Haldon Valmaur, the Jade Shadow


Round 2: Create a villain concept

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Haldon Valmaur, the Jade Shadow
male human ranger 8

Description:
Haldon Valmaur is a quiet, brooding archer filled with jealousy over the elven people’s fabled mastery of sword and bow. His narrow, hazel eyes and shaggy, brown hair give him the look of a feral predator. Haldon dresses in greens for camouflage and this, along with his stealthy, hit-and-run tactics, has earned him a name that is whispered throughout the forests in fear: “Jade Shadow.”

The ranger’s most distinguishing feature is a rough scar running across his left cheek and nose, a perpetual reminder of a sword fight he lost to an elf in his younger days. Ever since that duel, Haldon has shied away from melee, taking up the bow and vowing to prove himself to the world.

Haldon bears not only a scar from his past failure, but also a trophy from a recent victory. An iridescent unicorn horn hangs around his neck. Although it no longer possesses any magic, Haldon prizes the horn greatly.

The Jade Shadow’s closest friend is his animal companion, a black bear named Razor. A violent beast, Razor’s fur is crisscrossed by scars from tussles with other animals. The single bloody claw mark that mars the bear’s face nearly matches his master’s scar.

In addition to Razor, woodland creatures also perform Haldon’s bidding, following him around as if he were a corrupted version of the pied piper. Haldon nicknamed his band of entranced animals the “twisted forest horrors” after bringing out their wicked side. The creatures have a disturbing appearance – huge fangs, never-blinking eyes, extra heads or appendages, all color drained from their fur – as if they had marched straight out of a nightmare.

Motivations/Goals:
Driven by jealously, Haldon dreams of burning the elven forests and hunting down any friend of the elven people. He started out slow, striking elven settlements at night and peppering the guards with arrows. Each time, the townsfolk glimpse a mere shadow before Haldon flees.

Recently, he has become more daring, allowing Razor to run amok, terrifying people, while arrows rain from the sky. The damage so far has been minimal, as the cowardly archer retreats in the face of serious resistance. However, the seeds of fear have been spread and the Jade Shadow believes he will soon receive the recognition he deserves.

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:

  • Something is horribly wrong with the local wildlife. Animals have become fiercely aggressive and the townsfolk claim they resemble demons. The PCs are either sent to investigate or are attacked by fiendish beasts while traveling through the forest. Killing the twisted forest horrors quickly draws Haldon's attention.

  • A dead centaur is discovered in the Mierani Forest, green-fletched arrows making a pincushion of his body. The trail leads the PCs to a dead unicorn caught in a bear trap, its horn missing. Haldon hopes to lure the forest’s residents into booby-traps and the PCs may end up falling prey to his scheme.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Something potentially different. Good. Human ranger who keeps to the forests, the very forests he wants to burn - - huh? Okay, I’m sensing trouble but I’m intrigued. Onward . . .

Concept: Human archer who’s after elves. Effectively enough to have earned himself a nickname, and to be feared.

Execution: Language clear (aside from a handful of minor grammar and spelling glitches) and the descriptions good, but they’re (almost entirely) external. I need only the details of how Haldon and Razor communicate, and the depths of Razor’s loyalty, to have all I need to know about Razor . . . but Haldon’s a different matter. If he can “bring out the wicked side” of forest creatures, turning them into “twisted forest horrors,” I really need to know HOW, and the limits of this potentially-formidable power. It’s not something the rangers I’m familiar with can do, so . . . I’m glimpsing a possibly cool new power? TELL ME ABOUT IT!
This Jade Shadow must have some special powers of some sort. Or else he operates in a fantasy setting where the elves of the forests are incredibly incompetent. Repeatedly he peppers elf guards with arrows and gets away clean, while they see only a shadow? What sort of guards are they, if he’s established this fearsome rep? And when he runs out of handy elf guards to kill, are the PCs supposed to obligingly step into this “Hi, we’re your fodder for tonight” role? I’m not thinking the PCs I’m used to seeing in my games will. I’m thinking we’ll have one dead human archer in a hurry, with a bear going down a few rounds later (or, if Razor runs interference, the other way around). That’s a monster encounter, not a memorable villain, I’m afraid.
I’m not even sure if he’s just jealous of elves of the forest, or is a full-blown xenophobe. As a DM, I’d like to know; will he work with an elf who hates the same elves, in order to destroy more elves? What happens if he’s confronted by a clearly-superior elf foe? We’re told he’s “cowardly,” but will he bide his time and pretend to work with the elf if he must (or to avoid being slain out of hand), or flee, or go nuts? I need to know more of Haldon’s character, to run him properly.

