Aelfric Dream-Slayer


Round 2: Create a villain concept

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RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Aelfric Dream-Slayer
Male human (reincarnated elf) lich druid 15

“If it prevents an apocalypse, a mere genocide is the lesser of two evils.”

The undead druid, Aelfric, believes that the dream world is a threat to the fabric of reality, and seeks to exterminate all creatures capable of dreaming. He leads a cabal of likeminded allies, both living and undead.

Description: But for bits of blackened, mummified flesh, Aelfric is skeletal, with empty sockets where eyes should be. He wears a plain woolen robe and a palpable aura of dread.

Aelfric frequently uses a thousand faces to assume the appearance of a living elf.

Phylactery: Aelfric’s soul is housed in a dead but magical tree, which stands in a grove alongside the phylacteries of his undead allies. Cryptic divinations say this lifeless grove is hidden “within the secret dreams of Castrovel.”

Motivation: The elven druid, Aelfric, died and was reincarnated as a human during a war against aberrant invaders from another reality. Though the aberrations were ultimately defeated, aberrant armies continued to haunt Aelfric’s dreams.

Dreams were a new experience for the former elf, and Aelfric found them terrifying. Despite others’ assurances to the contrary, Aelfric was certain that his nightmares were real; the dream world was clearly a staging ground for an aberrant invasion. If other dreamers couldn’t see this, they were being deceived and likely used as pawns.

Aelfric soon procured magic that sealed his own mind against dreams. But he realized that stopping one man’s dreams was not enough to thwart the coming aberrant apocalypse. He thus devised a more ambitious plan of defense, and bought the time needed to implement it by embracing undeath, the first of many necessary evils.

Goals: Aelfric strives to eliminate all creatures capable of dreaming, thus saving the waking world from whatever aberrations lurk within dreams. A dedicated druid, Aelfric also plans on securing the world’s ecosystem against the effects of this planned extinction, working to replace dream-capable animal species with monstrous plants and mindless vermin.

Schemes/Plots: Aelfric regularly orchestrates breeding programs and engineered plagues. He is also fond of intrigues that place sleepless elves in positions of power at the expense of individuals who experience dreams.

Aelfric’s latest obsession is the Maresblood Cauldron, an ancient artifact of deadly nightmares and mass destruction. Having already acquired the cauldron, Aelfric seeks the material components needed to activate it.

Adventure Hooks: Aelfric frequently works behind the scenes. Possible scenarios in which adventurers work for or against Aelfric include the following:

- Reclusive druids need help defeating a nest of aberrations.
- Plant monsters being bred in a haunted forest threaten local livestock.
- A cursed idol spreads a deadly sickness to which only elves are immune.
- A merchant hires adventurers to collect rare materials for a secretive buyer.
- A lost grove of lifeless trees must be destroyed to prevent the return of a vanquished evil.
- And then an army of aberrations emerges from the dream world.

Contributor

Initial Impression: Like the idea of someone seeking to save the world from dreams by exterminating all dreamers, but is all the “reincarnated elf to human druid now turned lich” stuff really necessary? I’m interested but confused, so this had better be good . . .

Concept: A dedicated druid (deluded into thinking other dreamers are pawns of creatures about to invade from a dream world) who “engineers” plagues and orchestrates breeding programs (presumably to increase the numbers of unsleeping elves and decrease all those dreaming humans)? I’m interested, but tell me more about how one engineers a plague to target just one part of an ecosystem and leave the rest of the system untouched or unreacting. That’s like telling me “my villain has a superweapon that does this, but I won’t tell you how it does it.” Grrr.

Execution: Interesting origin story. I read his “latest obsession is” and now know he goes from obsession to obsession. Good; mind telling me what some of them are? Aside from this one cauldron that you won’t tell me anything about except that it doesn’t work yet? I tumble to the obvious (the material component search can be an adventure or two), but await any lore about what the cauldron will do, once it’s working. Is it a Death Star? Or does it brew potions that just stop dreams? Or does it turn dreaming humans into sleepless elves? WHAT? Hmm, like the intrigues to install elven rulers, but notice another flaw; some of the adventure hooks don’t necessarily have to have anything to do with this character at all.

