Boemundo, Unliving Oblivion


Round 2: Create a villain concept

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

Boemundo, Unliving Oblivion
Male wraith fighter 10th
Description:
A whirlwind of black smoke rises up in the air; a strange black stone floats in it’s midst. As the smoke takes shape, a humanoid form is revealed wearing armor and holding a large sword. Inside his chest, the dreaded stone pulses like a heart. The wraith’s eyes meet the spellcaster’s and flare in crimson hatred.

An excellent warrior, capable tactician and enthusiast historian, Boemundo diForenzzo would quickly rise to garrison command of Brenno. Such was his success that, soon, the city would become impervious to raids and assaults.
So it came with a shock when, eight years later, an army of spell-enhanced soldiers annihilated all patrols and laid siege to the city. Message after message was sent asking for help from nearby cities, but none ever came.
As months went by, desperation set in over Brenno. Refusing to surrender, Boemundo resorted to ancient texts. Help came in the words of an explorer and what he called Heart of Oblivion, a powerful stone which could disrupt magic.
Boemundo ordered Brenno’s best magicians to craft such wonder. The magical item, he believed, would be essential in defeating their enemies and breaking the siege once and for all.
When the strange black stone was finished, Boemundo assembled his elite warriors. Despite the magicians’ warnings of the dangers of using the stone, that night Brenno’s best slipped out of the city walls and sneaked towards the enemy camp.
As the battle began, Boemundo used the stone to dispel the powerful magic that made his enemies invincible. Allies and enemies would fall victim to the Heart’s hunger for life. By the end, Boemundo himself lay lifeless in the field of victory.
Wisps of black, fluid smoke took shape above the battleground, causing the discarded stone to float in the air. Before the astonished eyes of survivors, Boemundo returned as one of the undead. His shining armor black and deformed, his once noble face distorted as an angry skull with blood red eyes. Trapped inside his incorporeal body, the stone, the Heart of Oblivion, pulsed with hatred for magic and the living.
It was time for vengeance.

Motivations/Goals:
Boemundo’s return as a wraith seems to have clouded much of his memory. Driven by anger, what remains in Boemundo's mind is vengeance. Especially against what he judges responsible for his tragedy: magic. Far from a simple wraith, much of his living experience and intelligence remains, including the mind of an experienced military officer.

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
Boemundo plans on using his brilliant mind and experience to first take vengeance upon Brenno’s arcane school, then use his newly created minions to retake command of the city garrison. Only then will Boemundo turn his eyes towards his master plan: a witch hunting campaign to erase the evils of magic from this world. And the Heart of Oblivion trapped in his unliving essence will once again be the key to his victory.

Contributor

Initial Impression: An undead ruler, of whom we learn a vivid origin, but not enough else.

Concept: A wraith with a magic-drinking magic item inside him that “hungers for life.” I wish I knew enough more about him to even know how to use him as a monster, let alone a recurring villain.

Execution: Minor errors in English and a few too many trips to the well of verbal cliché in the prose, but there are larger problems. We get caught up in the origin tale, but never learn the nature of the “invincible” foe that the magic item was able to defeat, or the precise properties and limiations of the item (which must be known quantities, being as the “best magicians” of Brenno created it after Boemundo gave his consent or order), and what those powers are now. How can they affect opponents in battle, how do they affect Boemundo’s wraith powers (if they do), and what are his motivations? He died, or passed into undeath, defending his city; is that still his guiding ambition? If so, how is he “deployable” against PCs? (Yes, I can think of many ways, but I need adventure hooks that tell me more of what Boemundo has become. If I snatch up a treasure of Brenno, will Boemundo pursue me across the world? Or send agents after me, while he lurks in the city guarding it? Or do nothing but await my return, to destroy me then?)

Tilt: The story interests me in the living Boemundo, and I want to know more about the undead one. Unfortunately, I get nothing but a vivid physical description (that’s lacking some important details; so, this wraith can carry the magic stone along, floating with it, without it falling and shattering? Okay, what about the classic “wraith squirts like smoke through tiny gap” situation? What happens to the stone? If it turns to something like smoke, again, what are the limits to its magic-drinking abilities?)

Overall: Vividly-presented idea that’s not developed.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

This reads more like an obituary or a description of a cursed magic item than a description of a villain.

His motivation is "kill spellcasters." Not very interesting.
His plot hooks are "take over his town, and then the world." Not very interesting.

We hear a lot about Boemundo the living man and almost nothing about Boemundo the wraith. Imagine if all you knew about Darth Vader was what you saw in the Star Wars prequels; you'd have none of the dark charisma, the willingness to kill minions for their failures, the fear and respect that his mere presence commands. That's what you have here--an origin story that doesn't give you much inspiration for using the character as he is now, no sense of why he's a cool villain to use against your NPCs.