Tilt: If he has a special power to create “twisted forest horrors” that he can control (as opposed to helplessly emanating something; we get hints that he notices when the “horrors” are killed; is he sensing this? Or just observing?), this has the makings of an interesting, deployable villain. However, as presented, the Jade Shadow could just be a sordid, one-note elf-hater with a faithful attack dog, oops: bear.

Overall: In the end, this submission didn’t grab me. I’m intrigued by that potential power, but it’s been left entirely undeveloped. So what we have is an idea, and a small-time foe for elves who MIGHT be built up into a villain. If, that is, the DM rolls up their design sleeves and gets to work, not picking up and just using what’s here.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

I think there's something cool here, but it doesn't quite deliver on that promise. Why does he hate elves so much? Is it just that one duel that scarred him? Or just because they're better than he is at the sword and bow? What's with the weird forest animals? Does he have some secret untapped power to mutate things? How is he sneaking up on elves at night and able to slip away? Why would he take action against the PCs, other than "one of them is an elf"?

I like the idea of a ranger villain, especially one that isn't all lovey-dovey about the stinkin' elves, but I don't think this NPC is villainous enough.

Rec: do not advance.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: A ranger villain. Alright, I want to see what you do with that.

Word Count: 490.

Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, overall design choices, playability): C-
The Good: At least he killed a unicorn. Now that is a bad guy I can get behind!
The Bad: He doesn’t like a racial weapon bonus? Seems like he should be stalking Monte Cook, not other in-game PCs and NPCs. I better email Sue and Monte... And he is bringing “twisted forest horrors” with him. I just don’t get it. I understand jealousy. It is one of the key human emotions that motivate people to evil. But jealousy about weapon mastery? This is thin, real thin.

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): C-
The Good: Reasonably well balanced entry, using word count effectively in each section. Parts are well-written.
The Bad: What is she doing now and why? It is very unclear. The “twisted forest horrors” certainly apply some ability or magic item, perhaps. But none is mentioned.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting): C-
Bland, seriously lacking in motivation.

Overall: C-
I don’t think you found the inner heart of hate and jealousy that your villain has. This one lacks details that are necessary.

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

From the gal who brought us the haunted shoes, which showed promise! I wish you luck and hope the voters see it differently than I did!

The Exchange Kobold Press

The villain has a spark of something new, the ranger gone bad, that I can see as potentially really new and powerful. Unfortunately, the design doesn't quite come together, as the other judges have remarked.

I wanted this one to work. I think your hooks are solid stuff, and the image of the unicorn horn as a trophy will surely enrage elven, druid, and similar PCs.

Unfortunately, good idea and incomplete execution isn't enough for RPG Superstar.

Recommendation To be commended for trying something new, though it didn't quite pan out. Not recommended to advance.


Well it's interesting seeing an original twist of a ranger who uses the creatures of the forest to hunt the masters of the forest - elves.
Motivation by humiliation from the scar in the duel might be more interesting and credible than more abstract jealousy. The arrogant young ranger who challenges an elf, and is quickly put in his place, vowing revenge for the slight, which slowly fester into hatred....

I'm afraid to say that details of any kind regarding the item or power which 'twists' and 'entrances' animals would have been nice to see. At present ('ve been reading too much Second Darkness recently) I'm imagining something fiendish - or maybe a 'gift' from drow. Possibly Haldon even has drow friends.

