city? That isn’t a villain. Hard not to compare her to Hetty, and I think Elsie loses that comparison head-to-head in the villain category (though not toe to toe in the butt kicking category!).

Stat Block Execution (proper content, proper format, good math, generally mistake free?, not abusing word count?): B
The Good: I like her wands. I think you did something neat with her mechanically. She will certainly be a surprise. The flesh to stone is really fun.
The Bad: I’m with Erik. The meta-game jargon really smacked me in the face.

Description (quality of writing, hook?, theme?, organization, contains all mandatory content—physical description, motivation/goal, scheme/plot?): C
The Good: There is some good here. The wands. The hands used to scry and cause madness. Nice stuff.
The Bad: I really didn’t like how you presented the information in this entry. I think you should have teased us up front and then kept some text for the end, too. Ending with the stat block is a bad way to end. Plus the bullet points were weird. I thought the intro italics was some of your weakest writing, and it stresses how she is a crime mystery adventure and not a villain.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting?): C
The Good: Good crime adventure.
The Bad: Not a villain.

Overall: C+
A surprising little old lady with some interesting ideas, but in the end not a strong villain and not even the best “little old lady” villain we had.

Walter, I think your entries have been small steps backwards and you need to reverse that trend if you are lucky enough to advance. I loved your orb item. It was genius. The country was good, but had some issues. This villain has a nugget but the execution needs work. If you advance, you really need to bring it with something indisputably great. I am not sure you will get the chance, but if you do good luck!


The Exchange Kobold Press

In some ways, this is better than the other little old lady. There's a clear trail of hands, and you've given us those great knitting needles. Those are great images that will surely make DMs cackle with glee.

In most ways, though, "Hetty" works as well or better. At CR 15, it is hard to sustain a mystery or whodunnit adventure type, even with lots of counters. And Elsie does seem to be the bad guy of a short adventure, rather than a major campaign villain.

My main problem with Elsie is that her plots and goals are personal, and don't scale up. If she takes some hands, well, her next step is to take more hands. That's a monster-style pattern of behavior, where a villain typically takes some actions to enable a larger plan, or to achieve a larger goal.

I'm still pretty amused by the core concept of the knitting tiefling, and can see myself using her as an encounter in a Planescape game or certain types of urban settings. You may well advance into the next round, depending on how voters react to the "evil little ladies" slugfest. But I need to see some growth in the underlying concepts if you do.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Cruiser1

Thank you for your reviews and comments! Ack, first my underwater country is potentially "watered down" by a second water themed entry, and now I'm faced with a second little old lady in this round. Therefore, I request you all "lend me a hand" here (no pun intended ;) and vote for Elsie! :)

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka SmiloDan

I think this could benefit from zombie hand swarms.

Maybe make it even creepier by using flesh to stone, then stone shape, then stone to flesh. Kind of like the Re-Made in China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" novels. Maybe use a bit more artistry with the mutilations. Don't focus so much on the hands. Go for the eyes, ears, hair, mouth, teeth, and then get REALLY weird.

And maybe the PC's parents were the ones who falsely accused Elsie, and now she wants some payback. She targets the PCs. What's the fighter going to do when he doesn't have a hand to hold his sword with? Is the mouthless wizard going to prepare all her spells Silenced? Will the legless monk hobble along? Going directly at the PCs makes this EXTREMELY personal. The only thing worse than having your favorite PC killed off is having him RUINED.

And again, a CR 15 BBEG isn't for a 15th level party. It's for a 12th level party. Maybe even lower level if there are more than 4 PCs.

Dark Archive Dedicated Voter Season 9

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just to note that a +1 LA does NOT equal a +1 to CR, so she should still be CR 14. Examples of this in the SRD include the drow.

This concept is a one-trick pony. Unless the PCs are the rich and powerful that she targets, how do I use this villain in my campaign? "People all over town are missing hands...find and stop this menace!" I don't think that cuts it as CR 15 encounters or stories.

Quick Thoughts:
+1 for being cool and creepy serial "collector"
+1 for the hand use
-1 for being a tiefling (why?)
gets my last vote, because I keep seeing people without hands in my mind

I really like this entry, and the tiefling thing is my primary problem with it. It serves as an easy way for clever players to hone in on her, but doesn't get anything in return. Why can't she be an unbalanced normal human? Anyway, besides that, this is the one entry that's stuck with me the most. Great work!

Love the idea of people waking up without hands. Wish that wasn't all there was to it, though. Plus the WAY she does it just doesn't work mechanically. Breaking a peice off of a petrified person makes them impossible to restore. Using hold person and cutting off their hands is gonna' for sure wake them up! Hard to get past that, especially if the thing's a mystery story.

