Varstrius, Connoisseur of Living Dolls


Round 3: Design a villain

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This villain gives me the creeps. And if you've watched enough episodes of Criminal Minds or Law And Order SVU, you know that this archetype has the potential to even that more decadent in their psychosis.

If there were a 'mature' line of modules, this is your guy who's going to be the (tragic) villain.

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

Worst villain so far. FIrst, the name is a great example of overpromising and under delivering. A connoisseur samples variety and makes himself an expert on the vagaries of his hobby. This is jsut a litle boy who fractured and never quit adjusted to not being able to help his sister. Even then, I have to supply the human drama. If you're going to offer me a connosseur, give me someone who collect 'living dolls' of every type: someone who draws inspiration from a wax museum, or whose toy store was put out of business when the local orphanage closed down.

Second, the pic and the idea hardly complement one another.

Third, why is he a ranger? Did he take a job as a forest rescue guy, and one day realized he didn't have to bring missing children back? Wanting to add favored enemy to your stat block is not a good reason to choose the archetype.

Fourth, stat blocks: normally, you wouldn't see Power Attack already figured into the presented stat. It makes more work to un-figure your plan than to figure it. Suppose half my PCs have Expertise and great armor? Your villain can't hurt anyone, so he stops power attacking. Now, what's his hit and damage bonus? Moreover, I don't have the stats in front of me, but it looks like you didn't subtract the Power Attack bonus from the attack roll. Furious Focus helps the first attack, sure. But I don't remember the bonus being +12/+4. Next, you say he lets his minions handle combat for a few rounds if there's no one to abduct. What does he do then? I doubt the paladin or fighter are going to lest your man hang out for a few rounds while they focus solely on the chaffe.

Finally, how did he get from warped big brother who can't get his sister's face out of his mind, to father with a daughter that sells slaves for him? EVen just one sentence about how he secretly killed her mom after his daughter turned out to look nothing like his sister would give us more creepy we can count on, instead of having to fill in the spaces for you.

I think a Superstar villain is exciting, re-occuring and has a reputation that precedes him. I more think your ranger is a one-off encounter while the PCs are between destinations. There's not enough info to support anything else.

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

Steven T. Helt wrote:
Third, why is he a ranger? Did he take a job as a forest rescue guy, and one day realized he didn't have to bring missing children back?

*points to urban ranger in the stat block"

Urban rangers aren't woodsy. In fact:
At 1st level, an urban ranger adds Disable Device and Knowledge (local) to his list of class skills and removes Handle Animal and Knowledge (nature) from his list of class skills.

Scarab Sages

Steven T. Helt wrote:
Third, why is he a ranger?...Wanting to add favored enemy to your stat block is not a good reason to choose the archetype.

There's a large number of players out there who'd disagree with that; who believe the classes are formalized skill packages, to be taken to mechanically build the PC concept you want.

Objecting to someone taking ranger 'for the favored enemy' makes as much sense as berating another player for picking wizard 'because they wanted to cast spells'. Well, DUH.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Steven T. Helt wrote:
Fourth, stat blocks: normally, you wouldn't see Power Attack already figured into the presented stat. It makes more work to un-figure your plan than to figure it. Suppose half my PCs have Expertise and great armor? Your villain can't hurt anyone, so he stops power attacking. Now, what's his hit and damage bonus?

Hi, Steven. You make some good points in your critique, but I wanted to call this out, here. Paizo is inconsistent with what elements are and are not already factored into a stat block. Just a few hours ago, I was prepping a PFS scenario where the villain's stat block included the effects of two spells that she would cast, if given prep time before the combat.

I share your concerns: what if the party surprises her? It leads to a sudden mess while the DM recalculates a lot. But we shouldn't ding a contestant for following Paizo examples.

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

Fellas: Thanks for your comments. Certainl;y my feedback is based on my (somewhat less than vast, at this point) experiences in design, and on what I'd like to see in published material.

I guess I'd argue that the villain doesn't explain the urban ranger gig any more than it explains any other class. My point was that the guy's career clearly indicates a study of gnomes and halflings, including how to hunt and kill them. And no material to support or exlpain how he came by those choices.