Tilt: The “eliminating dreamers” idea still grabs me, but is the dream world real? It seems so, from the last adventure hook, so what world (or plane, or whatever) is it? Should I wander back through old D&D editions and pick a place “aberrations” can come from? I know I CAN, but what did the designer have in mind here? And why didn’t he tell me?

Overall: The idea still intrigues me, so I’m letting my heart overrule my head and saying I WANT to run with this one strongly enough that I’ll try. Yet there’s so much missing here that I feel this is a half-developed idea, not a fully-drawn villain.

Recommendation: Recommended (but only just) for advancement.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: Druid lich dreamslayer? I’m in. I have no idea what that is, but I like it! Sort of like “Dark Lord of the Sith.” No clue what that means (or didn’t at the time), but I loved it!

Word Count: 496.

Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, overall design choices, playability): C+
The Good: I’m a sucker for liches, so you got me. At first I liked this idea of hating all things that dream. And this is an example of an interesting druid, having had a couple that were boring. I also don’t think he is truly evil, so that is interesting. Your opening quote seems to reference this. But I guess anyone willing to embrace a genocide—even if it is a perceived lesser of two evils—is evil enough to be a villain. In the end, the hook of “he seeks to exterminate all creatures capable of dreaming” is pretty strong. Plus, you play with some ideas of insanity (or is it?) and certainly with a non-standard mind set and view of the world. Those bad guys, like our pixie submission, can be confusing and unfocused. But this is an example of a villain with a warped world view that is understandable and playable.
The Bad: He’s not directly on a collision course with the PCs. He just wants to end dreams, and thus, because they dream, the PCs. The problem I have is that it seems like he’d be equally happy with a solution where the water of all villages and towns is infused with a magic that prevents the drinkers from dreaming (or perhaps making a veil of the midnight vigil for everyone). There are other ways to stop dreaming (like the magic he himself used to seal his mind against dreams, which I presume is also your very own veil of the midnight vigil). I guess I have an issue with a villain who, with the application of some creative thinking and some magic, would be OK with the PCs being alive.

Here is another problem: *IF* there actually is a dream world of aberrant invaders (and your final hook suggests there is) then this guy is right. Something needs to be done. While killing all dreamers may not be the answer, certainly there is a strong chance that the PCs will have their interests aligned with this guy—they will want to stop a dream world invasion too. Now that can make for a pretty interesting situation, I’ll grant that. But it worries me. It makes me wonder if this submission was thought through all the way.

And I see in the hooks that the PCs could work “for or against him.” Now, I understand the “secretly working for the bad guy” concept, and that is a great concept and leads to dramatic switcheroos. But I don’t that that is where you are coming from. I think that in reality the PCs and the villain could be on the same side of an issue—differing only in their means of solving the problem. That goes back to what I said above. I don’t like that. Sure, bad guys and good guys can be briefly aligned, but usually for limited reasons—like Anakin and Obi Wan helping Dooku escape from the pirates in the recent Clone Wars episode. But they should NEVER share the same end goal. Here, this bad guy and the PCs actually share the same goal—when the dream monsters come, they will be fighting side by side. You get a big mark down for this.

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): B-
The Good: Relatively well-written. Good format.
The Bad: There is some missing information in this submission, but it doesn’t bother me that much. I can get by. I figure I know what the cauldron would do. Plus, the rules say that they can't really list out magic items (though I dont think that means they are prohibited from talking about what an item does for them generally). I think you missed an opportunity with the description. Sure, he’s a lich so how much do you really need to describe him. But I believe all villains are unique. Certainly his lich form has some unique and interesting qualities. If not, how about the elf form he usually assumes. I think you shorted yourself on this part. I thought the adventure hooks were pretty weak. As mentioned above, his motivation, while intriguing and compelling, seems to have been poorly thought through.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting): B+
This guy has the mojo. I would want to use him just to see how it works out, despite the grave concerns I have.

Overall: B-
A cool druid lich with some playable insanity—or is it insanity?—that suffers perhaps from not being all the way thought through. Saved by a heavy does of superstar mojo.