It also seems unfortunate that she's just leaving these severed hands nailed to the wall in her house. Seems like a recipe to get caught pretty quick by anyone with a nose.

Then there's the crazy thing. I wish less badguys were badguys because they're crazy. She went crazy when someone accused her of stealing *sigh*. I would really have prefered her to have an actual use for the hands, or at least a reason that's rooted more deeply in her psychology if it is to be that she absolutely HAS to be nutso. I just didn't buy it. I think that was the last nail in the coffin for me.

Plus I would want much much more story for a character who's supposed to be her level. I mean even at her age, level notwithstanding, I'd picture her being a pretty colorful person who's seen and done a lot.

I think rjjr has called out my biggest problem with this entry - there's a disconnect between the scope of Elsie's villainy and her challenge rating. Conceptually, I think she'd be a workable opponent for lower level characters, maybe in the 5-6 range. Unfortunately, given her mechanical implementation, by the time a party is capable of taking her in they're going to be after more consequential threats.

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

As unique as Elsie is, she isn't really a villain, she is an encounter. And I find it hard to see the powerful wizard reduced to solely collecting hands as revenge. If she has other projects, but is distracted by her sociopathic need to torture the rich and famous, that's depth and I like it. If the is involved in a lot of evil in the city, and her downfall is she gets caught..erm..red-handed...

Sorry. Will anyone believe that started innocently?

...then she is a villain. But those are my ideas.

Congrats on being top 16.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Sheyd

She's a cool Character, definately a one or two adventure problem for the party but I'm not certain she musters up to 'Villain' status.

Her reasons for being evil is a bit weak and her goals don't scale up well at all.

Her wand-knitting needles are cool though.

The lack of hooks is what bothered me the most. While she is a cool NPC I'm not certain I can vote for her.

My jaw dropped when I read this. I thought "This is... FIENDISH!"

Loved it. Plain and simple. The part about the knitting needles being wands? Priceless. The part that she uses the stolen hands (kudos on mentioning how she does it, that people just "wake up" with bloody stumps!) to scry on people and "gaslight" them into madness is just... sheer genius.

This would be a terrifying villain. I have a scenario already figured out in my head:

The PCs are hired to find out who's been stealing hands in this small town. So, they make their way to the local inn, run by none other than Elsie. As they investigate, she keeps chatting with them while knitting. And making them dinners, and generally being like a grandmother. And then, when they find out that it's Elsie (and if it were my group, that'd take a long time, simply because "it's too obvious!" that they'd discount it from happening) things would get terrifying quickly when she goes all fiendish and starts shooting off spells.

Yeah, brilliant. LOVED IT.

He he he he he he...

There were loads of problems, pointed out by other posters.
And I didn't quite get the transition from street orphan to respectable old lady in well-kept manor.

But still, he he he he he...

Cruiser1 wrote:
Every day you notice more victims, people with their hands cut off. Today even the mayor, who hired you to investigate, woke up to two bloody stumps. Who or what is doing this and why?

Great and interesting character. The writing drew me in. (Admittedly, I had the impression that she was much lower level at first than she actually is.) She has villainous, almost serial killer, qualities, but I'm not sure that she qualifies as truly a villain. She seems quite solitary and individual, and there's not much mention of minions.(I'm formulating a theory about this contest and villains.) It seems that the concept is really deep in the author's mind, and the format was not enough to get it all across.

This is the fourth entry that I've read so far.

Dark Archive

I like this idea much better as a low-level person. A young street thief who *still* has only one hand (and can claim to be a victim of the horrible hand-stealing brute, if the party runs into her, and send them off on some red herring to someone she hates, like the captain of the guard or some poncy noble) would be better, IMO.

She would still have sorcerous blood (as well as some Rogue levels), to the degree where she's mastered Sleep, and perhaps even Hold Person (for a higher level version). She skulks around town and Sleeps then poisons (Craft or Alchemy skill for that) anyone who has offended her sensibilities, then slices their right hand off (the poison would be a powerful anesthetic, allowing her to do this without waking her Sleeping target).

She would then lacquer the hands and keep them hidden away (no pesky smell of decay, and they'd 'keep' better). The hand collecting would happen to all sorts of people, ranging from 'that guy who looked at me funny yesterday' to 'that town's guardsman who was harassing the beggar kid' to 'that noble prat who keeps showing up in our section of town and loudly complaining about how bad we smell.'

At lowest level, it's Sleep, anesthetize, cut and run. At mid-level, it's Hold Person, wear all-concealing black robes, cut and run (with her getting a thrill from the fact that the Held person sees her walk up and saw his hand off, but can't do anything to stop her!).

At the level she's at, she should be passing laws that get people's hands cut off (and then bribing the guards on that duty to let her do it, or just to let her take the hands they 'collect'), not sneaking around at night with her big old zero Rogue levels doing it herself!

