Bracht Darkhouse, The Flesh Peddler


Round 2: Create a villain concept

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The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Bracht Darkhouse, The Flesh Peddler
Male human sorcerer 7/Expert 2

Description

Bracht Darkhouse thinks of himself as a sculptor who works in the challenging medium of living tissue, but many of his powerful clients disdainfully refer to him as ‘the flesh peddler.’ Bracht struggles to perfect the art of grafting organs from one creature into the body of another. If the donor creature has inherited abilities, Bracht is able to preserve and intensify these in the harvested organs, giving the recipient access to these abilities. He often harvests organs from humanoids just gaining control over their sorcerous powers, and grafts them into the bodies of his clients—power-hungry warlords, lascivious nobles, and bizarre flesh fetishists.

As a teenager, Bracht felt the thousand unblinking eyes of a distant entity called Ohnishamotan examine every inch of his flesh and find him pitifully limited. From that night on, ecstatic visions of a city of fleshy walls lined with twitching eyes, drooling mouths, and grasping hands disturbed his sleep. Until he discovered an artistic outlet for his visions—the sculpting of living tissue—he frequently woke soaked in sweat, whimpering in fear, and pleading for Ohnishamotan to gaze upon him again. Bracht now understands his dreams and sorcerous abilities to be a gift from a powerful being.

Bracht is extremely precise in his dress, mannerisms, and speech. His clothes are kept fastidiously clean. He frequently grafts mouths and eyes onto his own body, but is careful to place them where they will not be visible when he is fully clothed. The truly observant notice that Bracht has one normal blue eye and one green eye with a catlike iris that moves independently.

Motivations/Goals:

Bracht aspires to create, on Golarion, the likeness of Ohnishamotan, remaking Katapesh into a living city of endless flesh without rational form or limits. Through research and experimentation, he has mastered the art of weaving together limbs, eyes, and mouths from various creatures into walls of quivering, grasping flesh.

The experiments that will enable him to unleash the chaotic promise of abundant flesh upon the world require an enormous, sterile ‘gallery’ and a large supply of arcanely enhanced vats, vials, and basins in which to grow and intensify the inherent powers of the harvested tissue and organs. He performs his mundane organ grafts for wealthy clients to fund his more creative endeavours.

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:


  • When his ‘gallery’ is overflowing, Bracht lets loose some of his more violently insane and bizarre creations so as to share his artistic vision with the city. Katapesh being Katapesh, they often go unnoticed for days.

  • A sorcerer in the party has the softest skin and a powerful bloodline. She’s perfect for one of Bracht’s wealthier clients—or at least parts of her will be. Bracht sends some of his more bizarre creatures after her.

  • Caverns and ruins are filthy places but are often home to the most interesting creatures. Bracht employs adventurers to capture particular monsters.

Contributor

Initial Impression: An old concept (the monster-transforming mad scientist) presented in a fresh, vivid way. I’m interested.

Concept: So this NPC is personally driven, and isn’t the stereotypical “evil and mustache-twirling loving it” villain. He will very likely come into collision with the PCs, but could just as easily be resorted to by them to help an injured PC, or be considered useful and helpful by a trusted PC ally. I’m liking this.

Execution: Da Monster Maker! Yet differentiated from the stock cliché enough that I’m forgetting the cliché in my deepening interest in Bracht. Who is described clearly and strongly. I ASSUME the eyes and mouths he grafts onto himself in hidden places “work,” but just a word or two would have confirmed that. Can the extra mouths just bite (do damage) and perhaps suck blood, or are they connected to digestive tracts and can feed him? Are the eyes fully connected to the brain and give him the same sort of vision as his own, or are they more primitive light-sensors? Again, I ASSUME everything works because of his mentioned success in grafting things onto clients and creating “working” monsters, but it’s important to tell me the limits of his skills, how quickly he can graft, whether subjects (willing or unwilling) are protected against trauma . . . because his ending up doing surgery on PCs is likely. I don’t need reams of rules, but a sentence or two of guidance would help me not only run Bracht in the short term, it would let me as DM understand Bracht so I can better extrapolate and use him long-term.

Tilt: We get both Bracht’s goal and logical adventure hooks associated with it. Good, bases covered. Yet reading about the extra mouths and eyes grafted onto his own body, and that he’s careful to place them where they’re normally concealed by clothing, a question arises: does he have no intimates? What’s his cover story if someone does see something. Telling me something swift and short on these matters would again deepen my understanding of Bracht so I can visualize him better, and run him better.