Recommendation: I DO recommend this villain submission for advancement, but with some serious concerns. Some real serious concerns, particularly in light of having read all the other submissions. This one's mojo gets it by, just barely.

From the guy who brought us the veil of the midnight vigil. I see an interaction between your submissions. I like that. Best of luck and hopefully the voters will forgive the shortcomings of this submission as I have, or perhaps not even see them as shortcomings. Good luck!

Contributor

There are a lot of elements here--elves, reincarnation, lichdom for immortality, an ancient otherworldly invasion, another pending otherworldly invasion that nobody believes is real, mass genocide in a "I must destroy this world to save it" sort of way. Because most higher animals dream, he's going to have to kill almost every animal in the world... and any druid who thinks that's acceptable is crazy. So here we have yet another crazy villain who's trying to kill everyone (but for a good reason).

I'm reminded of the first Matrix movie, which was about cybertechnology and artificial reality. Then the sequels came along and added elements of existentialism, predestination, free will, psychic powers, and god... and it was too much. That's what I feel like with this villain--so much piled up on him that it's straining my believability.

Rec: do not advance.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Over years as a publisher and designer, I've developed an allergy to all dream-things. In a fantasy setting, you're already once-removed from reality. But when you layer in a dream-world on top of that, it gets to be too much for me.

Too many designers use "dream-world" as an excuse for "I don't need to apply logic or sense to this scenario!". And I say that as someone who has written two adventures with dream elements.

Anyway, by choosing the dream theme, you make your bar higher, and I think you met it. The dream-aversion is a new angle, and the villain doesn't require entering a dreamland (the usual pitfall).

OTOH, we've already seen a lot of druids, several liches, and so forth. It does seem a kitchen-sink approach to design. That's a concern, because it feels sloppy.

Reading Aelfric, I think that the kitchen sink is needlessly complicates things. I'm trying to picture *explaining* his motivation to players. It's not pretty.

Lots going on with this villain, but much of it seems difficult to translate into action. Your solid hooks help.

Recommendation Not wild about it, but lukewarm recommendation just for trying to pull this off.

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

This guy, I like. It's very much high, weird, concept, and I'm okay with that.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Yikes. Lots of tough love from the judges this year. First, I read the comments on my entry and got worried. Then I skimmed the threads for all the other entries and realized that I'm actually tied with a half-dozen people for the third highest number of judges' recommendations! Looks as though we're all going to have to work extra hard to catch up with the two front-runners.

Thank you all for the constructive criticism. It's been years since I last had an opportunity to design a villain for a campaign, so I'll take any advice I can get to whip me back into shape. Not surprisingly, I'd also love to hear what the other readers think.

Thanks again. Vote Aelfric!

The Exchange

Other than the reincarnation-just-to-become-undead thing, this villain has a great set of motivations and foils. He runs counter to his own goals and either does not realize or does not care - the PC's will have to outthink him, because they'll never outreason him.

Unsure if I would use him, but he certainly has the staying power if I were of a mind to.


First and foremost, it's nice to see a villain who is certifiably insane. A lot of the villains that I've read so far seem to be "overreacting" villains, in that they have endured real hardships, but have gone over the top in their response to them. This is the first one who is just crazy and capable of acting on his delusions.

I do think that more could have been done to make him a personal threat to the PCs -- perhaps his delusion could include the belief that powerful spellcasters dream of more powerful aberrations, which would give him good (yet crazy) reason to specifically target certain PCs. Regardless, I love the flavour of this.

CR

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

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

Reckless Ratings

Concept4
(Is this villain villainous?)
Content3
(Grammar, Format,Spelling, Etc.)
Coolness4
(Would my players be impressed by this? Am I?)
Credibility4
(Does the villain’s motives make sense?)
Clarity3
(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 Score18

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

Eric Morton wrote:


Description: But for bits of blackened, mummified flesh, Aelfric is skeletal, with empty sockets where eyes should be. He wears a plain woolen robe and a palpable aura of dread.

Remind me to never start a sentence like this, it was so awkward I'm still rereading it and contorting my facial muscles in confusion.

The dream world thing reminds me too much of World of Warcraft, where druids go to the Emerald Drea...ya see boring.