Sovereign Court

PRO/CONs for the win!


If Grand Theft Auto has taught me anything, it's there's anything more hilarious than strapping young thugs beating up old ladies, it's old ladies beating up strapping young thugs.

Choppin' off hands! Take that Fighter! And, as a reward, here's an awesome magic hook hand! Um. None of that's in the entry, but inspiring DMs should count for something, right?


My first mechanical complaint! If Elsie is an old lady, why didn't you apply Old or Venerable stat modifiers? They're in the SRD!

So, if the PCs never end up in Elsietown, why would they ever get involved? "I'm not losing MY hands!", they'll cry! "Send us against that ghost dude a few entries over! What's HE gonna do, slime us?"

A Tiefling? I shouldn't allow 4th edition marketing hate to cloud my judgement, but a freakin' Tiefling? NOT IN MY GAME, BUDDY!

Tch. No stats for Peaches? For shame. Stat block didn't have a word limit.

Decision: The pros seem kind of slight, honestly. Even ignoring my irrational tiefling hate, and leaving out my personally irrelevant mechanics complaints (given that I probably wouldn't use d20 with this villain), there's still the problem of the lack of "tentacles" - outside of her community, Elsie's nobody. Hell, even if she cuts off the KING'S hand, she's John Hinckley, Jr. when this round should be aiming for Otto Skorzeny.

Good character, and seriously, making your PCs beat up little old ladies is hilarious, but I probably won't vote yes on this one.

cappadocius wrote:

PRO/CONs for the win!

My first mechanical complaint! If Elsie is an old lady, why didn't you apply Old or Venerable stat modifiers? They're in the SRD!

It is a good point, but I guess you could say that'd be because there are no SRD age tables for Tieflings, and a tight reading of the SRD would suggest that they don't age, sort of what is implied for outsiders in general.

Notes: Little old lady that is a high level sorcerer. Collects hands. 1 trick pony - not enough motivation involving characters and epic focus. The process of turn to stone etc... is too much, not very believable and probably the reason she had to be so high level. Good creepiness, good wands. Writing sloppy sometimes.

I liked the flavor of this entry better before I read the comments. It might be a bit unfair, but seeing the twist Set suggested on the basic concept really highlighted just how much better this idea could have been than it ended up.

How does someone wake up to discover their hands have been cut off? I have a feeling you'd realise if someone was cutting your hands off whilst you slept.

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

This starts off very much like a dream sequence. I wonder if it ever ceases to be so.

Elsie started as a tiefling street thief, got hold of enough gold for a regenerate and now she's a respected little old lady whose past no-one thinks to question. Having made this impressive social climb, she's just started cutting people's hands off. This really needs at least an attempt to explain it.

The stat block has some technical problems, which are minor but show a worrying lack of attention.

I'm going to exclude this because I just can't get my head around her background.

Marathon Voter Season 9

Nice! You've got my vote!

Sovereign Court

Several posters are right, esp. Grimcleaver. Why does she have to be crazy? Why does she have to be a tiefling?
Also, as someone points out, her goals don't scale up.
This is a really cool idea, but not a top 8.


This one got my vote of four. After reading all of the "villians" three characters stuck out in my mind and this was one of them. Of course I pictured her rocking in a chair, knitting rugs along with over 100 animated hands also knitting. Talk about cheap labor!!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 aka adanedhel9

You've got some great imagery in your entry - the knitting wands, the wall of hands, the little old lady beating the PC's...

But I don't think it all holds together. The big thing is that she's a one-trick pony. If all she ever does is steal hands, then she's just an insane bad lady. If she had started on hands, and had graduated up to larger projects, she could be a real villain.

You've already got her set up as a social climber with a lot of influence on her community; it's not a big jump from that to a power-hungry demon who's really running the show. Sure, it's a little cliche, but then you could've put some real meat on Elsie's bones - and you wouldn't even have to get rid of the hands component.

Watch your sentance variety: your first few paragraphs read as stilted and repetative to me. You seem to get more into the flow towards the end of the entry, though. Oh, and enchantments pretty much imply moral dilemmas; I don't think you needed to specify that.

So what you've got here is a very good adventure, one that I might even use. But I don't see much of a villian.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Cruiser1

I'd like to "give a hand" (no pun intended ;) to the top 8 on and wish them the best of luck in future rounds! :)

Clark Peterson wrote:
I really don't care for the format you use to present the information.

I formatted my country the same way, with subheadings and bullet points. I found this feedback interesting, especially since you said the opposite when reviewing my country: "Right off the bat I like the format choices you have made—good sections, bullet points. That is a design decision and you did a good job." Of course, the best way to present a country isn't necessarily the best way to present a villain.

