Gibnem, aka Elric the Miller


Round 2: Create a villain concept

1 to 50 of 72 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Gibnem, aka Elric the Miller
Male Spirit

DESCRIPTION:
Elric the Miller appears to be a perfectly normal elderly human gentleman of average appearance and modest stature. He runs a watermill which is perched just upstream from thundering waterfalls at the south end of a remote valley. In reality, he is a powerful and unimaginably ancient spirit-being, and those who know his true nature call him Gibnem, although that is not his true name, either. He is bound to the inhabitants of the hidden valley where he lives, and holds great power over the valley and all within it. However, he is compelled to use his considerable powers to the benefit of his people, and cannot leave them without being greatly diminished or even destroyed. The bulk of Gibnem's powers are permanently focused on keeping his people safe and healthy and on causing their crops to grow bountifully, which leaves him with relatively little power for other purposes such as imposing his will. He is also completely unable to wield his powers beyond the physical boundaries of his valley.

MOTIVATIONS/GOALS:
Gibnem does not desire to expand his influence beyond his valley, but only to continue his existence indefinitely. As a result of Gibnem's boons, his people enjoy a nearly utopian lifestyle. However, this aid comes at a terrible price: each year after the Rites of Passage, one of the new adults is kidnapped and sacrificed to sustain Gibnem and fuel his powers. Most of the valley's residents are completely unaware of Elric the Miller's true nature, and are equally ignorant of the sacrifices—the missing individuals are assumed to have wandered too far afield and either succumbed to the elements or been killed by monsters or wild animals. Only a handful of elders know the dark truth behind their otherwise blissful lifestyle. Gibnem is unable to directly harm those born within his valley, so the entire process of kidnapping and sacrifice must be carried out by the elders. For Gibnem to gain the maximum possible benefit from the sacrifices, it is important that all of the valley's inhabitants participate willingly, even if in ignorance. As part of the annual harvest celebration, a raft is piled high with produce and sent over the waterfalls at the south end of the valley as a sacrifice to “the spirit of the valley.” Only the elders know that a confused and frightened teenager lies bound and gagged under the huge pile of food. Above all else, Gibnem desires to keep this secret and to keep his people trapped and isolated in their valley.

SCHEMES/PLOTS/ADVENTURE HOOKS:
Adventurers might accidentally stumble upon Gibnem's valley or might be drawn there by a variety of mechanisms either magical or mundane. Once there, they could be asked to help find a missing family member—who happens to be that year's sacrifice. When their investigations would cause them to discover the truth, they would be forced to choose: save the child, or preserve the utopia.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

People, Google exists for a reason. And no that reason is not to find cartoon porn. The real reason Google exists is to find out if the names of your characters have already been taken!

Elric. You just can't use that name.

Just like you can't use Sauron. Or even Azrael (if you dont know that last one, look it up! I'll give you a clue: SMURF; let's see what that does to my avatar).

Contributor

Initial Impression: Okay, lose the name. I know who Elric is, and this guy isn’t Elric. “Gibnem”? Sigh. Now I know why you went with Elric.

Concept: So he’s a place-spirit, and keeps his valley green at the cost of an annual blood sacrifice. I’m not sure this makes him a villain, if he’s “bound” into his role (and, BTW, I’d like to know by whom and what the limits of what he’s “compelled” to do are). No, I’m not idly curious; I’m a DM seeking vital roleplaying information that should be here.

Execution: So is the sacrifice a “new adult” (as it says first in the submission) or a “child” (as it says later)? If the “elders” do all the annual dirty work, I need to know who and what (stats) they are, and I need to know what aid the spirit can give them (or use himself) in a battle with PCs. Gibnem can certainly be an opponent of the PCs in a battle to prevent one of the sacrifices or for control of the valley, but again, I’m not sure this makes him a villain, just a bound servitor. I’m not trying to argue ethics, here, I’m pointing at the fact that if he’s bound to service by someone or something more powerful, we need to know about them - - as in, will they swoop down to fight the PCs, too? - - and a lot more about Gibnem’s character, too; is he content with his role? Does HE see it as “right”? (After all, hiding the sacrifice from the people may be to keep them happier [that is, their lives better] than if they knew about the sacrifices, not necessarily, from his viewpoint, to hide something he “knows” is bad/evil/a crime.) I get into these waters because a nature deity that takes life (an inevitable part of nature, after all) need not be inherently evil for doing so, and a compelled servitor can be seen the same way. I need to know how Gibnem thinks and feels about it.