And I get the idea that a class is a package of acquired abilities, but I think also that a class is a direction. Why did dude take this direction? Did he start out looking for lost kids and realized he could just kill a kidnapper and keep one for himself? I think it's still ill-defined.

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

I like Varstrius. He's creepy, he's tragic, and he's warped his poor daughter into helping him with his dirty deeds and dark obsession.

This one has potential in my opinion.

Voted!

~Dean

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Seabyrn wrote:
Why not human children? Or children of any other race?

Because Paizo (rightly, since it's a cheap and easy emotional tactic as well as really fairly tasteless) has said that violence against children is verboten in their product.

There are better and more elegant ways to evoke emotion than going after the kids. I expect better from a Superstar-- and here he sidesteps targeting children by using an adult proxy, halflings and gnomes.

-Ben.


Artus Nemati wrote:

Varstrius, Connoisseur of Living Dolls

Description:
Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved little sister Sulliana to death. Unable to fight back, Varstrius's agony and rage festered into the insane obsession he carries to this day. Varstrius blindly attempts to regain his lost sister by capturing small folk in Cassomir and dressing them up as gross parodies of Sulliana.

Varstrius stands at an unimposing five and a half feet tall, his hardy body beginning to show his age. He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.
Motivations/Goals:
Varstrius is consumed by one goal: to find a replacement for his departed sister. To that end, he has taken to kidnapping halflings and gnomes, keeping those that have a passing resemblance to Sulliana. His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.
Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:
Varstrius has been careful in collecting living dolls, but sometimes a plan plays out imperfectly.

  • A recent victim's family is actively searching for their missing daughter, and they believe that the last mercenary they hired was close to finding her before his body was found floating in the harbor.
  • A halfling or gnome PC could become Varstrius's next target.
  • Sarrisia was more careless than usual, and the PCs encounter her while she is traveling towards Andor with a wagon full of prisoners.
...

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you (somehow) missed it so far, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a (very advanced) CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness means both the mortals falling off the plank into the lava at the same time, balance is something a succubus weighs herself on against a sack full of bloody archon feathers to check that she hasn’t been overindulging this month, and logic means that it’s never the succubus at fault – always the incompetent idiot of a second-rate hairdresser who is incapable of living up to a succubus’ expectations. Oh: And always remember it’s a succubus’ privilege to change her mind without any warning…
;)

If a sister succubus seduces this villain or a key henchman and things take their course… Well is this villain likely to be good around a young alu-fiend?
Err, no. He's going to dress her up and try to make her into some version of his lost sister. In fact I'm surprised he has a daughter who grew to womanhood... Maybe he was okay (by mortal standards) whilst he had a wife/mistress around, but lost it when she died (or abandoned him when she wearied of his weird obsession over his lost sister, more likely). Anyway, alu-fiends are much too precious to the multiverse (except when they're screaming for attention whilst their aunt is trying to get some work done) to let a man like this anywhere near one.

Should a succubus tip off any organisations as to the identity, location, and/or activities of this person?
This guy's daughter is involved with slavers. Therefore there's probably a link to those sticky-fingered chauvinist party-pooper worshipers of Asmodeus somewhere. So set someone on the trail of Varstrius, and it will lead to the daughter, and sooner or late somewhere along the line a representative of The Prince of Darkness will get a black eye (or at least have to spend a good deal of time and effort extricating him or herself from an embarrassing situation).
Yes. A succubus should definitely tip off someone about Varstrius and what he's up to if at all convenient.

How much money would I lend this person?
I would require an exceedingly ulterior motive to consider lending money to this person.

Other comments? (including fruitcake rating where appropriate)
Some details on how Varstrius keeps his 'dolls' would have been useful. In the event that I were for some reason obliged to serve as a consultant for him, I'd advise him to team up with a medusa to 'preserve' the specimens for him he wanted to keep around.
Fruitcake Rating:
Abducting 'little people' so he can dress them up as his deceased sister earns Varstrius a rating of only a single currant bun when it comes to insanity. I have no doubt that that sort of behaviour is a bit over the top in the context of a mortal, but I've known Abyssal Lords with obsessions much crazier and more directly dangerous to anyone around.