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

The goal of killing all dreaming creatures is a little fanatical. Hating aberrations and mistaking bizarre dreams for their intrusion into reality is a good compromise.

I would have this guy killing folks with bizarre dreams. I'd have him stalking fortune tellers and hiding in the church confessional, and leave it to the PCs to find out why these unrelated folk are being killed in their sleep.

I wouldn't have him be a lich - though druid liches are cool and rare. And I wouldn't bother with the reincarnation. I am not sure what angle that plays except to convert an elf into a dreaming creature. Furthermore, my elves dream. They don't sleep, but their reverie is mystical and full of symbols and memories and such. I strongly prefer to think of dreams in roleplaying as a different level of consciousness and totally think elves should have significant and often prohpetic dreams.

As such, I sort of just don't buy this guy, but more as a matter of taste than anything else. I will say, he has an agenda, he is villainous, and I could reshape him into a demented murderer who keeps the party's attention. I wouldn't choose to, but you've given me something to work with and that's (sadly) in the minority so far this contest.

I like your veil a lot, but he doesn't need it to not dream, being a lich and all.


It sort of lost me at "Aelfric’s soul is housed in a dead but magical tree." From reading the other responses, it might have gotten better beyond that, but I couldn't read that sentence without giggling and failing to take it seriously.

Also, his ambitions seem wayyyy lofty. Doesn't everything essentially dream? So he's trying to ruin all of creation, but still has a sense of self-preservation? Wierd.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Eric Morton wrote:

Aelfric Dream-Slayer

Male human (reincarnated elf) lich druid

::double blink:: This guy is intriguing, but there are so many layers on layers of what he is that I get lost. I see the elf that now dreams wigging out, but why druid and then lich? Just so he didn't dream? I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around this one. Must ponder it more, but right now ... ::shrug::

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

Too busy. I'd spend forever trying to sort the elements out. The real gem here is the war against dreaming. I think it'd be somewhat more interesting if he focused on stopping dreams - and the world began to go more than a little bit mad as a consequence.

The idea of the war on dreams is good enough that this guy goes into my maybe pile.

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? yes / No
Can I use it? yes / No

End result: maybe

Marathon Voter Season 9

The elf to human reincarnation makes sense and is very cool, explains the hatred of dreams. But why over egg the pudding by making him a lich?
A cool and original idea, spoiled because the writer didn't no when to stop.

Marathon Voter Season 9

GolarionMidwife wrote:


Also, his ambitions seem wayyyy lofty. Doesn't everything essentially dream? So he's trying to ruin all of creation, but still has a sense of self-preservation? Wierd.

Compartmentalisation. The human mind is remarkably good at keeping contradictory ideas seperate from one another and not studying the effects they have one each other.


Zombieneighbours wrote:

The elf to human reincarnation makes sense and is very cool, explains the hatred of dreams. But why over egg the pudding by making him a lich?

A cool and original idea, spoiled because the writer didn't no when to stop.

I guess to stop dreaming, he had to do something. Becoming lich is rather extreme decision, I admit, but he seems to be making those.

Fascinating. I don't know if I dared to use this in RPG (while in a novel this would be very interesting character), but fascinating.

Dark Archive

So torn. I really like the name, a lot. The idea of attempting to get rid dreams to stop an invasion is a really cool idea. I also agree with the statement that it's nice to see a plain outright insane villain. While it's a stretch that having one bad dream would make you genocidal, I could see how suddenly being reincarnated as a different race would affect your mental stability.

The main problem that I have is that if he's careful enough to put non-dreamers in a position of power, wouldn't he maybe think of some way to just prevent the others from dreaming. The description says "Aelfric soon procured magic that sealed his own mind against dreams" before he was turned into a lich. It also says that he performs breeding programs. Why not cast the same spell on others or try to make a super half-elf.
Perhaps free lobotomies? I really feel that a once good character would explore the non killing alternatives before genocide.