Tilt: There’s word count not used, here, and some vital matters it should have been used on. Such as what Gibnem’s powers are, both in combat and more long-term nature stuff. (If he can control the weather in the valley, for example, a DM can have him do that in such a severe way that the PCs can never even reach him, after they’ve been blown flat to the ground and pinned there by winds, frozen by a sudden ice storm and stuck to the ground, then crushed and shattered by the rolling boulders of an avalanche . . . and their remains swallowed by a chasm that opens in the earth and then closes “above” them, so the valley-dwellers never even know the PCs were there at all. Hmm, not much of a fight, was it?)
Again, it’s crucial that the DM get to know Gibnem’s viewpoint, too. (Remember the apple-throwing trees in the WIZARD OF OZ movie? Unpleasant, yes, and affected by the evil witch, but don’t forget they were wronged by the good guys first, who picked an apple off one of them.) Otherwise I don’t know how best to roleplay him. Is he a smothering “We LOVE you” sort, or a ruthless killer in defense of his valley?

Overall: I’m intrigued by Gibnem, but I’m not given enough detail in this submission to be able to run Gibnem in play, or even understand him. So this one fails, for me.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: The name got me right off. And I guess I don’t know what a spirit is. So I’m concerned going in.

Word Count: 494.

Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, overall design choices, playability): D-
The Bad: Boring concept because he only wants to stay in his little valley. Insular villains who don’t want to do anything or go anywhere are not the best choice. Plus this spirit thing is just weird and not in a good way. Frankly, I think this guy violates the design restrictions on the contest. This thing is like some kind of demi-god or something. I don’t see this thing as a CR 20 or less creature. He is some weird spiritual force.

Execution (quality of writing, hook, theme, organization, use of proper format, quality of mandatory content-physical description, motivation/goal, scheme/plot, presence of any disqualification criteria): D-
The Bad: There are a lot of problems. First, I don’t think this is a villain within the design limits of the contest, as I mention above. Then, there are simply no legitimate details about him. The fact that he doesn’t really do anything is another problem. Both of these are highlighted in your Hooks quote: “Adventurers might accidentally stumble upon Gibnem's valley or might be drawn there by a variety of mechanisms either magical or mundane.” Right. That is the part YOU are supposed to provide, not me. That’s like having a heading called Hooks and writing: “The DM can create various ways to bring the PCs into contact with him.” That was what you were supposed to do.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting): D
I don’t know that you ever found your real villain idea with this. It is a seed of an idea. But you never got into the details of it. And I still think this spirit is not within the restrictions of the contest.

Overall: D
A undefined spirit that doesn’t want to leave its valley. Pass.

Recommendation: I DO NOT recommend this villain submission for advancement.

From the guy who brought us the ethereal tether, which I loved quite a bit! I wish you luck and hope the voters see it differently than I did!

Contributor

Hmm, and this is the second "protector of the valley that requires sacrifices"-themed villain this year.

Not particularly villainous, just like the other one.

Rec: do not advance.

The Exchange Kobold Press

I could repeat what the other judges have said, but there's no point. The sights on this one are adjusted too low (Elric? A place spirit?).

This premise might make a fine short story, but there's not enough longevity and malice here to truly challenge the PCs.

If you want to advance in RPG Superstar, you need more than that.

Recommendation Not recommended.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

Yeah, I can see a cool plot being involved with the overall thrust of this guy--sort of a "The Lottery", Wicker Man sort of thing--but Gibnem himself doesn't actually do anything. He could be completely fictional within the context of the story and have the exact same role in the game. Pass.