Rec: do not advance.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

This is an insufficient submission in my view. Its a big backstory but then a failure to include the other mandatory and necessary information.

I DO NOT recommend this villain for advancement.

The Exchange Kobold Press

This is exactly why backstory is so often a waste of time for a smart designer. You spend a lot of time on the past, and not enough on the present, where the PCs are presumably waiting for a worthy villain.

And the entry does seem very focussed on the magic item. If the item WERE the villain (a la the One Ring) that would be interesting. But it's the mysterious wraith text that is supposed to provide the DM with rich campaigning, and I don't see that in what's written here.

Recommendation: As it stands, I can't recommend this for advancement.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

Thank you for your comments. Really. In fact, what you all said was what I was afraid of from the start.

I can only hope this helps me improve my work and that the voters give me the chance to develop this idea and show I can be a RPG Superstar.

Thank you.

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

Yeah. Waay too much backstory for me, thank you.

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.)
Coolness1
(Would my players be impressed by this? Am I?)
Credibility3
(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 Score12

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

Got too busy with the description that I got no real good sense of motivation and goals. I proof reader could of helped here to spot some mistakes that hurt it further.

Too much back story getting in the way of design and concept.


I like aspects of the backstory, but it seems like you focused too much on your item from last round and not enough on your villain for this round. This would make a good "boss monster" for an adventure, but I don't think there's enough here for a full-fledged villain.

CR

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

Who is his villain? Where did his backstory take him? What can he REALLY do? How can be greater than just another adversary?

Vote Boemundo and find out!


Okay, as Corrosive Rabbit observes, you've incorporated your item entry from last round; I'm afraid that you've focused too much on giving us details of the backstory, and not enough on what is Boemundo doing right now? You said that he retained his mind and knowledge, but you haven't given us any details of what he's doing with them.
What you've presented, as it currently stands, is just a monster. I'm sad that you've been caught in the backstory trap, although having seen some of your pieces of short fiction posted on the 'Tales From Golarion' thread on these boards, I can see how easy it would have been to do that; but word count is a cruel mistress, and you could have given us a few hints that you'd thought of a really amazing history for the villain, to make us want see more of what you could do, whilst focusing much mre on the present. I don't know if, in despite of the paucity of detail on current activities, you've done enough to make people want to vote for you.

Will this villain cause the PCs grief?
Probably in combat. Unclear otherwise.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Unfortunately, this struck me as more an expanded history for a gnarly, nasty magic-item, not the villain. Sorry.

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

If I came upon a wraith in an adventure, his description might look like this. It's a monster or a single encounter. If you wanted a villain, describe what he's doing in the world now. What are the requirements of the stone? What became of his elite warriors? Are they scouring the countryside for sorcerers and executing them?
Do the local nobility know and fear this guy, maybe with a few old loyalists hoping he wins control and starts his antimagic crusade?

Monster with an alright (overdeveloped, though) backstory. Not a villain, and not well developed outside of "wraith + class levels + magic stone".

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

Names - say the name outloud. Try a few different ways of reading it. If any of them make you groan or giggle, change them. I've failed on that myself a number of times. Assuming I'm right and it's "Bo" like "Bo Duke" and "Mundo" like Spanish for World, argh.

Other than that, nothing much to add here. He's an interesting and tragic monster, but I feel better suited to a brief encounter than a lasting relationship - alas, D&D enemies, so often fated to a one-night stand.

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

grab: Yes
useful: no

Vote: no

Liberty's Edge

the initial description shows me more a monster than a villain, and I agree I see more the stone as the villain, using Boemundo body and then spirit to do its darks deeds

need more hooks, gaveme ideas, but not enough... a shame, I have enjoyed your fan fiction somewhere else in the forums... still need more to read.

Star Voter Season 6

A counter example: the Ring wraiths of Lord of the Rings. They're tainted by the ring, but the ring isn't the villain; they are. They're lieutenants to Sauron, yes. But they're ongoing, scary nasties. The presence of a powerful, evil item does not make the item more central than the creature that bears it.


I would like to say, I have some comments, having read this presentation...

The grammatical choices made in this presentation is what really broke this for me. As I read through this, I thought that if you were to imagine Captain Kirk reading it (or heard it read with a "movie previewer" voice) that it would sound better. More natural sentance flow would have greatly helped this presentation.

If I had to read a whole module that read like this presentation I would be sending it back to Paizo and asking for a refund.


2/10

Just a monster, really. "He used to have a personality, but now that he's a wraith he done forgot all that."

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

Neat backstory, good tie-in to your magic item from last round, and nice description, but...

alas, not a very useful or interesting villain. Too much about his past, not enough about his present or future.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

It does have motivations and plans... its just hidden there... somewhere!

