Count Falconbridge, Fate's Adversary


Round 2: Create a villain concept

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Count Falconbridge, Fate's Adversary
Male Human Fighter 4/Wizard 8/Eldritch Knight 3

Description:
Count Falconbridge is an unnerving figure. A tall man with short dark hair and a sturdy build, his defining feature is his left eye: a lidless, ruined, milky-white orb surrounded by a jagged scar. His remaining eye is hazel in colour. Among his robes are many pendants, rings, and other charms. Underneath, he wears ornate armour with a sword at his side. He has an air of authority and discipline.

Background:
The second son of a noble, Vincent Falconbridge was assured a post in the military. During a skirmish, he was struck down by a near-fatal blow to the head. Though horribly scarred, he survived, but the event changed him forever. Through his blinded eye, he perceived a vision; one he interpreted to mean that, although death had failed to claim him, it would return. Further, the "prophecy" revealed to him the way to avoid his fate. Accordingly, he gathered his surviving regiment, returned home and promptly slew his reigning brother. The visions did not stop, however, and continued to display his impending doom. With each new prophecy the Count is compelled to increasingly sinister action in order to escape his destiny. In order to gain fealty of his subjects, the Count has announced that his visions foretell a great catastrophe that only he can avert.

Motivations and Goals:
Selfish and delusional, Count Falconbridge is driven by his visions. Terrified of his own death, he fervently believes that his prophecies are real and hold the key to his survival. He will do whatever it takes, no matter how monstrous, in order to meet the demands of his visions. All who question the validity of his visions, his interpretations, or his edicts must be eliminated.

Short-term goal: Self-preservation: the threat of death is a problem that must be overcome daily for Count Falconbridge. As ruler, he enjoys the authority to make immediate change through law. His method is to outlaw any danger he forsees.

Long-term goal: Destroying Fate: Count Falconbridge wishes to master the secrets of divining, through any means, so that he might unravel fate herself and claim victory over her.

Adventure Hooks:
- The local area is flooded by a group of refugees - profits and soothsayers fleeing for their lives. The Count has ordered the death of all diviners whose predictions are contrary to his own. They beg the PCs to rescue those left behind.

- During other adventures, the PCs become the targets of strange, clairvoyant assassins. The Count has had another of his visions and this time he has interpreted that the PCs must be eliminated before their actions lead to his demise.

- The PCs find themselves required to give over some of their magic, services, or treasure as per the Count's new edict.

- After the Count is defeated, the PCs discover that his "visions" originate from somewhere else. Who, or what, was sending them? Why?

Contributor

Initial Impression: A deployable, vivid, “love to hate this one” villain.

Concept: Insane but pragmatic, driven by visions local ruler or crazed noble. Nothing very new, but the concept is a well-established one because it works.

Execution: Strongly and clearly described, with vital DMing information (short-term and long-term goals) given right up front. The hooks directly involve PCs.

Tilt: Unpredictable villains can be a pain to DMs and storytellers, not just the players whose characters have to deal with them. This character presents an opportunity for the villain to have not just self-serving visions, but “wider” ones leading him to encourage or cause actions with wider consequences (the reason for this being the last adventure hook given). The vision thing rescues this NPC from being just the “nasty noble” cliché.

Overall: Simple, straightforward, no-key-elements-missed presentation of a solid PC foe who can readily be portrayed in play in such a way as to become a vivid, strongly-loathed villain. Reading the entry inspires me to want to use Count Falconbridge, so the design work is successful.

Recommendation: Recommended for advancement.

Contributor

Okay, technically this guy is insane, but he's not giggly-insane, or self-destructive-insane, he's just "I'm seeing visions and must act on them" insane, which, in a world where the gods and supernatural forces sometimes act on people in this way, isn't really too out of the ordinary.

He has a lot of power at his disposal, and isn't afraid to use it.
His actions can reel in the PCs or inadvertently hamper them.
He can work against the PCs if his visions tell him it's necessary.
He could even work as a villain in a courtly campaign that doesn't involve dungeon crawls.

He meets all of our example points for being a villain, gives the GM plenty to work with, and is flexible enough to work in different campaign styles.

Rec: advance to next round.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Initial Impression: I’m worried that this is just some boring quasi-medieval villain. I guess I am just tired of all-to-medieval fantasy gaming. I don’t want the Sherrif of Nottingham. I want Evar-Kan, Scythe of the Crimson Flood or something. I don’t know. I’m just riffing here… But I don’t want boring.