But, I also like the concept. =)


Sorry, but having a hard time suspending disbelief with the whole 'kill all dreamers thing'. Too macro for that type of insanity. I think it would be more effective if he had more of a focus for his crazy compulsion. Maybe Aelfric can no longer distinguish between dream and reality, maybe he becomes obsessed with a particular dream that is actually part of waking world activity...
I like the image of the sinister grove. I like the obsession with aberrations.

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

I like it, and in terms of "destroy the world" ambitions this one has a unique and interesting twist. Maybe it's because I use complicated NPCs all the time, but I think the human-elf-lich trick is great. Are there some holes here? Sure. Did you go a bit over the top with him? Yeah. Do we want to start injecting real-world drama into what things dream and what things don't? HTF no! Just say he regards dreaming as "sentient dreaming" and in the default world elves don't do it.

Anyway, there are ample reasons for folks to vote against you, but I think there are equally interesting and perhaps more compelling reasons to vote for you.

I also happen to disagree with Clark, in that I like it a great deal that here is a clear-cut villain whom the PCs may very well end up working together with. Their final goals may well coincide. This happens plenty of times in comic books, with Dr. Doom working with the Fantastic Four for one reason or another, Magneto with the X-Men, Doomsday with Superman against Imperiex, and on down the list. When you are dealing with a foe "from beyond," old enemies become allies (shoot, even in Battletech/Mechwarrior with the Inner Sphere groups vs. the Clan invasion).

Even if the invasion is defeated, since Aelfric is crazy he will insist on going back to pursuing his plans "in case they come back AGAIN!!!" He will never believe the invasion, once stopped, cannot happen again, and then we go back to our regularly scheduled villain-vs-hero programming.

I think he works very well, and you'd go on the short list for one of my votes so far (tho not even halfway done).


I ended up going for other entries but this was my sixth-favorite entry. And if we were casting villains for fiction line and not RPGs, this would probably be my favorite.

He is crazy but I can get into the method in his madness.


I love the concept of hating dreams as Aelfric does, and I agree with others that the elf to human reincarnation is a good way to incorporate such a dislike. But I also agree that with those that don't see much reason for him to be a lich.

I could understand if he became a lich to keep himself from dreaming, but Aelfric had already attained a state that didn't dream before his transformation into an undead creature. The excuse of buying the time to implement his plans doesn't mesh well with the background, either; if the dream world is such a threat, why does this character need the time obtained by such a lifeless existence? Wouldn't such a pressing invasion be witnessed in his lifetime?

I also need to understand if this dream threat is real or imagined. The way the entry is written it could go either way, but to run such a villain correctly I need to know if he's delusional or if he actually possesses insight into a threat that has so far gone unnoticed.

In all, it's a really likable concept and I really want to play this villain. However, the concept's been stretched a tad thin; the themes reach too far and try to do too much, and as a result important and vital information is simply glossed over.


I know this has been used for the Realms before, but I had thought it had been mentioned in other settings as well, that elves, if they are sick or wounded, actually can sleep, and thus could dream. I think it might have cut out a layer of chaos to say that the lich was an elf that contracted a horrid plague, which caused him to dream for the first time in his life, etc.

There is a lot of good stuff, but way too many layers which I don't think will ultimately pan out in how the character would be played.

Liberty's Edge

interesting concept
interesting plans
need more development

hated the name... AELFric? another Eragon but in villian?
I don't dig this...

still the concept of the Dream-Aberration Invasion is a cool one

Scarab Sages

KnightErrantJR wrote:

I know this has been used for the Realms before, but I had thought it had been mentioned in other settings as well, that elves, if they are sick or wounded, actually can sleep, and thus could dream. I think it might have cut out a layer of chaos to say that the lich was an elf that contracted a horrid plague, which caused him to dream for the first time in his life, etc.

There is a lot of good stuff, but way too many layers which I don't think will ultimately pan out in how the character would be played.

Actually, if you read the "Physical Description" entry for Elves in the SRD/PHB, they flat out say that elves DO dream.

3.5 PHB wrote:
While meditating, an elf dreams

I, too, think that the elf-come-human-turned-lich could use with one less layer of obfuscation to his stats. In addition, reincarnation is subject to a lot of fuzzy interpretations about which racial traits you keep and which you lose, and that's gotta make round 3 harder for this entry.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Like the concept?
Not sure how to implement it in an adventure?