Would this villain cause the PCs grief?
Maybe as part of a 'guerilla' style hit and run strategy, trailing them through 'his' forest, sniping at them whenever they're involved in a fight with something else. Someone shooting at you every time you start a fight, but stealthily departing the scene long before the fight is over, and you can catch them is frustrating. Especially so if you're supposed to be doing something else at the time, not taking a break to go and find them...


This is a neat concept that seems half-finished. I get the feeling that this could have been a stellar villain if you had another 500 words in which to further describe him. Unfortunately, I think that you did err in not better explaining his seemingly unique power in respect to the twisted forest animals.

I will say that I'm tempted to vote for this if only to see if the mystery power is better explained in the stat block round. I still have many villains to read and miles to go before I vote, but I'll be keeping this one in mind.

CR

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

I got the feeling this was rushed, and is a lot cooler in the authors head.

I'm still wondering how this guy twists animals into more feral creatures, and why he lives/hunts in the very woods he wants to burn down.

What prevents him from doing so?

"Recently, he has become more daring, allowing Razor to run amok, terrifying people, while arrows rain from the sky. The damage so far has been minimal"

Minimal? If I'm attacked by a bear and arrows come raining down on my day, I'd assume that's significant.


Guess I'm not the only one who wanted to hear more about his twisted forest "friends." Seems a bit shallow to hate all elves just from one bad encounter with one (that's more of a PC thing, IMO ;) ), but is not unfeasible. On the whole, an entry that just needs a little maturing to be really compelling. So far, this one will probably be in my 4 votes.

EDIT: Decided not to vote for this one as I found others I like better.

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 definitely feel this was one of those entries that didn't get a lot of thought. Almost like you didn't expect to be here, and had to leave work early on the 23rd to finish your villain.

This character is completely one-dimensional. Moreover, Mr. Greenwood is bang on: he hunts the suckiest elves of all. Like their SRD counterparts, the Golarion elves can see twice as far as our villain under the forest canopy. It's not they who see shadows, it's him. They should be able to see him well enough to scar the other side of his face.

Nothing interests me about this villain, he's dead meat when the party finds him, and longbow envy is not a sufficient motivation for the kind of hate it takes to hunt entire parties of elves on your own.

Razor is a poor name for a bear, and Haldon would make a great name for an elven ranger.

Sorry.

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

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

Reckless Ratings

Concept3
(Is this villain villainous?)
Content2
(Grammar, Format,Spelling, Etc.)
Coolness2
(Would my players be impressed by this? Am I?)
Credibility2
(Does the villain’s motives make sense?)
Clarity2
(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 Score11


For me, Haldon isn't a villain, he's a side quest. His motivation strains credibility and your second plot hook requires the PCs to stumble into his forest. Sorry...

Marathon Voter Season 9

So I read the name and I thought 'cool a cat burglar', then I saw it was by Elizabeth Leib. Elizabeth has bought a lot of goodwill with me thanks to her shoes from the last round and I was really hoping for something cool here.

Okay, so it turned out not to be a cat burglar (I admit it, I was a little bit sad to discover that it wasn't one.)
What it is, is a relatively nice little NPC motivated by racism. It has a source (the humiation of defeat and scar.) It has a target (i mean, who doesn't want to kill elves, the pointy eared gits....) and an outlet, murder and the attempt to prove superiority by becoming better still with the bow than elves. She has really gotten a decent grasp on one kind of racism.

The problem comes with the other stuff. This character has no real reason to want to destroy the woodlands that give him shelter. He has no reason to be hurting or killing animals without reason and so on.

Over all, I cannot say that this character inspires me anywhere near as much as the shoes did. If you could have focused on the racism more and avoided cackling villain syndrome just a little more, this would have been great. Sorry Elizabeth.


The Jade Shadow strikes me as incomplete, and I hate to say that its state is likely going to be the reason why I don't vote for it; an evil ranger makes me want to keep reading, one that hunts elves makes me get my hopes up, one that's killed a unicorn ... that's just icing on the cake. But the substance just isn't there.