Rating on the Gulga-Bracht supersuccubus scale of villainy:
2 (person not quite sufficiently motivated to rate as a petty criminal or equivalent)

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (still with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would once again like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Urizen wrote:
If there were a 'mature' line of modules, this is your guy who's going to be the (tragic) villain.

In my opinion, there's nothing tragic about this one.

He faced a loss, and rather than trying to move beyond it in a misguided way, or trying to exact revenge on his sister's killer, he focused on trying to recreate the static replica of his sister by destroying other lives-- an illusion, hell, a shadow conjuration, or a dream spell-- a resurrection wasn't good enough for him, he is deluded and twisted.

My problem is that this is more of a thug. A creepy thug, a serial killer, but limited in scope.

-Ben.


terraleon wrote:
Urizen wrote:
If there were a 'mature' line of modules, this is your guy who's going to be the (tragic) villain.

In my opinion, there's nothing tragic about this one.

He faced a loss, and rather than trying to move beyond it in a misguided way, or trying to exact revenge on his sister's killer, he focused on trying to recreate the static replica of his sister by destroying other lives-- an illusion, hell, a shadow conjuration, or a dream spell-- a resurrection wasn't good enough for him, he is deluded and twisted.

My problem is that this is more of a thug. A creepy thug, a serial killer, but limited in scope.

-Ben.

I can see where you're coming from with regard to what fantasy staples are available, but I'm approaching it more from the psychosis. Sometimes your mind just breaks and you just can't see the rational course of action to take to resolve this issue with the path of least resistance. All of this occurring from a loss that was so personal to him that he had never fully recovered. Hence the tragedy.

We may just have to agree to disagree on this one. :)


I like the concept. I like the motivation of finding a replacement for his sister. My first thought was that he was creating soulbound dolls from the Bestiary 2 as replacements.

You lost me when I read His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.

I keep thinking that if he's so obsessed with having his little sister back "if he has a daughter, wouldn't he use her as a replacement?"

It seems like he would do something (like trap her soul in a soulbound doll) to keep her from growing up so that she can be his sister.


First thought, "where's the [net]?" Seriously, this guy captures small folk by running them over and thwacking them with the flat of his bastard sword once they are on the ground?

Swamp Druid wrote:

I like the concept. I like the motivation of finding a replacement for his sister. My first thought was that he was creating soulbound dolls from the Bestiary 2 as replacements.

You lost me when I read His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.

I keep thinking that if he's so obsessed with having his little sister back "if he has a daughter, wouldn't he use her as a replacement?"

It seems like he would do something (like trap her soul in a soulbound doll) to keep her from growing up so that she can be his sister.

Not necessarily. Especially if you assume a rather sick Freudian thing with his sister the an unintended daughter wouldn't be hard to explain him basically ignoring. Getting past the "wrong thoughts..." For a start may haps his daughter looks nothing like his dead sister. Just look around an extend family, when it comes to nieces and nephews you can get a very wide variance.

The background is and motivation is twisted but good.

======

No, what surprises me is that he is a strictly non-magical villain in methods. I almost expect him to have a drow fleshwarper on staff going forward, because ya gotta do something about shrinking those gnome heads. Maybe a witch doctor would do instead.

I'm not thrilled with the stat block, as other have pointed out. The feats are good but the weapon choices seem odd to me for capture and subdue. Good you noted him taking the -4 for nonleathal damage, and once he hits 12th level I'd give him a merciful weapon. What I really expected to see was more impairment items, nets, tangle foot bags, bolas, etc. Tactically his first move would be to net or tangle foot bag a "small folk" and then put down the "small one's" guards.

Ditch the dagger, give him a masterwork net.

I like will likely vote for this, even though I don't want to pass you for poor missed choices in the stat block, because I'm not getting much vibe off most of the other entires thus far. You may live on pure twisted villainy if not your mechanical execution.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

This isn't doing it for me, possibly because I can't help but compare him to Jon Irenicus (and really, what badguy wouldn't come up wanting there?)

I'll come back to this.