A vote for Aelfric is a vote for more information. Vote Aelfric!


Ed Greenwood wrote:

...Tilt: The “eliminating dreamers” idea still grabs me, but is the dream world real? It seems so, from the last adventure hook, so what world (or plane, or whatever) is it? Should I wander back through old D&D editions and pick a place “aberrations” can come from? I know I CAN, but what did the designer have in mind here? And why didn’t he tell me?

Overall: The idea still intrigues me, so I’m letting my heart overrule my head and saying I WANT to run with this one strongly enough that...

As far as I can understand from the Paizo Chatroom meetings which James Jacobs (Paizo's Dread Lord of Golarion) attends on a regular basis to answer questions, Golarion has a H.P. Lovecraft style 'Dreamlands' which can be accessed by the minds of dreamers, but also physically through rare rifts or by magical means. Indeed Leng has been mentioned briefly in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, at least one of the Runelords of Thassilon having trafficked with certain residents thereof.

So the dream world and the menace from it could actually be 'real', or just the deluded imagination of an elf unhinged by being reincarnated as a human. :D

Edit:
A few notes I edited together from a chat and posted a while back elsewhere on the boards:

Golarion’s version of Leng and the Dreamlands:

“James Jacobs” wrote:

Leng is a region inside of the Dreamlands, and the Dreamlands are like the ethereal plane. They're more properly termed a "dimension" that overlays the real world.

Dream probably overlays each planet; each planet has its own dreamlands, and in some cases, they share Dreamlands with other planets. I suspect Golarion's Dreamlands and Earth's Dreamlands are the same.
Leng is a region IN the Dreamlands. Each planet has its own Dreamlands, but in some cases, they share those dreamlands with other planets. Earth and Golarion's Dreamlands are the same, I think.
The dreamlands are VERY difficult to visit physically. Normally, you can only get there if you're a skilled dreamer.
Gate works though. You could certainly plane shift
to the Dreamlands, but I bet it's tough, since I bet the tuning fork focus only exists as a dream and that makes it hard to pick up in reality.
<A question was asked regarding Lovecraftian-style ghouls in Golarion, which might travel between the Dreamlands and the material plane>
Lovecraftian ghouls exist in Golarion. They live in the middle Darklands of Sekamina under Osirion, and certainly exist in the Dreamlands as well.


8/10

A pro-elf druidical lich. OK, that's interesting. Heck, it might make Haldon an interesting character to be used as a foil. Good staying power. I like it!


On the subject of my own thoughts on Aelfric, the lack of clarity between whether he is insane or rational and simply following an 'ends justify the means' philosophy leaves me not quite sure how to rate him. I've come across elves who for one reason or another want to exterminate/subjugate non-elven races before in fiction and in modules, and some of them make quite despicable (i.e. effective) villains if their motivation and goals are right. The broad brush strokes used to paint Aelfric are leaving me with a very fuzzy picture of him though, and I'm not sure if I like him enough to vote for him.
Information on which source he currently derives his druidic spells from might have been useful. (Although I'm not a fan of any kind of undead druid business.)

Will this villain cause the PCs grief?
High level undead spellcaster with an agenda of extermination (presumably including 'trials' suitable as encounters for lower level parties) - oh yes this villain will cause PCs grief. Unless the PCs all happen to be elves or plant creatures.


I like the general idea, the dreamworld thing is a kinda interesting idea, and have been a closet favorate of mine since Jordan introduced me to the World of Dreams in Wheel of Time. I do have to agree though, that the whole genocide thing is a bit of a over done villan chiche, so what if Aelfric didnt want to kill all dreamers, but get them to stop dreaming. Ideas for this could be:

A powerful spell that stops people from dreaming (similar to the nightmare spell).

Discovering a way to force people to trance.

Just a few helpful ideas Eric. And yes, this is the Malikor you know. Good to see ya.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Thanks for all the feedback.

And, Malikor, your mission is clear; you need to convince everyone to schedule game for some time and place I can actually make, so I have a sounding board for my ideas. :P


I think the lich part is unnecessary--the elf trying to figure out dreams is plenty good as it is. Otherwise, I like this.