I need to know more of Valmaur's motivations. I need to know why he's followed by a hellish collection of woodland critters; am I the only one that envisioned Snow White if she had taken levels in the blighter prestige class? I need to know how he's managing to avoid the elven forces that he acts against. There's simply too much left unanswered.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

A swing, and a near miss. I was hopeful for a villainous ranger, but a lot of questions left unanswered, and some of the areas glossed too much. Sorry.


He became that crazy because elves are skilled with bow and sword and he lost a fight? That's not enough motivation for me to take seriously. Especially when his evil is apparently so potent that it changes the local wildlife... how's that work?

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

Does it grab me? No
Can I use it? No

End result: no vote from me

Marathon Voter Season 9

raincricket wrote:

He became that crazy because elves are skilled with bow and sword and he lost a fight? That's not enough motivation for me to take seriously. Especially when his evil is apparently so potent that it changes the local wildlife... how's that work?

racism is pretty irrational, welcome to the world. To me, it is the saving grace of this peice that it manages to capture the ugly stupidity of racism. Not prefectly by any means, but well enough to have the core of a great NPC.


Zombieneighbours wrote:
racism is pretty irrational, welcome to the world. To me, it is the saving grace of this peice that it manages to capture the ugly stupidity of racism. Not prefectly by any means, but well enough to have the core of a great NPC.

Racism is usually irrational, but it's not spontaneous; envy could work as a primary origin for such behavior, but usually not a single instance of envy alone.

As I mentioned elsewhere, if he was taught elves were inferior, if he had a growing dislike for pointed ears, if he believed he deserved more than them simply because of who he is, then a single event may be sufficient to tip the scales. If it is the result of a single incident, however, it probably indicates the individual was mentally unstable. Either way, people are not usually born racist, and this is information we need to know in order to understand his motivations.

Liberty's Edge

I like Haldon, heis a corruption of everything he is supposed to be... he is even ready to destroy hisgreatest weapon (the forest) to advance his agenda

his hate, jealosness and insanity make him a dangerous foe

the town is an small one so I can see him being higher level than the guards... still to go toe to toe against the masters of bow andarrow he would need to be particularly good

I see him as a master archer, but whose devastating lose in melee tipped what had already been jealousness into hate...

still need more from him

and yes... i would love to see how he twist the animals... I can see him throwing them at the guards as they try to go after him.

Elizabeth I am inclined to pass you up because I want tosee his stats... still i have more to read.

Marathon Voter Season 9

Heaven's Agent wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
racism is pretty irrational, welcome to the world. To me, it is the saving grace of this peice that it manages to capture the ugly stupidity of racism. Not prefectly by any means, but well enough to have the core of a great NPC.

Racism is usually irrational, but it's not spontaneous; envy could work as a primary origin for such behavior, but usually not a single instance of envy alone.

As I mentioned elsewhere, if he was taught elves were inferior, if he had a growing dislike for pointed ears, if he believed he deserved more than them simply because of who he is, then a single event may be sufficient to tip the scales. If it is the result of a single incident, however, it probably indicates the individual was mentally unstable. Either way, people are not usually born racist, and this is information we need to know in order to understand his motivations.

It isn't just envy, it is humiliation. A combination of those two powerful negative emotions could easily act as a trigger.

That said, i agree, we could have done with seeing a lot more on the origins of his racism and how he put it into practice, at the same time getting rid of some of baggage that had less to do with that core element.

Dark Archive

Twisted forest horrors is incredibly goofy to me. Also, while jealousy can be a good motivating factor for a villain, I really feel that he would be more interesting in getting the one elf instead of the entire race and I don't feel that he would want to twist a whole forest of animals, but that's just me.

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

While I often find racist villains interesting, this one fails to grab me. He almost feels like a reflection of a player who's disgusted by how much supplement-candy elves get. I feel like this guy's going to get left in a ditch by a party without them ever experiencing his backstory.

I'd like him better if the forest horrors were more the focus. Twisting nature has been done to death, but having it be from a jealous ranger rather than a warped druid has some potential for rejuvenating the idea.