Star Voter Season 6

terraleon wrote:
Seabyrn wrote:
Why not human children? Or children of any other race?

Because Paizo (rightly, since it's a cheap and easy emotional tactic as well as really fairly tasteless) has said that violence against children is verboten in their product.

There are better and more elegant ways to evoke emotion than going after the kids. I expect better from a Superstar-- and here he sidesteps targeting children by using an adult proxy, halflings and gnomes.

-Ben.

Well this is annoying. I just spent half an hour composing a reply, and the messageboards gave me an error and ate it. The one time I didn't ctrl-c the text before I posted a long response..... grrr. I'll try to recreate it (well, it's not as eloquent as it was the first time, but here's the gist of it).

I can certainly understand that Paizo does not want to go that route, and I agree with that (I alluded to this in my post above). That said, the concept here makes children a natural target for this villain. I would have preferred to see the concept tweaked a bit to avoid this altogether, rather than substituting a proxy, which to me weakens the concept and is less Superstar than a tighter concept that doesn't include either a proxy or violence against children.

For example, maybe his mother was murdered instead of his sister. His mother collected dolls, and abused him by dressing him up like a doll and forcing him to sit with her collection. She was murdered by gnomes/halflings (mafia-like doll makers/models?), and they broke all her dolls too. Now he's psychotic and is out for revenge, and recreates his mother's broken dolls, with her still directing the action in his head as he dresses up and joins them. That to me seems like a better justification for him targeting adult gnomes/halflings than that they are simply childlike, a proxy that is necessitated (in part)* because (by external fiat) children are off-limits.

(My previous post may not have been clear, it was brief. I did not mean to suggest that either Paizo or a Superstar designer should create or support a product that includes violence against children. But I do think that this villain's concept includes that as a natural inference that the intended audience could easily make. So why not tweak the concept (Superstar), rather than using a mechanically interesting/appropriate but non-subtle proxy for children (not Superstar)?

*I get it that it also works for the Ranger's favored enemy, but I'd rather the mechanics follow more naturally from the concept than they do here


Varthanna wrote:
Stuart Hobbs wrote:

+1 from me

I couldn't agree more, I have no problem with a judge being critical and strict about what they're expecting but I also expect them to be consistent about it. Instead I'm seeing a lot of swingy scoring and blunt comments that come across like this was just phoned in.

Going back and reviewing all of Ryan Dancey's (I dont even know who this person is, frankly), it shows a rather concieted "I'm better than this" attitude and a very poor grasp of the rules and what is already published by Paizo... he was berrating someone last round for not having an animal companion as a druid, when even the core druid may not have an animal companion.

+1

Star Voter Season 6

One more small comment - I certainly do think that this is one of the best villains this round, and I voted for it on its merits. My issues with it are minor, and for me are not a fatal flaw.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

It's a deliciously twisted concept. Involving his daughter in his crimes puts the finishing touch to his festering madness.

I wonder if this was the best portrait (its expression, which might suggest a possessive leer, seems like something else to me) and I think I'd like to see this as a multiclass character. For someone of unimposing physique, Strength is still his best ability score. Those are probably pretty arbitrary reactions, though.

His animal companion is a throwaway reference that doesn't really contribute. I think using his hunter's bond to benefit his hirelings and, especially, Sarrissia could have been a better choice.

The Exchange Star Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

I do like the basic concept of this one, but right away I caught hints of Trinity ( Dexter S4 ) in his background, and it looks like I am not the only one who saw this. Still, I like the idea behind this one, and I think it is going into my YES pile. Nicely done and good luck on Monday.

Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

I like this villain. I enjoy his description and motivation and methods, even though I dislike the choice of ranger for his class (it seems too metagamey- I like the abilities the Urban Ranger has- as opposed to the character's description and history actually fitting the role/archetype).

Voting for it, though, based on the story, not the stats.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

Artus Nemati wrote:
Varstrius, Connoisseur of Living Dolls

I had just a small problem with this name and the use of "Connoisseur". Typically a connoisseur is a judge of something, but Varstrius is a actually a doll maker.

I'm splitting hairs, but I think creepier names are out there for you, somewhere.