Star Voter Season 6

I have to say, that if you're going to destroy dreams, there should have been a holy war into the dream world or have the fey be in charge of dreams. Killing all dreamers makes it look like Intelligence is Aelfric's dump stat.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Thank you for the feedback, roguerouge! Thank you very, very, VERY much for the feedback!

Edit: Just to reiterate. Thank you VERY MUCH for the feedback in the above post! That is very useful feedback.

Star Voter Season 6

No problem. I like the motivation of this villain--it's the most unique in the round--but maybe the next rounds give you the chance to buff the plot a bit. Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

I will, of course, keep plot-related feedback in mind. But I just want to make sure I specifically thank you for the feedback about Aelfric's possible stats. And about how his schemes seem to be indicating a particular dump stat.

There were no stat blocks allowed in this round, but I'm working on one just in case. So I'm particularly grateful for feedback that let's me know in advance whether my stat block captures reflects my villain, and vice versa.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar aka Leandra Christine Schneider

I have to admit, Aelfric sounded really weird to me at first and even put me off a little (maybe it is just because of my German, so forgive me for that)
BUT
Dream-Slayer, that totally turned it around. Totally.

Although I am wondering how exactly you'd pull this all off, I like the promise of this entry.
It has too much individual angles in my opinion, but that also means there is much to work with in the next round...and I am oh so curious. Especially when it comes to potentially vast stat-blocks.

Here is my vote.

(ahh...and the "veil" was cool too.)


roguerouge wrote:
I have to say, that if you're going to destroy dreams, there should have been a holy war into the dream world or have the fey be in charge of dreams. Killing all dreamers makes it look like Intelligence is Aelfric's dump stat.

Ahhh, excellent point. As a druid lich (the lich still rubs me up the wrong way, unfortunately) Aelfric isn't necessarily going to be the brghtest sunrod in the shop.

And the 'sensible' simplest solution to 'dreamers are a problem' might be to kill them all off.
If someone else suggested an alternative solution to him, more elegant but less dramatic, wouldn't he be capable of taking that on board though, and changing strategy?
Between you and Christine I may have to take another look at this villain when I shortly consider my votes for this round.

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

This is the 9th entry I've read, and it's the first that really grabbed me and gave me an interesting villain with a whole campaign of hooks you could use.

The whole aberations from the dream world reminded me a bit of Dal Quor from Eberron, without it being a carbon copy.

Finally, it's interesting to me that you used the elf-reincarnated angle, since if I had advanced, I was planning on also useing that, but then going in a completely different direction.

I still have a lot to read through, but this one is so far my first solid vote.

Liberty's Edge

You got my vote. This kinda reminds me of Ebberon's quori.
And in regards to him becoming a lich after getting spells to protect his mind:
Elves live a very long life. I think that Aelfric could have not only been perturbed by dreams, but also by his mortality. Fix the dreams, fix the life (and probably the spell[s] he devised aren't constant, so he would have to expend a 5th-level+ spell slot just to keep himself from dreaming each day).
And, ya know, this totally reminds me of the current Order of the Stick plot, with an elf so worried about dreaming that she/he refuses to trance.
One mechanic problem here: Elves do dream. I can see the elf being reincarnated, then having horrible nightmares in his new form, and being unused to a human body. But, yeah, elves do dream.


...but do elves dream like humans do? *throws bits of fluff around*

I have never been happy with resurrection spells, nor am I happy with reincarnation spells because, well, those things should really be damaging to your psyche.

The Exchange

I really, really liked the thinking with this guy's story. I've never seen anyone really play up the affects that a reincarnation would have on the mind to this extent, and for that I applaud.

My issue, though, is with choosing a druid class. Any other class, and this would get my vote immediately, but a druid is supposed to protect living creatures. I don't mind evil druids that kill when necessary, but an evil druid that's trying to destroy an entire section of the food chain?

I'd personally have liked to see this as a different archetype. Half-elf sorcerer or monk turned half-orc, maybe?

There's still a good chance that I'll come back and vote for this submission, but I'd like it known that it's not so much for the character itself as much as the fact that this submission has genuinely made me interested in what other things the author can concoct.