I guess Ive set the Perception DC a bit too high ;)

Star Voter Season 6

The Villain's plans would be these:

jmberaldo wrote:
Boemundo plans on using his brilliant mind and experience to first take vengeance upon Brenno’s arcane school, then use his newly created minions to retake command of the city garrison. Only then will Boemundo turn his eyes towards his master plan: a witch hunting campaign to erase the evils of magic from this world. And the Heart of Oblivion trapped in his unliving essence will once again be the key to his victory.

1. Kill a school, make them his unholy minions.

2. Use minions to take over the garrison, creating enough minions for an army.
3. Begin witch-hunt to eliminate magic from the globe.

Bwhahahahahah!

Local, regional, then global.

You don't have to like the submission, but it clearly has a plan.


I actually didn't much care for the Heart of Oblivion, but I actually *do* really like Boemundo.

He would be a very immediate threat to a party, and as such would seem to be more of an encounter than villain, but I could easily see him escaping to "haunt" them again. Especially if driven off by some form of magic.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I have to agree here that this is a great backstory, and nice round 1 item tie in, but not enough is presented of the villain. This is a shame, since I actually like the intelligent wraith warlord as something a bit different for an adversary. Most undead villains are liches, vampires or mummies, so the change is nice. However, with a limited number of votes, I can't cast one for a partial success. I'd put this at the bottom of my maybe category.


This is, in my view, a good write-up of a wraith, and I liked it more than the judges did, so I'd quite like to see it advance. Nonetheless, nothing truly sparks my interest enough for me to want to give it a vote. Yes, it's a good wraith, but, basically, it is just a wraith, albeit with some extra resources. Good luck, and hope to see you in the next round, though!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

Thank you for your comments! It seems like at least SOME people got that Perception check across ;)

Well, as I can not go without saying, vote Boemundo and find out how he can be the villain of your nightmares ;)

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

I like this guy as a villian. I agree that more time - and wordcount - should have been spent on his present actions and abilities rather than his backstory, but otherwise this entry grabs me. I vote to keep this one.


Seems you were going in a few conflicting directions with him. You add up a lot of interesting personality bits to him as a live man, then throw most of them away as soon as he becomes a wraith. Never surrenders, ignores warnings from magicians who know more about this stuff than him, assaults an enemy camp with just his strike team, master tactician, ends up killing his men through the Heart, his city is left alone by all the cities he asks for help from. Then he becomes a wraith and loses some of his memory, but not all. It seems like the Heart's powers (which I haven't reviewed from Round 1 after reading Boemundo's entry) are more important to you than Boemundo.

Why doesn't he turn his vengeance upon the cities who abandoned him? Do his men blame him for killing most of them with uncontrolled magic or praise him for saving the city? Why is his hate of magic so broad, rather than a focus on the guys who besieged his city? Why doesn't he continue to try make his city impervious? (An interesting base for a wraith, anyway.) A lot of generalities overrode the interesting specific bits about him.

Plus if this huge siege has just ended, then the city's in bad straits. If everyone sees him return as a wraith on the battlefield, then starts zapping people to be new wraiths, PLUS is madly focused on magic, why hasn't someone dealt with him already? There's a whole bunch of magic-item-making mages back in town, how are they handling all this? And if the PCs are involved, they would have to be on the scene pretty quick!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

Keep me in the competition and you will get all your answers ;)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka kid america

Congratulations Joao on making it to the RPG Superstar Sweet Sixteen. (applause, applause, applause)

Keep up the good work.


Well, you have dodged one bullet and somehow managed to make the top 16.
Time to take the gloves off, and to produce something amazing.
Congratulations.


Update:
In case it is of use, *Link to the ghost villain in Round 3 of last year's contest*.
Torquil did not advance his writer to Round 4.

If Boemundo turns up again with stat block in Round 4, one question I will be wanting answered is do living men who served under him still act as followers and/or a cohort out of loyalty to their commander - loyalty which transcends even the gap between the living and the (un)dead? Did he and does he have the Leadership feat, and if not, why not?

Anyway, good luck, whatever you go with.


EEAAAiii!!! Brazil over gain!!!

Star Voter Season 6

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Update:

If Boemundo turns up again with stat block in Round 4, one question I will be wanting answered is do living men who served under him still act as followers and/or a cohort out of loyalty to their commander - loyalty which transcends even the gap between the living and the (un)dead? Did he and does he have the Leadership feat, and if not, why not?

Seconded.


Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Update:

If Boemundo turns up again with stat block in Round 4, one question I will be wanting answered is do living men who served under him still act as followers and/or a cohort out of loyalty to their commander - loyalty which transcends even the gap between the living and the (un)dead? Did he and does he have the Leadership feat, and if not, why not?

Based on his LIVING backstory, yes he should have it. The real trick is who follows him now? He did nuke a good portion of his elite followers with an out-of-control magic item, then comes back as undead. Good times, henchmen!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka jmberaldo

Stay tuned for ACTION, DRAMA and TERROR, this Tuesday, only at Paizo! ;)

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