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

OTOH the S-word did give Clark an appropriate image, so we should be thankful for that. :-)

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

Reckless Ratings

Concept2
(Is this villain villainous?)
Content3
(Grammar, Format,Spelling, Etc.)
Coolness1
(Would my players be impressed by this? Am I?)
Credibility2
(Does the villain’s motives make sense?)
Clarity1
(How good a sense of how to stat this villain do we get?)

Scores out of 5 and completely based on my opinion only.
Total Score9

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Name choice, not good (I keep wanting to anagram Gibnem [Big Men?] which is distracting) and Elric is definitely not this guy.

I can't see why _he's_ the villain ... seems to me it's the elders that deal into the whole thing, allowing the yearly murder to keep things happy. Plus, if all the folks in the valley must buy in, I don't see how the poor kid on the raft is buying this at that point in his soon to be ended life.

Can't get behind this one, sorry.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

Lucas, "redact" your comments. You are saying too much at this point! :(

Star Voter Season 6

One would think that the parents of the teen sacrifice would know that he's missing. And his friends. And his neighbors. And the village busybody. In village culture, unless everybody's in on it, it's hard to get away with it.


It's been said already, but for me, a pre-requisite of any villain is that I need somewhere to go as a GM if the PCs decide to turn around and walk away. In this case, this just isn't there. The concept of a powerful spirit just isn't enough to overcome its stay-at-home nature. If the townsfolk were all willing participants in the blood sacrifice who would venture out of the area to find sacrifices, that might serve to bring the PCs in, but even then they might just slaughter the townsfolk and wander away.

CR


This idea made me think that the author had just finished reading _The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas_ by Ursula Leguin which is a really great (and terrible)short story. Gibnem reminds me of Geb or some of the other simple names and true names she uses in earth-sea. Of course when I saw the name Elric I was almost afraid to see the Judge's comments.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka kid america

Lucas I loved your reply, and second it.

I think I suffered the same pitfall you did. How do you condense pages of notes on your villain into 1,500 to 2,000 words, and then trim that down to 500 words. Especially without the stat block this year. It is indeed a daunting undertaking. And after reading all the judges comments on the 32 villains submitted, only a handful (six) seemed to have lived up to that challenge.

Like the immortal British army we shall soldier on with quiet dignity in the face of adversity.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Mark Thomas 66

Guys, this much explanation can get you DQ'd edit quick.

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

Elric? Wow. Can't say anything more on that :)

This would be a great villain for a Scifi channel movie of the week. And probably a powerful story villain for an adventure involving people moving into the valley, and uncovering the mystery, assuming the players weren't already familiar with this plot element (the chosen victim is pretty common in fantasy/horror, which I probably don't need to tell the audience). But it's not what I want to see in an entry I'd vote for. The godlike power level (at least implied) is another strike, and skirts the rules for the contest.

Thanks for the effort. It's rough getting public feedback. But win or lose, it'll help you grow as an author.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Lucas, if I was you I would edit your posts and basically delete everything except "thanks for your comments and vote for my villain!"

You can get DQ'd for this.

Clark

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

I've suppressed Lucas's posts.

Lucas, feel free to thank people for their comments, but save the defending of your design until after voting has closed, please.

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

Grab: No
Useful: No

Vote: No

Marathon Voter Season 9

I like the idea and the name really doesn't bother me. Yes he shares a name with Elric of Melniboné, but I can keep two people with the same first name seperate in my head. I mean, my current Table top group has three people called Ben in it.

It has a Wicker man thing going on and is in many ways what i think most druidic gods and goddesses should be like, however to be honest, it doesn't really have the meet on its bones I would like to see. Sorry.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8

You never heard of Elric of Melniboné? Theres like 6 books on the guy, and he is a fantasy icon.

Wow, that's like naming your villain Elminster Jackson. Why would you shoot yourself in the foot like that? I also have the OCD like habit of spelling names backwards checking for hidden meaning and MenBig almost seems intentional.

No vote, sorry.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

Winterwalker wrote:

Wow, that's like naming your villain Elminster Jackson.