Artus Nemati wrote:

Description:

Forty years ago, a helpless Varstrius watched as his drunken stepfather strangled his beloved little sister Sulliana to death. Unable to fight back, Varstrius's agony and rage festered into the insane obsession he carries to this day. Varstrius blindly attempts to regain his lost sister by capturing small folk in Cassomir and dressing them up as gross parodies of Sulliana.

Varstrius stands at an unimposing five and a half feet tall, his hardy body beginning to show his age. He hides the pain of his loss by constantly wearing an arrogant sneer on his face.

At first I start to pity your villain, and then that pity turns to disgust. Not bad for one paragraph, however I have mixed feelings about the last sentence, "constantly wearing an arrogant sneer". Nobody is constantly anything.

If you could soften this a bit to something like, "Varstrius is rarely seen without an arrogant sneer, expressed only to hide his painful loss". (But better.) +1

Artus Nemati wrote:

Motivations/Goals:

Varstrius is consumed by one goal: to find a replacement for his departed sister. To that end, he has taken to kidnapping halflings and gnomes, keeping those that have a passing resemblance to Sulliana. His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.

This could very easily turn silly if the rest of the supporting adventure is not handled grimly enough. My players could burst into a room and find a gnome in curly ringlets and a frilly dress -- laughter ensues and the mood is lost. Also, what's with the daughter? She's a distraction that could end up humanizing the creep you just made for us. How about just a bunch of henchmen that do the "usual things" with kidnap victims, but one or two victims go to the boss and his odd penchant?

Artus Nemati wrote:

Schemes/Plots/Adventure Hooks:

Varstrius has been careful in collecting living dolls, but sometimes a plan plays out imperfectly.
  • A recent victim's family is actively searching for their missing daughter, and they believe that the last mercenary they hired was close to finding her before his body was found floating in the harbor.
  • A halfling or gnome PC could become Varstrius's next target.
  • Sarrisia was more careless than usual, and the PCs encounter her while she is traveling towards Andor with a wagon full of prisoners.

The lead-in sentence is excellent and having three options is perfect. +1

Artus Nemati wrote:
[STAT BLOCK]

Yes, this is a stat block competition, but I'm not a numbers cruncher. I just want something that's close to correct and that makes it easy for me to GM when combat happens.

To that end, I don't see anything too complex here and you didn't fall into the trap of loading him up with nonessentials. But two questions:

1. Why not have a better means of capturing the little folk, other than cracking them on the head?

2. Why kill everyone else? Big people bring money at the slave markets too, and you have to pay those mercenaries somehow.

A twisted villain that toes the line of too weird.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8 aka Benchak the Nightstalker

This is one of my two favorite entries this round, absolutely voting for it!


There are a couple of things bothering me about this entry.

Artus Nemati wrote:


Motivations/Goals:
Varstrius is consumed by one goal: to find a replacement for his departed sister. To that end, he has taken to kidnapping halflings and gnomes, keeping those that have a passing resemblance to Sulliana. His daughter, Sarrisia, sneaks any unwanted prisoners out of the country and sells them to slavers.

Why does he kidnap them if he doesn't want them? You stated that they look like his sister. Furthermore, if he is not motivated by money, it would be more believable to have Varstrius kill the unwanted "dolls" and dump them in a river, or bury them in the wilderness or his back yard. Selling them as slaves means transporting them, greatly increasing the risk that he will be found out.

Artus Nemati wrote:


During Combat Varstrius allows his hired mercenaries to engage potential threats for a few rounds before entering the fray, but he will immediately enter combat after casting his spells if one of the opponents is a halfling or gnome.

This stretches believability even further. Violent serial criminals nearly always work alone. Occasionally, they will have one, or even more rarely, multiple accomplices. However, these are almost always relatives or very close friends. What they don't do is hire random thugs to help them fulfill some weird doll fetish. If these "mercenaries" are evil enough to help a crazed kidnapper, what's keeping them from blackmailing Varstrius until he is dirt poor, then turning him in (possibly for a reward), or killing him once the money train stops? Would they continue to protect him once the PCs confronted Varstrius? I don't think so.