Overall: This submission is like a successful “big-picture” strategy; some of the short-term, nitty-gritty details have been missed, but the shining plan grabs me. I want to use this character, and he can serve as ally, villain, and competitor for resources with the PCs, switching among these roles several times, in an ongoing RPG campaign. I’m in.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: Flesh peddler. Groovy. What else ya got? Hmm, relatively low level. I like that. Will he be a slave trader or a clichéd Dr. Frankenstein? Let’s find out…

Word Count: 493.

Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, overall design choices, playability): A-
The Good: Now this is a villain. He has a driving force that will MUST bring him into conflict with the PCs. I usually use Darth Vader as a good example, but he isn’t the only example. I used him to help people who are struggling with finding someone villainous enough. This submission doesn’t have that problem. He may not be as in your face as the Terminator, he may not want to kill YOU specifically. But he wants to convert his whole town according to his vision. And that is going to be bad, real bad. Another example of a villain with sanity issues that is still playable (unlike our insane pixie). Creative, not cliché. Fits well in a fantasy setting. This is not just a real world motivation ported to D&D. This is a fantasy-based villain and I like that. I also like the lower power of this villain. Not everyone needs to be CR 19.
The Bad: Not much, really. This is a great concept. I question whether at his power level he can do the things he envisions doing, but I’m not overly bothered by that.

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): A-
The Good: Very well written. Creepy in a good way. Not overdone or gross or gratuitous. This is a good example of a balanced submission—all the parts get appropriate and equal treatment and weight. No part is sacrificed so that another part can shine. Very professional.
The Bad: Again, not much that I can find. I wish I knew a bit more how he does the things you say he does—grafting limbs, etc., and regaining the abilities of the original owner of the limb—since a level 7 sorcerer and level 2 expert by themselves certainly don’t have access to the ability to do such things. So where do these powers come from? I don’t expect that to be detailed in this 500-word submission. I do want to see it later, though. Is it an item? A feat? Some weird lore learned from a tome? He doesn’t have cleric levels, so I don’t see it as a divine ability. My concern with this is only where his ability to do what he does comes from in that it seems like there is a disconnect between what he can do and where his power curve is as described.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting): A+
I loved this one.

Overall: A
A great fantasy campaign villain with flavor and mojo, avoiding clichés, limited only by some questions about where his ability comes from and whether or not he is properly placed on the power curve.

Recommendation: I DO recommend this villain submission for advancement.

From the guy who brought us the horn of the dark hunt, which I loved! The horn had some mechanics issues where flavor and mojo took over for good, solid mechanics. I worry that the same thing is happening here. How in 3E does this villain do those things? There are answers to that question, just make sure you think about them. But once again the mojo wins and I STRONGLY recommend you to advance. I sure hope the voters agree. Good luck!

Contributor

Okay this guy is messed up, not just in terms of what's going on in his brain, but what he does to his body and other people. He's normal enough that you don't notice how weird he is, and when you do notice the weird it's enough of a shift that it's really jarring, like seeing the real Wilbur Whateley.

I like the description and the motivation. I would like to have seen more of a variety in the plot hooks (heck, maybe he offers to make changes on a PC, or restore a damaged limb by grafting on a replacement), but would use this guy in a campaign.

And the weird thing is, technically he's insane... but in a way that let's him stay outwardly rational and channel his insanity into his work.

Rec: advance to next round!

The Exchange Kobold Press

Strong, clear language, a limited amount of backstory, and a villain with sick, twisted, abhorrent style.

What's not to like?

Bracht Darkhouse could have been just another insane necromancer, but you've given him a clientele (which gives him contacts and leverage), you've given him interesting hobbies (releasing his creations), and you've given him a worthy villainous goal for the long-term, a dream of Katapesh turned to shoggoth-flesh and gibbering-mouther-central.

There's so much to work with that this villains schemes do seem to leap to mind easily. I can picture him and know how to roleplay him. I know what he wants. And I know how to keep him relevant over a longer arc.

You've really nailed it. Well done!

Recommendation Well-crafted and highly recommended.

Sovereign Court

Creepy, creepy, creepy. But there's more to him than just creepiness. Great villain!!

Oh, and I loved the line about "Katapesh being Katapesh, they often go unnoticed for days." Ha!

Star Voter Season 6

Basically, your villain and the otyugh are going for the same mad scientist angle. May the most Lovecraftian win!

For feats, he has to have Craft Wondrous Item (3rd), Craft Magic Arms and Armor (6th), then Craft Construct (9th). That's going to undermine his survivability. Unfortunately, none of those are on the Aberrant bloodline bonus feat list. (You should have indicated his bloodline!)