Damn, now I have the mental image of a Realmsploitation movie stuck in my head. "Elminster Jackson is here! To break heads, to take names, and to love the lovely ladies..."

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter Season 6 aka raidou

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
Realmsploitation

... and with a single word, a whole new subgenre of fanfiction was born.

Dark Archive

Not to pile onto the criticism too much, but this villain also reminds me of a section of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods." Basically, a spirit there uses secret murders to prevent a small town from slipping into economic decay, with some of the townsfolk complicit in the situation to preserve the status quo.


PulpCruciFiction wrote:
Not to pile onto the criticism too much, but this villain also reminds me of a section of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods." Basically, a spirit there uses secret murders to prevent a small town from slipping into economic decay, with some of the townsfolk complicit in the situation to preserve the status quo.

Nice to know I'm not the only one who was getting "American Gods" vibes off this.


PulpCruciFiction wrote:
Not to pile onto the criticism too much, but this villain also reminds me of a section of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods." Basically, a spirit there uses secret murders to prevent a small town from slipping into economic decay, with some of the townsfolk complicit in the situation to preserve the status quo.

Oh yeah, that guy.

I'm still thinking more Wicker Man. "Summer is icumen in..."

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
Winterwalker wrote:

Wow, that's like naming your villain Elminster Jackson.

Damn, now I have the mental image of a Realmsploitation movie stuck in my head. "Elminster Jackson is here! To break heads, to take names, and to love the lovely ladies..."

Hee hee.

"Sucker. Don't you be knowing that your magic missiles be blocked by my big ass shield spell here? Fool! don't waste my time! Shazam - Lightning Bolt"

I can see him kicking in tavern doors now and taking names. He of course would also be trained in Karate and be topless just about every scenario fighting waves of inept ninjas with only his two ebon fists.

Zombieneighbours wrote:

I like the idea and the name really doesn't bother me. Yes he shares a name with Elric of Melniboné, but I can keep two people with the same first name seperate in my head. I mean, my current Table top group has three people called Ben in it.

It has a Wicker man thing going on and is in many ways what i think most druidic gods and goddesses should be like, however to be honest, it doesn't really have the meet on its bones I would like to see. Sorry.

Three Ben's is not the same as 2 Elric's, 2 Sauron's, or even 1 Elminster Jackson though. I doubt all their PC names are Ben though. (my group has 3 Bill's btw.)

Out of any name he could of used, this was a poor choice.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8

Clark Peterson wrote:


Just like you can't use Sauron. Or even Azrael (if you dont know that last one, look it up! I'll give you a clue: SMURF; let's see what that does to my avatar).

The man wields strange and unnatural powers. SMURF


Lucas:
I know you paid attention to what people said with the Ethereal Tether, and provided a rewrite later, and I get the impression that you've put quite a bit of thought into this entry, but what you've selected to show to the judges and public doesn't really say 'villain'. This bound spirit could be up there with Kazavon or the Runelords for badness and villainy- his commiting unspeakable evils in the dim and distant past might have been what resulted in his being bound in perpetuity to the valley as some kind of punishment in the first place- but you didn't tell us about that.

We don't even know what sort of offensive powers he has (or if indeed he has any) to use against those trying to mess with his valley or the annual rituals which keep him fueled up.

I'll cut to my closing question and wrap this post up.

Will this villain cause the PCs grief?
Unclear.

Liberty's Edge

Elric is to big a name for a... Miller...

aside of that... Where is my Villain?

In Exalted this could be one of thousands of petty spirits... except they don't hide... depending the placesame happens with Golarion...

sorry Lucas, I did loved your Ethereal Tether


2/10

Uninteresting, cliche, and plot device. Three strikes.


I'll admit...

I've never heard of Elric (of Melnibone) either. So, I can, without a doubt, say that I have learned something in this contest, even though I did not advance. Google any names you want to use. Got it.

Thank You, Clark Peterson, for the advise.

Now, I can excuse the name, considering I MIGHT have made the same mistake. And I do assume it was a mistake, and you didn't know the name had been used. However, this was not a good submission. The premise behind villan is too close to the movie "Dragonslayer" (great movie, considering the technology of the time).