Clark Peterson wrote:
I'm not sure if this is truly a villain, but it is close enough.

I consider Elsie to meet the definition of "villain" as defined in the Round 3 rules:

  • Is a unique NPC;
  • Is an individual creature or entity;
  • Is as much a plot device as an encounter;
  • Is an antagonist for the PCs;
  • Does not have to be a final boss, but he/she/it must be more than just a simple henchman;
  • Must be capable of being a proactive opponent, not simply reactive;
  • Must be capable of independent thought and be able to both come up with plans and take actions to thwart the PCs.

    Elsie's unique, and an individual. She's mainly a plot device, where actually fighting her in an encounter only happens at the end after quite a bit of storyline. She antagonizes the PC's, by targeting them and/or secretly befriending them. She's the final boss of her manor. She's certainly proactive when hunting people or the PC's. And she thinks independently when spying on the PC's or otherwise interfering with them.

    Her scale is admittedly local instead of some take over the world scheme, and I did choose to design a temporary villain for a few sessions (like in the WOTC adventure downloads) instead of some master villain that spans the PC's careers from level 1-20.

    Clark Peterson wrote:
    I think you should have teased us up front and then kept some text for the end, too. Ending with the stat block is a bad way to end.

    As you said in another thread, the villain makes the stat block, and not the other way around. Stats are just numbers, and are nothing more than clutter until you've got the feel of the villain, hence I chose to put the stat block at the very end, and the most important content at the beginning.

    Erik Mona wrote:
    didn't include any that provided adventure hooks or ideas on how to use your villain in the campaign.

    Although not prefaced with an "adventure hooks" heading, the opening two sentences of the entry are an adventure idea. The intro italics of course also double as the all important attention grabber.

    Ernest Mueller wrote:

    Quick Thoughts:

    -1 for being a tiefling (why?)
    gets my last vote, because I keep seeing people without hands in my mind

    Elsie certainly doesn't have to be a tiefling, however I chose to make her one for a couple reasons: (1) Elsie hides her fiendishness, so nobody will be aware that she's a tiefling until a dramatic reveal. For example, the PC's confront her and she dismisses Alter Self, or the Monk grapples her dislodging her hair net revealing the pointed horns underneath. (2) Also, since part of the round is stat block execution, I wanted something more interesting there than just a human sorcerer, hence I used an alternate race so I could at least include (Ex) abilities, various skill bonuses, etc.

    Grimcleaver wrote:
    Breaking a peice off of a petrified person makes them impossible to restore.

    No, you can break pieces off of a petrified person and still restore them. The SRD entry for Flesh to Stone says, "If the statue resulting from this spell is broken or damaged, the subject (if ever returned to its original state) has similar damage or deformities. The creature is not dead, but it does not seem to be alive either when viewed with spells such as deathwatch." It's the perfect spell to cast on someone while they're asleep so they can wake up to a rude surprise. :)

    Grimcleaver wrote:
    It also seems unfortunate that she's just leaving these severed hands nailed to the wall in her house. Seems like a recipe to get caught pretty quick by anyone with a nose.

    The hands are hidden down in the basement of a large manor. You won't smell anything until you get close to the right spot. This is designed to be used in another dramatic reveal. The PC's confront Elsie and she flees downstairs, or the PC's suspect her and secretly snoop around at night. Eventually they reach the right spot and smell something horrible, and then turn the corner and see all these severed hands on the wall! This could be combined with a creepy Minor Illusion of a disembodied hand, beckoning the PC's to come closer. ;)

    cappadocius wrote:

    My first mechanical complaint! If Elsie is an old lady, why didn't you apply Old or Venerable stat modifiers?

    I put Elsie in one of the later age categories, which can be seen in her base stats. Even at age 52, a human is still in the "middle age" category. In medieval times, you were old at age 30. Also, as another person mentioned, it's undefined how being a tiefling affects one's aging. Hence I just applied one age category to the default tiefling stats and called it done.

    cappadocius wrote:

    No stats for Peaches? For shame. Stat block didn't have a word limit.

    Check out the Round 3 rules. They explicitly say, "You are not allowed to provide separate stat blocks for these types of creatures. You only get to provide a stat block for your villain. While we know that bad guys often have these sorts of hangers-on, this round is about designing a villain."

  • Sczarni

    Kobold Cleaver wrote:
    Nice! You've got my vote!

    This one in my opinion should have made it. Too many of the 8 are all jacked up CR 15, immense stat blocks/powers and no imagination. This was my favorite of all 16 as far as creativity. As a DM I don't want huge stat blocks to control, I want my imagination to overcome theirs. That is how you create epic battles that PC's remember for a long time. Shame this one did not make it. You have my apologizes and admiration.

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