Where's his Igor? Every good mad scientist has an assistant. A description of a fleshy minion would be just the thing...

Mechanics issues:
He lacks the caster level to create flesh golem manuals, incidentally.

He lacks the character level to qualify for Brew Fleshcrafting Poison.


This entry was #5 for me (and we can only vote for four). In the end, the name kept throwing me and I imagined my players making fun of "Darkhouse" repeatedly during the campaign. This is a solid entry, though, and I would be happy to see it advance.

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

Do want. This guy is currently my top choice. I wasn't too keen on your item, but the Flesh Peddler sings to me. He's exactly the sort of villain I'd use in a campaign.

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

1 point for using "fastidiously" in a sentence. You may just get a vote from me. I have more to look over :)

Good Job.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Cthulhu meets Frankenstein... Pulp mix galore. The "Katapesh being Katapesh" line is cool. It's evocative and colorful, and I want an adventure module just like that. Again, here's to a solid statblock !

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook Subscriber

Good job. I am a little worried that the execution, rules-wise, of this villain may be difficult to pull off but if you can do it, I think you have a winner. I'm not 100% sold on the name though.


This guy practically screams bwahaha, which is a bit of a villain test for me :) Seriously, I was hooked by the second sentence and it just got better from there. Definitely getting my vote.

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

This is my vote #1, a villain that can affect the game from level 1, building to a crescendo many levels after first impact.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I haven't read all the entries yet, but this one is definitely getting my vote, no matter what. This guy is seriously twisted and I LOVE IT! It is disturbing to know you have a young son, though. Hrrm.


Lots of posts already on this one, so you're looking like an early runner! This was probably the coolest entry. I mean, the guy grafts eyes onto himself! That's just plain awesome!

That said, I was a little disappointed with the plot hooks. The guy wants to reduce the world into a quivering lump of flesh, and he's hiring adventurers to capture monsters for him? Come on!

It'll be interesting to see how you translate this guy into a stat-block, too... Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Oh, man, I am loving this guy! He's got an evil vibe to him that just sends shivers up my spine. The writing is solid, too. I've only read a half-dozen of these so far, but you are on my short list for sure.


So far, this one is a top favorite, for sure. It has all the elements I like - it's evocative, it's creepy, it gets inside your head, and is very easy to see the PCs involved with him. Ten hugs for you, good sir, and very likely one shiny vote from me.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Just wow. Creepy, nasty, villainous. Great job!

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

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

Reckless Ratings

Concept4
(Is this villain villainous?)
Content4
(Grammar, Format,Spelling, Etc.)
Coolness4
(Would my players be impressed by this? Am I?)
Credibility3
(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 Score17

Liberty's Edge Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I love it. Very Cthulhu-ish. Great stuff.

Scarab Sages

I really like this guy, but I agree that he should be a bit higher level to accomplish what you describe.

Pros: very interesting version of Frankenstein or Victor Mordenheim. Very Ravenloft-like (and I like Ravenloft). Exceptional writing and descriptive language. I want to see more just to see an adventure with your imagery. The mechanics of his work make way for a lot of cool custom creatures, and use of creatures that are rarely seen - like Gibbering Mouthers! Decent motivations - but madness isn't my favorite motivator, really.

Cons: Insanity defense just doesn't excite me. I know it's from a cosmic or cthulhu-like source, but it still just seems too black & white. This has a Silent Hill / Event Horizon kind of madness & horror feel which I think is almost too easy? Plot hooks could be a bit more creative. Having said that, I think I'm just being picky. This is still very good.

Idea for Plot Hook: What if someone notices a scar on a PC's back that he/she has never noticed? It could be a character that is shy or doesn't go topless often in other company. What if they couldn't remember if they ever had that scar before? What if they had been one of this guy's first experiments a long time ago, perhaps when they were just kids...

Rec: Definitely recommend!


I'm sad to say that I can't get past seeing Bracht as just a madman, not a villain. I want to see him as a villain - after the Horn of the Dark Hunt entry I wanted to see something from this contestant I could vote for in this round - but magical 'mad scientists' generally leave me cold; in a world where messing around with the shape of creatures is not a 'blasphemy against the creator', it needs something else to tip them over the edge into clearly defined villainy. Drow fleshwarpers take sadistic delight in torturing the mind and body of unwilling victims. This guy just does it because he has an insane vision of the world, and is often paid by others to 'fix them up'. The one chink of villainy hinted at for me is that he goes out of the way to have people killed to harvest them for materials, but I'm not sure whether that moves him sufficiently far to the villainous side of madman.