Wow... you made the pedophile villian. Maybe you didn't intend this but that was my first impression.

No vote.


There´s absolutely no suggestion of that, whether using halflings/gnomes as stand-in´s or not.
´Dressing them up as gross parodies of Sulliana´ (his murdered sister) is the only mention of what he does with his victims.
That´s not pedophilia, nor something that I believe most pedophiles are interested in.
I mean, if he so creeped you out, that you were compelled to imagine how much MORE evil he could be, sure, I can see imagining that (or the plurality of OTHER sick s~#$ people have suggested in this thread, e.g. with his daughter), but that doesn´t have a basis in his actual entry.

Shadow Lodge

DP Smith wrote:

Wow... you made the pedophile villian. Maybe you didn't intend this but that was my first impression.

No vote.

This speaks more to YOU, than to the villain. He has nothing to do with pedophilia. That is a very slippery slope you are on.

Did someone close to you die?
YES

Were they younger than 18?

YES

Do you love them and miss them terribly?

YES

YOU ARE A PEDOPHILE

???


Sort of creepy and I get what you're going for with the concept. However, and this is a fairly subjective thing, not what I would want to include in a session I was running at my table. I'm not sure where that line is as I've done serial killers adventures and other grisly stuff but I wouldn't go for this.
Still good luck.


I see that I have struck a note with some people. My comment was rather curt so allow me to clarify.

Quandary wrote:

There´s absolutely no suggestion of that, whether using halflings/gnomes as stand-in´s or not.

´Dressing them up as gross parodies of Sulliana´ (his murdered sister) is the only mention of what he does with his victims.
That´s not pedophilia, nor something that I believe most pedophiles are interested in.
I mean, if he so creeped you out, that you were compelled to imagine how much MORE evil he could be, sure, I can see imagining that (or the plurality of OTHER sick s~*% people have suggested in this thread, e.g. with his daughter), but that doesn´t have a basis in his actual entry.

And thats the problem, he doesn't say WHAT he does to his victims (beyond the dressing up). There is obviously more because there is no mention of what he does with them between the dressing up and disposing. Leaving a grey area like this is very dangerous for this villian. People will fill this gap with however they interprete it. As is, this villian could never be published because of this. If one person on a message board reads this and says "H'm...thats sounds a lot like a pedophile" then there would be hundreds, thousands of people in the general public who would see the same thing. If this grey area had been filled then I would see this villian differently ( I have no delusion in my mind that he was intended to read this way ), but as is it's a glaring oversight.

Varthanna wrote:


DP Smith wrote:

Wow... you made the pedophile villian. Maybe you didn't intend this but that was my first impression.

No vote.

This speaks more to YOU, than to the villain. He has nothing to do with pedophilia. That is a very slippery slope you are on.

Did someone close to you die?
YES

Were they younger than 18?

YES

Do you love them and miss them terribly?

YES

YOU ARE A PEDOPHILE

???

Haha, flame bait if I ever saw it. But I'll bite.

Saying he has nothing to do with pedophilia is like saying going around your neighborhood, handing out candy from a windowless white van to children has nothing to do with pedophila. However innocent your reasons, people are going to see it that way.

Your slippery slope argument is also absurd, as you are missing the key point:

Do you go around town kidnapping "little folk" to dress up as your dead sister, and then keep around doing SOMETHING with them until you grow bored and sell them into ( more perminant ) slavery?

YES? THEN YOU ARE A PEDOPHILE!

As I said above, he doesn't say what he does with them once he dresses them up. It's not a function of my character or the character of anyone else. Unfortunatly we live in a time when the sexual abuse of minors is in the lime light. These themes are prevalent in our daily lives, regardless of whether or not we want them to be. In the future please attack my arguements over my character.

I want to be clear, I do not think that Artus intended this. It probably never crossed his radar, or maybe the word count worked into it and he hoped it wouldn't be seen this way. However when writting for a public audience one needs to stop and think of all the ways their work could be interpreted.


I was pretty careful to deal with your argument and not your character,
since that is tied into the reason I felt it important to respond in the first place.
I agree that Varthanna´s insinuation wasn´t particularly helpful.