Dragonslayer spoiler:

Spoiler:
In Dragonslayer, The townsfolk hold a lottery every year for the girls that "come of age". The one selected gets sacraficed to the dragon, so that the rest can live in peace.

Also, A villan that's bound to a valley doesn't pose much of a threat to the PC's. They can just leave, and thats the end of the threat. Thats a likely outcome if most of your PC's are "the ends justify the means" guys. You also shouldn't use terms like "might accidentlally" or "could be asked". It's too hypothetical. I want to know what DOES happen.

I'm beginning to see a disturbing trend of impotent, couch potato villans.

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

Yeesh. The death lottery is much older than Dragonslayer. Try googling "The Lottery" for a version of that tale from 1948. And I don't think it started there :)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

The name "Elric" wasn't coined by Michael Moorcock: He used an Old English name for his albino antihero. Still, a quick Google search would have revealed the issue and suggested effective alternates such as Alaric, Aelfric, or Eldred. A more ominous name than Gibnem would also have been wise.

Disappointingly, this villain missed the mark by inches. A few changed details would make him much more malevolent and nasty.

For countless eons, the bloodthirsty river spirit Gib’nem has devoured the souls of those who dwell in its isolated valley. The vale’s secretive villagers propitiate its black thirst with human sacrifices, stealthily abducting innocents from nearby lands. Chained to a massive slab of granite at the riverside, their bones soon join the heaps of algae-crusted remains littering the riverbed.

Gib’nem’s cruel hunger often demands more precious sacrifices, lives chosen from the folk of the valley. The village elders then grimly draw lots, choosing which of the villagers will die upon the stone of sacrifice. These sacrifices are richly rewarded: While other lands suffer famine, their crops prosper, unnaturally bountiful and free of disease. Gib’nem watches over the villagers, protecting their large families from pestilence so that they can better serve his needs.

The dark spirit sometimes walks among his thralls, accepting their fawning homage. Clad in human guise, he names himself Aelric the Miller when strangers are present. Tottering through the village on arthritic limbs, the creature seems a feeble, harmless ancient. Few see the evil hidden in “the Miller’s” rheumy eyes.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Sir_Wulf wrote:

The name "Elric" wasn't coined by Michael Moorcock: He used an Old English name for his albino antihero. Still, a quick Google search would have revealed the issue and suggested effective alternates such as Alaric, Aelfric, or Eldred. A more ominous name than Gibnem would also have been wise.

Disappointingly, this villain missed the mark by inches. A few changed details would make him much more malevolent and nasty.

For countless eons, the bloodthirsty river spirit Gib’nem has devoured the souls of those who dwell in its isolated valley. The vale’s secretive villagers propitiate its black thirst with human sacrifices, stealthily abducting innocents from nearby lands. Chained to a massive slab of granite at the riverside, their bones soon join the heaps of algae-crusted remains littering the riverbed.

Gib’nem’s cruel hunger often demands more precious sacrifices, lives chosen from the folk of the valley. The village elders then grimly draw lots, choosing which of the villagers will die upon the stone of sacrifice. These sacrifices are richly rewarded: While other lands suffer famine, their crops prosper, unnaturally bountiful and free of disease. Gib’nem watches over the villagers, protecting their large families from pestilence so that they can better serve his needs.

The dark spirit sometimes walks among his thralls, accepting their fawning homage. Clad in human guise, he names himself Aelric the Miller when strangers are present. Tottering through the village on arthritic limbs, the creature seems a feeble, harmless ancient. Few see the evil hidden in “the Miller’s” rheumy eyes.

Well, when you put it that way, of course it sounds better.

Seriously: thank you very much! This is the most constructive feedback I've received so far. You've taught me a lot with this brief little descrption, and demonstrated why you went further than I probably will.

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

Elric = you just can't do it. It's too iconic a fantasy character.

But the real WTF moment came with lines like these:

Gibnem does not desire to expand his influence beyond his valley.