Will this villain cause the PCs grief?
Not unless they encounter some of his creations on a rampage. Heck, PCs who don't care to look too closely at this guy's means may end up paying him to patch them up or 'enhance' them, and be best buddies with the guy.

Edit:
It may just be the time of night here in the UK- probably time I turned in for bed anyway- and maybe Bracht will look more villainous tomorrow.

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

Quibble: How do you need to be observant to notice a cat's eye in a human? That would jump out in any brightly lit area.

More significant: definitely lacks the level to meet his aims.

But those concerns aside, this guy grabs me. I love the idea of recrafting a city in insane, quivering flesh.

Probable vote.


roguerouge wrote:

Where's his Igor? Every good mad scientist has an assistant. A description of a fleshy minion would be just the thing...

Actually, this guy reminded me of Igors in Terry Pratchett novels, just gone Cthulhu-evil.

I have just started reading the entries but so far this impresses me. But the enxt round will be about mechanics, and I wonder if you can pull that one off...

It is kind of lame to vote for familiar faces of the forums, but it is likely you will get one of my votes...

The Exchange

While I don't think I'll ever use this guy, I think you have quality, Trevor. I have voted for this and I'm cheering you on.

But I have Neil and Doyle marginally ahead at the moment.

Cheers


I'm a sucker for gibbering, fleshy dementia. Strangely, I recently ran a villain very similar to this to great effect, and I think you did well. Since he's both extremely creepy and useful to PCs, he begins merely as an intriguing NPC -- not immediately a threat -- but he makes for a fun story seed that you can slowly reveal over time.

You get nothing but applause -- and a vote -- from me.


I love it. This is a villain that the PCs will equally fear and hate, and his plans leave them no choice but to oppose him or run screaming to another region. Well done!

CR

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka NChance

"I know of a man who can grant you such power... as long as you don't mind where it comes from..."

A great villain, both for good PCs who want to stop him and bad PCs who want power and are hideously warped by him. Great job.


The horror. The horror.

Dark Archive

This villain is definitely one of the more fleshed out (sorry, couldn't help myself =P ) characters. At first, I wasn't really sure that he would be a villain that would be dangerous to others since he was just grafting pieces on to the wealthy, but once it was disclosed that he would go after people who had the parts that he wanted/needed and wanted to "share" his creations with everyone, I thought he would make a pretty good villain.

While I'm not a big fan of this type of character (I've seen it in a few games I've played), I really feel this is one of the stronger submissions, so you'll be seeing one of my votes.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

In another thread, Jason Nelson wrote the following:

If there is one thing the judges hammered home in the comments on last year's entries in the villain around, it was the nature of a villain:

1. Not be one-dimensional
2. Not be a one-shot antagonist
3. Be proactive - the villain is DOING something, and ideally something of consequence
4. Have plans and goals, and methods for achieving them.

I see this villain, and the other three I voted for, as fulfilling most of these points.

One-dimensional ... most horrific characters do come across as one-dimensional in some ways, but I see depth here to play with.

One-shot ... definitely not. Loosing his "extras" on the city, long term wanting to change the city into an abomination, potential for friends and allies to be "harvested" ... not one shot.

Proactive ... he's less active than some in an adventuring sense, but he's definitely active in his base of operations as well as activities that will be noticed in the right or wrong circles.

Plans and goals and methods to do 'em ... definitely.

Three out of four with a good idea of how to play this character. This is why Bracht has my vote.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

I appreciate both the support and the constructive criticism. For those who said they were voting for other villains instead, I agree that there are some great other villains out there. For those who gave me one of your votes, many thanks. For those who have yet to vote, vote!

Liberty's Edge

Tarren Dei wrote:
I appreciate both the support and the constructive criticism. For those who said they were voting for other villains instead, I agree that there are some great other villains out there. For those who gave me one of your votes, many thanks. For those who have yet to vote, vote!

count another one

this is my 4th vote... I will continue reading... but I am certain I have what I was looking for...

I see Dr. Frankensteing 'pensando a lo grande' (thinking BIG!)

As one (or more) of the judges mentioned... he is just a normal guy until you begin noticing the details...

excellent either for Lovecraft Horror or Ravenloft stories... that is the level I judge Horror villains... and Bracht delivers entirely what I had hoped from you Tarren...

Congratz for an excellent Villain...

Is your son voting for you? I do believe he said he was judging you fairly against the others :P

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Montalve wrote:


Is your son voting for you? I do believe he said he was judging you fairly against the others :P

Thanks for your vote. I hope to have Nerrat's as well once he is finished reading each and every villain.