Word Count: 494.

Concept (name, title, is it actually a villain?, overall design choices, playability): C+
The Good:. Visions. Well, OK. That can work. He got whacked upside the head and has visions. “Impending doom” and “sinister action” sounds good. Selfish, delusional and terrified of his own death. Those are villain concepts I can get behind.
The Bad: Falconbridge? Really? That’s all you got? I’m worried about this getting boring. The head trauma thing isn’t really the villain creation story I was hoping for. I kept saying “that’s it”?

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: He is clearly motivated and he does bad stuff. I like the clairvoyant assassins. That’s a nice touch.
The Bad: I just don’t know how that puts him on a collision course with the PCs. And I think the visions thing is too vague. What does he have visions of? What is his MOST RECENT vision? I want to know that stuff. I don’t think you got me inside this guy enough.

Tilt (did it grab me?, is it unique and cool?, do I like it?, flavor and setting): C
Sorry, didn’t hook me.

Overall: C+
I think a great fantasy villain takes more than a bonk on the head and some unnamed visions.

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

From the author of the mongoose claw! I wish you luck and hope the voters see it differently than I did! I note you have some good company on your side in Mssr’s Greenwood and Reynolds. Perhaps I just didn’t get it.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Nobles and aristos have a long pedigree as villains, but you put a new spin on this with the visions, the clairvoyant assassins, and the hatred of prophets (note the spelling) and soothsayers. That puts this well beyond standard medievalism and right into pulp sword-and-sorcery. And the step to put the voices/visions as the next foe for the PCs is a solid if not hugely original bit of design.

I like the take on "madness" here, in the sense that the Count is a bit off-kilter and everyone knows it. Who cares about the details of the backstory? Not I. It's unnecessary beyond "He came home with a scar and killed his own brother."

Looking at campaign use, I think he'd be fun to turn into a longer term-villain, especially if he actually does WIN against fate, and gains powers of divination that make him very, very difficult to kill. That seems the logical next step for the character, and it's a smart way of making him survivable long-term while staying within the constraints of the Pathfinder setting.

The count is the villain who knows what you are up to, and that's very, very scary.

Recommendation: Recommended to advance. Anyone who commands clairvoyant assassins gets my support!

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

I like him! I've always wanted to do a divinations-theme villain, and Count Falconbridge delivers.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Thank you so much for your insights. Getting feedback from the professionals is a great experience.

To everyone else I say thank-you in advance for your comments, I'll be back to comment myself once the round is over.

I count on your vote for the Count!
(please don't hold that terrible joke against me).


This was one of the better villains, in my book, for two reasons:

1) The villain has believable motivations, which inform clear goals.
2) The PCs must put a stop to his villainy.

Many of the villains presented lacked one or both of these ingredients, which I feel are essential for a long-term bad guy. Falconbridge also reminds me of MacBeth, which certainly doesn't hurt!


I'd like to have been told more about the visions that Count Falconbridge has had, but I also understand that with 500 words to work with, that it probably wouldn't have been in your best interests to go in to further depth. Again, I'll cite my love of villains who are certifiably insane, and act on that insanity.

I like that he's remained in power where his evil can have widespread effects. Also, because of his position, he can justifiably have a lot of interesting lackeys and servitors, which is always great for an extended campaign. The long term goal is interesting and is flexible enough that different GMs could take it in all kinds of great directions. Well done.

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.)
Coolness3
(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 Score16

Scarab Sages Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

If we had more votes, this would be my #5, I'm sure you'll get enough votes without my vote though.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

This is an excellent villain! He might be problematic in the Age of Lost Omens, however, considering that divination is a bit wonky, but maybe that's his weak underbelly. Otherwise, how do the PCs ever sneak up on him?!

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

Con:
It almost has a concentration camp kind of feel, but I don't see why people would follow this guy and let him rise in power so much.

Pro:
Clairvoyant assassins? cool!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Intriguing twist on the "crazy noble" ... consistant and solid. Good job!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Winterwalker wrote:
I don't see why people would follow this guy and let him rise in power so much.

I assume that his prophecies give him the ability to sniff out any dissenters and deal with them properly.

Star Voter Season 6

"The Bad: I just don’t know how that puts him on a collision course with the PCs. And I think the visions thing is too vague. What does he have visions of? What is his MOST RECENT vision? I want to know that stuff. I don’t think you got me inside this guy enough."

I could not agree with you more. I won't be voting for this one.