Dark Archive

I agree that this guy holds promise, but falls short of the mark. However, I'm going to take him, polish up the idea, and see if I can't fit him into my campaign.


Zombieneighbours wrote:
raincricket wrote:

He became that crazy because elves are skilled with bow and sword and he lost a fight? That's not enough motivation for me to take seriously. Especially when his evil is apparently so potent that it changes the local wildlife... how's that work?

racism is pretty irrational, welcome to the world. To me, it is the saving grace of this peice that it manages to capture the ugly stupidity of racism. Not prefectly by any means, but well enough to have the core of a great NPC.

It's just not very convincing it how I should have put it.

Marathon Voter Season 9

raincricket wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
raincricket wrote:

He became that crazy because elves are skilled with bow and sword and he lost a fight? That's not enough motivation for me to take seriously. Especially when his evil is apparently so potent that it changes the local wildlife... how's that work?

racism is pretty irrational, welcome to the world. To me, it is the saving grace of this peice that it manages to capture the ugly stupidity of racism. Not prefectly by any means, but well enough to have the core of a great NPC.
It's just not very convincing it how I should have put it.

I have already said I thought is could have done with focusing more attention on that element of his character. But it does atleast take a swing at a believable and human motivation, which many of the villains dont try.


4/10

Well, it's a little more colorful to want to kill elves rather that just kill. But only a little.


I don't get the part about twisted animal followers. How does he make them this way--or does he just attract abberants? And why would he name the group the way he does? It smacks of the villian who is proud of being a deviant, yet that doesn't have an evident connection to his hatred of elves.

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

Not much to add. This feel much more like an encounter than a villain. His goals are to kill the mean elves who are better than him and his schemes pretty much "I'm going to kill me some elves". Now, if he were questing for some lost artifact that would afflict all elves with poor vision and clumsiness so there weren't capable of fighting well with sword and bow, that would be something interesting and villainous. Then he could have fun and eat popcorn watching the pitiful cursed elves get ripped to shreds by all of their enemies that they couldn't defend themselves against.

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

Next verse, same as the first. I think you have a one-shot encounter with a ranger gone bad. The idea is fine as far as it goes but just doesn't inspire, and the mechanical ambiguity of how the forest fuzzies are twisted to evil doesn't help.


As a further comment, to the contestant, unless you're really busy, it's probably useful to occasionally post on your thread with something like 'thank-you for your comments', 'I strongly disagree with you and look forward to responding to your comments once the voting is closed', or 'a vote for Haldon is a vote for an arrow in the back of every pointy-eared sneaky elven thief and silver-tongued lothario!' (Okay, maybe not quite the latter, but you get the general drift, I'm sure.)
It reminds voters that you're still interested in the contest and are following comments being made on your thread - which might just create a favourable impression in the minds of people coming back to check your thread as they make up their minds over where their last vote goes.

Seeing people take apart something you put together must be hard, and it may seem like what little the rules allow you to say may not make any difference, but in an early round such as this with so many votes for each voter to use, and a general consensus (apologies for saying this) that so few stand out from the pack, even little things might get you into the last sixteen.

Edit:
You have made the last 32. Have some confidence in what you can do! (And apologies if I have misunderstood what I have taken to be a reluctance to post.)


I can see how this could become a recurring villain, and he is potentially interesting, too. The problem is, as others have remarked, there's just no clue about his motivation. OK, so he's narked that elves are better at archery than he is, which I can see might be a bit annoying, but hardly seems justification for a campaign of genocide.

If you'd managed to nail the motivation, this one might have made it, but the character as is doesn't really hang together. That he wouldn't work in my campaign, either, isn't the writer's fault, but it is significant when I only have four votes. So, "no" to this one.


Sorry you did not make the top 16. Better luck next year, if you try again.

Liberty's Edge

I would've liked more elf genocide in Haldon. Sure it may not be world domination, but it'd be a goal getting him out into the world meeting and beating new and interesting PCs.

Liberty's Edge

In eastern European accent I used to have goals. Sure they were evil goals, but they were goals.

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