Adventurers might accidentally stumble upon Gibnem...

So... as long as the adventurers don't accidentally stumble upon him, he'll never come out of Happy Valley and do bad stuff?

In the campaign, Gibnem is not a villain, he's a terrain feature. He's part of the backstory for the valley. He can work fine as an adversary in the right kind of adventure, but maybe the missing piece of so many villains is that they must Must MUST have at least the potential to do something outside the scope of their lair. They need to be able to exit the box in Room #17 at the end of the adventure and do something. If they escape death at the hands of the PCs, what do they do next? What do they do after the module is over?

To be a good villain, I think there needs to be at least the possibility of being a recurring villain. Someone who can plague the PCs before they even know he exists and after they thought they were done with him.


Russ Taylor wrote:
Yeesh. The death lottery is much older than Dragonslayer. Try googling "The Lottery" for a version of that tale from 1948. And I don't think it started there :)

You could say that. :-) It's basically the plot of the Legend of Saint George and the Dragon, which is from the 11th century.


I don't see a way for this villain to be a thorn in the PCs' sides for multiple adventures.

Also, you could make the case that the true villains are the elders who enable this situation...

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

I started the second column of "villains" looking for someone to step forward and show me just a few things:

an imagination
that they read last year's entries and didn't make the same mistakes
a wee bit of DM craft
the wisdom to build a villain based on what players think, and not on some walled-in fairy tale that doesn't fit easily into a campaign.

This is not a criticism of you personally, but I just think yours is the bottom of the bunch so far. It has all the tragic mistakes you should have already been aware of. He sits on his butt. No DM can do anything with him without a lot of homework. We're not in his head. He's not even evil. HUndreds of fictional (and real) societies have regularly sacrificed their own to stave off the destruction of everyone. The might be ignorant, savage or barbaric, but they are not evil.

A quality villain doesn't have to be evil. I'm not saying that. But he has to be mobile, ambitious, powerful. I can't think of a worse phrase to describe a victim than "he has virtually no power beyond what it takes to yada yada". Your prose is...fair. But he is so nebulous that he isn't even a character in a game. "Spirit"? That's a type of monster in Rokugan, but other than than, it has no mechanical value. He is completely undefined.

I have picked up here that you say pages and pages of notes were condensed to a mere 500 words, but I have to say again. This guy is flawed at conception. If a chef serves a bad cut of steak with the wrong seasoning and the wrong wine, the chef has no business saying "I didn't have time to cook it." In this case, you had 23 days. More if you prepared the magic item enty early and spent the holiday eating pumpkin pie and developing villain concepts. Time wasn't the problem. Condensing wasn't the problem. I feel strongly that if I had ten pages of this guy, I wouldn't read them all.

Now, I know I have been a little more scathing than some this round. But please choose to use that constructively. It isn't personal. If you want to be a designer, do some research and prepare. Google your names. Or make (hopefully) clever acronyms of Paizo staffers so you know no one has used your name before.

Cours,e Josh won't use any of the scenarios with those names in them. I gotta try harder and do better.

And so do you. You have a year til RPGS 2010. You have time to submit to open calls, get on the slush pile for other companies. But you have got to learn from your critics, and learn from the successful models. What made your favorite villain villainous? WHat kind of motivator spooks you in movies and books. Learn to give us something that, in a way, is already inside us, and you'll really strike a chord and go far.

Hope that's helpful. Better luck next year.

Star Voter Season 7

I also thought of the old man from Gaiman's "American Gods," but I saw that as a positive, since I think Gaiman is an amazing author(If you're going to borrow, borrow from the best, I say!) I've been sorely tempted to run such a villian, so I like what was attempted here.


The fact that the name is ripped off from such a famous work of fantasy literature is a major count against it, right there. Other than that... well, OK, possibly an interesting idea, but it's just not fleshed out enough to be really inspiring. This would be a random we-wandered-past-this-place encounter, not anything truly memorable, and I don't see how he can be a long-lasting villain. This could have been much better, but as it is, it won't get one of my votes.