Put yourself in the place of the people of this nation: what reason did they give for regicide? how has that impacted the nation? how does he have the support/indifference of the nation's powers that be? have any of these "prophecies" actually worked out? what great catastrophe? and who, oh mighty wizard of Oz, is the source of your visions? 'Cause those are the questions I'd ask as a PC if I was faced with this guy as an antagonist.

Taking the entry as given, the reason that this works for the citizens in the setting is... "Because." That's not going to cut it.

And you know what? Prophecies are incredibly hard to pull off without sounding dumb, goofy, or forced. You need to give guidance to the DM here. I have no idea at the end of this entry how to run this hook or how to make it sound impressive.

And the secrets of divination will unravel fate itself? Seriously? There's no McGuffin? No Random Chance artifact? Nothing that would give him even odds against a lore master?

And it's prophets, not profits.

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

Compared to the others so far, this villain is motivatred, powerful, original and committed to a course of action that is wholly evil. He wouldn't be the major villain of a campaign I run, but he might make a nice backdrop as an ally of a bigger villain. Not bad, and certainly above most of the ones I've read so far.

Good luck in the voting booth!


I'm just not sure on this one. It's definitely up there, and the idea is sort of novel, I suppose. I like this take on rationalized insanity, that's for sure.

I do love the name, though. It's just so ludicrously out of the ordinary. It's like the Haunted Shoes from the first round; when I saw the name, I knew I would like the enty, no matter what.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16 aka Clandestine

Seems like me and James hold a grudge against left eyes. Hello there, brother-villain. :)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Clandestine wrote:
Seems like me and James hold a grudge against left eyes. Hello there, brother-villain. :)

Wesley Lee too! Weird coincidence eh?

Marathon Voter Season 9

I like it. A really solid basic concept with an interesting character built around it. But i really don't think it will be getting my vote, i really want to vote for something that is more original than this.

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: Yes

Vote: Yes! Thank you for finally giving me a villain, after more than 8 reviews I was wondering if the lucky 32 forgot that it was the villain round.

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

I'm kinda torn on this one. I like that he is a villain with specific goals and motivations, and as someone posted upthread they are hooks that directly impact or involve the PCs. They don't just come upon him in the midst of some evil plot, where they may or may not be interested. Instead, he has his reasons for coming after THEM and they need to figure out WTF PDQ or it's RIP. :)

That said, the writing and backstory don't grab me by the throat and shake me like a rag doll about this guy being super cool and I gotta use him in my campaign now Now NOW!!!!

On balance, though, I think it's probably good enough. I think he works as a villain and has everything that you need to play him. It's a solid entry, and a solid B should move you on, but you may need to bring it harder next round to keep going.

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

The best of this are the visions. I'd like the entry to have explained if they are real, implanted, or imagined - I think that's a poor choice of a face-down card. Imagined, he's a poor villain, and a sure no vote for me. Real or implanted (by some malign entity) has more potential, I'd probably go with the second. Unfortunately, the hints lead be to believe he's just self-deluded.

The divination angle makes up for the overused one-eyed villain.

I too like the clairovoyant assassins. Evil diviners get underused.

A strong contender in my "maybe" pile. I'll come back and read it again, and see if I can talk myself out of him just being insane.

Dark Archive

Not a fan of the name.

With that said, I really like this character. It makes me think of the rulers who have used the divine right of kings to further their personal agendas above the good of the people. Fear of death, prophetic visions about those who would destroy you, and the means to protect yourself with power and nobility equals a classic villain for me. While not totally original, he is a villain that could fit into a lot of campaigns and he has a reason to cross paths with the PCs.


Count Falconbridge makes for an antagonist whom at least PC's will find difficult to ignore, if he's coming after them with assassins and decrees proclaiming them dangerous subversives.
The crazy visions also allow a DM the excuse for the Count to do anything.
The source of those visions not being revealed is a bad thing however. I'm left with the impression that the writer didn't know or at least hadn't quite made their mind up where the visions came from when the time arrived for the entry to be turned in. Most divinations/prophecies haven't functioned too well since Aroden's demise, but if someone else is feeding these images to the Count (and presumably carrying out a lot of scrying/divination themself) then that's another matter altogether....

Will this villain cause the PCs grief?
Yes. When a 15th level character with wealth and rank comes after the PCs, or even simply decides to make their lives a misery in one way or another, he is almost certainly going to cause them grief.

Dark Archive

The 'clairvoyant assassins' thing really piqued my interest for this one.