Scarab Sages

Demoyn wrote:
My issue, though, is with choosing a druid class. Any other class, and this would get my vote immediately, but a druid is supposed to protect living creatures.

No, they aren't. They're supposed to "revere nature" and "hate that which is unnatural" - such as aberrations attempting to enter the world through dreams. It's definitely insane, but it's not counter to what druids are "supposed to do". Druids are just as able to arbitrarily destroy life (such as a tornado or wildfire does) as they are to protect and shelter life.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Easy choice for my first vote.

Lich is nearly an auto-win button for me (being one myself). I personally - and in direct contravention to most mainstream folk - find villains with with too much a human side (coughMagnetocough) to be immensely boring. Aefric is not one of those villains. I like Aelfric's logic; it's very Lich (no such thing as 'overkill' in our book...) One sees the following conversation with his Black Captain...

Aelfric: "Bad things are in dreams, so I'll stop them by killing everyone who has dreams! Muahahaha!"

Captain: "Sir, don't you think that's a bit drastic?"

Aelfric: "Yes.

"Oh yes. It is.

"But it will work."

Captain: "Yes, my lord. I shall commense preparation at once!"

Mechanically? Hells, yes! Most powerful class in game? Check. Lich? Check. Let party pawnage commence.

Druid is good, making him a really nasty combatant in his own right. He practically demands a simiarly lich-like animal companion. After all, what's worse? A dude with his dinosaur who shapeshifts into a dinosaur while bespelling your ass or a dude with his skeleton dinosaur who shapeshifts into a skeletal Tyrannosaur while bespelling your ass and paralysing you at the same time!

Awesome.


This entry made it far enough in my estimation to reach the level of me being picky. I don't have a dozen votes, so unfortunately, picky is what I have to be at some point. So, basically, this is a cool villain, I do like him, and I hope he gets through to the next round; he's in the top sixteen from this round, in my estimation.

On the downside, though, him being a lich was just going that bit too far in my mind. It wasn't necessary for the basic character and (unfortunately for you) makes him that little bit harder to fit into my campaign. So I have rejected him on what, I freely admit, are pretty flimsy grounds. Had to happen to someone...


I like, but the entry has flaws. Does the dream world really exist? If so, where is it and what is it? As per other comments, do PCs align with this character? Entry is not through or not clearly presented. The task is to design a villain foe use in D&D, not write a blurb for the dust jacket of a book. I think many entries fell into this trap. This will not make my final four, but maybe others will see it differently.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka DankeSean

A druid lich? Okay, that's one I haven't seen a hundred times before, you got my attention pretty much right off the bat. I'm a big ol' druid fan, but unfortunately a lot of entries this round proved that they're difficult to make major villains without either limiting their motivations too badly or going to a cliche.

Aelfric doesn't come hampered like that; he's got big, big goals right off the bat that don't limit themselves to being grumpy about adventurers failing to put out their campfires. I like the idea of living in terror of dream creatures; as someone else mentioned above, it's reminiscent of the Quorri from Eberron. If I were currently DMing an Eberron game, in fact, Aelfric would be snagged nearly unaltered for a recurring villain.

Issues with Aelfric have been brought up; other people have mentioned the basic issue of elves still dreaming when trancing, but that's easily overlooked, being an easy misread. Honestly, though, the whole 'reincarnated elf' part seems unneccesary to me in the first place; it makes the backstory a bit more convoluted than neccesary, and strikes me more as being added after the basic concept was decided, sort of 'how can I justify WHY he's afraid of dreams?', rather than having been part of the concept from the getgo. If that's the case... I think you would have been better served finding another angle to use to justify his dream phobia. Also it could be arged that 'villain doing horrible things for the greater good' angle is overdone in itself, but then if I'd made it through to the top 32 my villain would have fallen into that trope as well, so not gonna deduct points for that. :-)

In the end, Aeflric got my vote. For being the best and most original of many druid concepts this round, for playing around with the wacky fun that is evil dream critters, and for demonstrating that you definitely are capable of big ideas that warrant being kept around for further development. Best of luck in advancing.

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