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

I can't think of anything to comment on that hasn't been said. If you want some examples of villains that are place spirits, I'd recommend Gregory Keyes The Waterborn and Blackgod.


People seem to me quite harsh on this one :

While not conform to what the examiners may expect, the idea can provide a evening of play : a scenario in the Ravenloft or Cudgel spirit, with potential for exploration, rich interaction with NPC, investigation, fight, maybe moral dilemna.
Not so common, and maybe more useful than another ready-to-be-transformed-in-statblock lich lord.


"Wheat and chaff for my Lord Arioch!" - I can only reiterate what others have said re: what is a 'spirit'? 'What is that makes him a villain?" etc

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Vic says we're cleared to post, so I'd like to reply to some of this feedback. First, I'd like to thank everyone who gave me feedback here, especially the judges who put so much time into this competition. Second, I'd like to apologize to everyone again for breaking the rules about posting in my own thread.

I've used a lot of this feedback to develop a revised version of Gibnem, which I am going to post here (in a separate post immediately after this one). I would really appreciate further feedback on the revised villain. I would be especially grateful if any of the judges could take the time to look at my attempt at salvaging this villain: am I on to something here, or is this concept so terribly flawed that I should just dump it? Or, am I just so bad at this that I should just give up on the idea of doing game design in a professional/semi-pro capacity?

Before I post my revised villain, I'd like to take some time to explain some of my design choices, especially the names. I started with many times the word-limit for this concept, and pared it down. At first I thought about just dumping everything here, but I decided instead to post a new 500-word write-up for two reasons: First, I forgot to back up the original material, so all of it was lost as I cut out big chunks to get my submission down to size (a mistake which I will not repeat in the future), and I'm really not in the mood to re-write all of it. Second, I think that keeping the revised version within the 500-word limit would be a better exercise for me, and would make people more likely to take the time to read and respond.

The revised version of Gibnem actually just describes him at an earlier point in his story, before he came to the valley and established a relationship with the people there. This is the exact same character as before, I'm just providing different details about him, details which I think address most of the problems cited in the feedback.

My original desire for this villain was to create something reminiscient of medieval fairy tales. Not the happy-kiddy-tinkerbell Disney fairy tales of modern times, but the dark and superstitious fairy tales of the middle ages. I wanted something like Rumpelstiltskin: a magical creature with dark, unkowable motives; who makes dark bargains; a creature who does not fit into the neat, Tolkien-esque definitions of "elves" and "dwarves" and "goblins" and "trolls," whose very nature is mysterious; an amoral creature with great magical power, but who nonetheless follows certain rules.

I was also inspired by a description I once read of the Astral plane, where giant statues float in the void: the slow-dreaming husks of forgotten gods, made impotent by a lack of worshipers. I always wondered: "If gods can shrivel up and die from lack of worship, there must be a steady supply of new gods rising up from somewhere--perhaps by gaining worshippers. Maybe they start as powerful spirits, elevate into demigods, and then on up to full godhood." I wanted to explore this idea of proto-gods by combining it with the ill-defined creatures of medieval superstition.

Ragwaine wrote:
This idea made me think that the author had just finished reading _The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas_ by Ursula Leguin which is a really great (and terrible)short story.

I needed a context for my spirit-being, and this story was one of my two biggest inspirations for setting. I haven't read it in years, but I have read it many times, and it's one of my favorites. I have a hardcover copy of of The Wind's Twelve Quarters (the anthology in which "Omelas" was printed) on my bookshelf. Plenty of other people mentioned stories of which Gibnem reminded them, so it's clear that "sacrificing the innocent for the benefit of the community" is a relatively common theme in fiction. I think that LeGuin's form of sacrifice is actually a greater form of evil than simple murder, but it didn't feel right for D&D: I wanted someone in mortal peril for the PCs to save, and a finite timeline for them to do so.

My other big inspiration for setting was M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," which gave me the idea for the elders keeping a fundamental secret from the rest of the community. I also had [more malicious and dangerous] boogey-men to keep the people trapped in their valley, but they ended up on the cutting room floor.