It reminded me of the Realms city of Mulmaster, an evil place in the grip of a group of diviners who function as 'secret police.' Sinister and creepy, like the society from 1984, run by mages. The genre could use more evocative use of divination.


6/10

Hmm. The execution's not all I'd want, but I like the idea here, especially if unwound gradually enough and with enough plausibility to get the PCs initially on his side, ask themselves some hard philosophical questions...

Liberty's Edge

damn!
very good story, as Clark I don't exactly like his name, but I can live above it...

Ilike this villian a lot... for me he would be the 5th on my list... I will have to meditate if I take one of the ones I already voted for... but my mind is already on my choose... would have liked to find this one earlier... I like this villain a lot.

If you pass (and I hope you do) I would like to seethe mechanics ofhis visions and how they translate into protecting him from death.

Dark Archive

The other thing that I really really like about this villain is that characters with good enough bluff or diplomacy might actually convince the Count that they're on his side or that they have seen another vision of his demise. I'm not saying that the could totally play him for long, but they might be able to steer him to certain courses through his paranoia.


I'm a sucker for a villain you can love to hate to love to....well, you get the idea :)

I'm crazy for the count - this one gets my vote for sure.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

The Count may count on my vote. :P (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Seriously though I really liked this one. It's been tough for me, I've voted yes on only 1 other villain. So... Count Falconbridge, Fate's Adversary gets vote #2. Good Luck! (Looking forward to the stat block for him.)

Dean; The Minstrel Wyrm


This is the only one that I liked immediately. I'm still in a toss up to find my other three votes. Best of luck!

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 one immediately grabbed my attention. I can easily see using him as a campaign spanning villain for PCs that grow up in Falconbridge, or a mid level adversary for when the PCs visit there. Either way, this guy has lots going for him, wealth, power (political and magical) and a crazy dead eye that gives him visions. I especially liked the last hook that gives this villain expansion possibilities even after the PCs kill him.

After reading 12 of the entires, this is only my 2nd solid vote. Great job!


This is a cool villain, with some interesting henchmen, a not-so-cliched motivation, and some potential use in a campaign. But, for some reason, he just didn't stand out that much for me. I have a feeling that the players may remember the clairvoyant assassins longer than they remember who was employing them, so he fails to get one of my votes. Good luck, though!


I like this one. On my initial read through the entries, I felt this ws the best to date. I like the "misguided by visions" hook. He's only trying to protect himself. There a re many ways for the PCs to defeat the him. Definitely makes my top six.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Well, the voting is over.

I know I thanked people in advance, but I wanted to come back and thank everyone again.

Thank you for your praise. I am really pleased that people out there enjoy my creation as much as I do. I appreciate you coming to my thread and telling me so, it means a lot.

Thank you for your criticism. As always, it is good to have people raise questions and point out errors or problems. Above all, this contest is a learning experience and it wouldn't work without your constructive feedback.

I am looking forward to the next round and if I manage to advance I will be sure to expand upon Count Falconbridge.

...and of course, special gratitude goes to those of you who voted for the Count!

Thanks again everyone!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka kid america

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

Keep up the good work.


Congratulations on advancing! Looking forward to your next contribution.


Congratulations on making it to the top sixteen, and good luck with the stat block round.


Clark Peterson wrote:
I don’t want the Sherrif of Nottingham. I want Evar-Kan, Scythe of the Crimson Flood or something.

Sounds great! Maybe his evil Aunt Flow can accompany him, you know, for 5-7 days every month.

Might fly in an all-girl campaign, but otherwise I seriously doubt it!

-Miss Moon

PS: Sorry, I couldn't help myself!

Star Voter Season 6

Miss Moon wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:
I don’t want the Sherrif of Nottingham. I want Evar-Kan, Scythe of the Crimson Flood or something.

Sounds great! Maybe his evil Aunt Flow can accompany him, you know, for 5-7 days every month.

Might fly in an all-girl campaign, but otherwise I seriously doubt it!

-Miss Moon

PS: Sorry, I couldn't help myself!

LOL.

And congratulations for making the next round.


suikoden?

Sovereign Court

Congratulations!

Nova Scotia represents!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Guy Humual wrote:

Congratulations!

Nova Scotia represents!

Those who like me, like me a lot!

Sovereign Court

Mistah J wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:

Congratulations!

Nova Scotia represents!

Those who like me, like me a lot!

Keith's for the win. :)

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