6/10

Good description. In the end it's a generic experimenter cultist guy. But, you know, they make the world go around.

Liberty's Edge

I'm voting for this one also.

Sam


I already voted for you Tarren. Good luck!

Honestly speaking, though, I wish you'd made that hypnotist your villain.

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

Hmm. Literary villains not well-suited for RPG use...Tyler Durden (Fight Club) comes to mind. Most players wouldn't be too receptive to finding out they'd been the one doing the crimes.

Liberty's Edge

Montalve wrote:


Is your son voting for you? I do believe he said he was judging you fairly against the others :P

Maybe Yes! Maybe No! You will never ever know!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8 aka Tarren Dei

Nerrat Dei wrote:
Montalve wrote:


Is your son voting for you? I do believe he said he was judging you fairly against the others :P
Maybe Yes! Maybe No! You will never ever know!

Shouldn't you be getting ready for school?!

Marathon Voter Season 9

Wow...best entry, hands down the very best entry

Liberty's Edge

Nerrat Dei wrote:
Montalve wrote:


Is your son voting for you? I do believe he said he was judging you fairly against the others :P
Maybe Yes! Maybe No! You will never ever know!

that is just evil :P

Liberty's Edge

Montalve wrote:
Nerrat Dei wrote:
Montalve wrote:


Is your son voting for you? I do believe he said he was judging you fairly against the others :P
Maybe Yes! Maybe No! You will never ever know!
that is just evil :P

Muhahahahaha!!!!

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

Terrific job. Complete in all parts, delicious fleshy flavor, horrifying fleshy vibe. This is only the second one so far (along with the otyugh) where I said "THIS is what I'm talkin' about!"

Depending on what else I see, I may end up voting for 4 of the also-rans instead of what to me are the two clear best villains I've read so far, since you two are going through to Round 3 no matter what, or I may just vote my conscience for you guys and 2 others and let the chips fall where they may.

Anyway, great job. I am interested to see how you pull this off mechanically within the character's level, but the flavor section is very well done indeed.

Liberty's Edge

Jason Nelson wrote:
Depending on what else I see, I may end up voting for 4 of the also-rans instead of what to me are the two clear best villains I've read so far, since you two are going through to Round 3 no matter what, or I may just vote my conscience for you guys and 2 others and let the chips fall where they may.

lol

if everyone thinks like this they mightnot pass actually :P


If he sees his sculptures as beautiful, why hide his work? (survival instinct, yes I know, but it might be more interesting if he thinks that "Joe Sixpack" can't appreciate true art, so he hides it from unappreciative masses and only shows what he's done to the few he thinks highly of...)


As Clark Peterson and Roguerouge pointed out...

roguerouge wrote:


Mechanics issues:
He lacks the caster level to create flesh golem manuals, incidentally.

He lacks the character level to qualify for Brew Fleshcrafting Poison.

I find myself torn. This is the second submission where I really liked the writing, but have trouble getting past the nuts and bolts of the submission.

All of the judges reccomended you for advancement, but I think you've "painted yourself into a corner." If you are limited by the rules to using or referencing the Pathfinder Beta, 3.5 SRD, and published Pathfinder Chronicles material, then I don't see how you are going to get past the next round without breaking the contest rules. You are OK this round because no mechanics were required. I think next round, mechanics-wise, you are screwed. I hope you prove me wrong, and I am really looking forward to seeing your Rules-Fu. If you somehow pull this off without violating the rules, I may just vote for you on principle all the way to the end.

I really wish I could see the stat block now.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

I am not as taken by the flesh-warping concept as some of my fellow spectators, but this is a far-above-solid entry that shows a lot of promise for next round.

Despite my highly personal (and likely unfounded) reservations, I can't deny that this entry just deserved it. Sooo...you have my vote.

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

Jason Rice wrote:


All of the judges recommended you for advancement, but I think you've "painted yourself into a corner." If you are limited by the rules to using or referencing the Pathfinder Beta, 3.5 SRD, and published Pathfinder Chronicles material, then I don't see how you are going to get past the next round without breaking the contest rules. You are OK this round because no mechanics were required. I think next round, mechanics-wise, you are screwed. I hope you prove me wrong, and I am really looking forward to seeing your Rules-Fu. If you somehow pull this off without violating the rules, I may just vote for you on principle all the way to the end.

I really wish I could see the stat block now.

The contest rules do say they can introduce new rules in your stat-block. I think this entry is going to do just that.

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