Finally, and most importantly: names. Gibnem's alter-ego was supposed to be a seemingly harmless, trustworthy old man--a grandfatherly figure--and his "human" name was meant to re-inforce that theme: I took the German word "Ehrlich," which means "honorable" or "honest," anglicized it, transposed a couple of letters, and ended up with "Erlic." Needless to say, the pre-associations many people assign to that name completely undermine my intent here. I'm definitely going to be using Google in the future. I got "Gibnem" from the German phrase "Der Herr Gott Nimmt, der Herr Gott Gibt," which translates as, "The Good Lord Giveth, the Good Lord Taketh Away." (except that "giving" and "taking" are flipped in order in the two different languages) I thought that this phrase is very representative of what Gibnem does, so I took the words "Gibt" (gives) and "Nimmt" (takes), anglicezed them, dropped some letters, and combined. Why all this German? I thought it went well with my theme of medieval fairy-tales. It didn't hurt that I grew up in Germany and attended German public schools through the fifth grade. For my revised villain, I'm keeping the name "Gibnem" for the sake of continuity (even though nobody seemed to like it), but I'm going to replace "Elric" because it's just too big of a distraction.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Gibnem, aka Old Man Sebreck v. 2.0

Male Spirit

DESCRIPTION:

Sebreck appears to be a perfectly normal elderly human gentleman of average appearance and modest stature. In reality, he is a powerful and unimaginably ancient spirit-being named Gibnem. He began his existence at the dawn of time as a totem-spirit to a primitive tribe, sustained by their supplications. Being a brutal and warlike tribe, they dedicated acts of violence and cruelty to Gibnem, and over time his general need for worship refined into a specific hunger for evil acts. In return for the sacrifices which sustained him, Gibnem protected his tribe and helped them prosper; they grew in numbers and influence until they were a mighty nation and he a demigod. Then they went to war against another great nation under the patronage of another demigod, and lost. Gibnem's people were forced to worship the victors' demigod, who ascended to full godhood as a result. Gibnem was reduced to a pale shadow of his former power and barely escaped with his life. For all of the millenia since, he has wandered the lands disguised as a mortal, sustaining himself by goading mortals into acts of evil, which he rewards using his diminished but still significant powers. All evil acts give him pleasure and sustenance, but only murder is sufficient to keep him alive for any significant length of time. His nature compels him to reward those who serve him, just as mortals are compelled to breathe; similarly, he cannot directly harm those who have recently done evil on his behalf.

MOTIVATIONS/GOALS:

In the past, Gibnem has attempted to raise himself back up to demigodhood by establishing murder cults, but in each instance he was discovered and nearly destroyed by a greater power. He has learned his lesson and no longer seeks elevation, instead striving to maintain a low profile. Resigned to an eternity of scavenging, he wanders around the world seeking those with the seeds of evil in their hearts, seeds which he nurtures until they blossom into acts of violence and depravity. With whispered half-truths and magical suggestions, he gets people to act out their worst impulses. When he finds a populace especially prone to evil, he lingers to feast until fear of discovery drives him to move on.

SCHEMES/PLOTS/ADVENTURE HOOKS:

  • A city has recently experienced a sharp increase in murder and other crimes of passion. The adventurers are asked by authorities to investigate, or perhaps decide to do so on their own after being attacked by a gang of street thugs or a mob of deranged vagrants.

  • A remote farming community has been hard-hit by famine. Sensing a great opportunity, Old Man Sebreck approaches the village elders with a proposal: he will grant them perpetual bounty and good health...for a price. Gibnem hopes that he will be able to secure a permanent and steady source of sustenance without catching the attention of a greater power. Together they plot to murder the next strangers who pass through town.


Looks much more promising at a brief read through, but I don't have time to compose proper thoughts. This would have gone down much better with the judges and voters, I feel, and I already have a much clearer idea of who and what Gibnem is.
Will try to get back on this tomorrow.

1 to 50 of 72 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Archive / Paizo / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2009 / Round 2: Create a villain concept / Gibnem, aka Elric the Miller All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.