In any case, you ARE the first and only person to mention this at all, so your hundreds or thousands of other people thinking the same thing are another product of your imagination at this point...
´Grey area´ material has in fact been touched on in Paizo APs, so I don´t know if that´s a mark against him for a contest run by Paizo and whose reward is writing an adventure for them. Earlier commenters indeed expounded on how they imagined/were scared to imagine how much more evil he was, but they didn´t happen to ´go´ where you went, nor did they express this ´ominous imagination of further evil´ as something against the author/entry, rather they found it powerful and compelling.

The character is explicitly NOT targetting children, nor is any past or present interest in such expressed. Perhaps that would match the Villain´s idolization of his lost sister, so he doesn´t want to target actual children. Conflating your imagined sexual crimes against halflings/gnomes with pedophilia also seems further problematic, because it means Golarion humans can´t ´like´ halflings/gnomes without being pedophiles by your book. It might be an unusual relationship, but I don´t really see why that should be avoided by Paizo. Hell, the existence of halflings/gnomes PERIOD, as ´child-like´ beings who nonetheless have sexual relations with WHOEVER would seem too controversial by your book, but I REALLY don´t think Paizo is going to drop halflings/gnomes, or make them utterly sexless beings.

Anyhow, I don´t really like discussing this subject, so I will leave it at that.
Everybody can read what his entry actually says.

Dark Archive

I'd love to kill this villain, good job I say! I think most of us have enough imagination to take this to a whole creepy new level. ;o) There's a lot you could do with this guy to make good storyline.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Jason Rice wrote:
This stretches believability even further. Violent serial criminals nearly always work alone. Occasionally, they will have one, or even more rarely, multiple accomplices. However, these are almost always relatives or very close friends. What they don't do is hire random thugs to help them fulfill some weird doll fetish. If these "mercenaries" are evil enough to help a crazed kidnapper, what's keeping them from blackmailing Varstrius until he is dirt poor, then turning him in (possibly for a reward), or killing him once the money train stops? Would they continue to protect him once the PCs confronted Varstrius? I don't think so.

This is why you should always, always, ALWAYS recruit through the Minion Guild.

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Nicolas Quimby wrote:
This is why you should always, always, ALWAYS recruit through the Minion Guild.

We represent

the Min-i-on Guild
the Min-i-on Guild
the Min-i-on Guild
and in the name of
the Min-i-on Guiiiiiiiild
We'd like to welcome you
to Half-ling Land!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka Anry

gbonehead wrote:
Nicolas Quimby wrote:
This is why you should always, always, ALWAYS recruit through the Minion Guild.

We represent

the Min-i-on Guild
the Min-i-on Guild
the Min-i-on Guild
and in the name of
the Min-i-on Guiiiiiiiild
We'd like to welcome you
to Half-ling Land!

Sang that out loud I did. Many strange looks.


Congrats. I like this villain. I am somewhat disturbed at how poorly some of the judges read it - we're down to only 16 entries, but it seems like they really read fast through it to misunderstand the things they did.


Congrats!


Esmea-Shyva wrote:
Venerax wrote:
Kinda reminds me of the true blood alchemist? from Fullmetal Alchemist.. i may be mistaken on the name because i haven't seen it in a while but yes...creating living dolls of his daughter...who by his own fault was dead. Creepy....
Oh yeah, the Sewing Life Alchemist! He WAS creepy!

YEAH!!! that was it.....friggan creepy S.O.B.....


Artus Nemati wrote:
Varstrius, Connoisseur of Living Dolls

Artus, please accept my apologies for mis-remembering the details of your entry's backstory. I mis-read my notes when writing my critique. I'm happy my error did not affect your advancement to Round 4.

RyanD


Varthanna wrote:


Going back and reviewing all of Ryan Dancey's (I dont even know who this person is, frankly), it shows a rather concieted "I'm better than this" attitude [snip]

Oh, he's a somebody in the industry.

But I have to say that while Mr. Dancey's apology for his error is certainly a classy thing to do, his critiques have definitely lost ALL credibility with me for the remainder of this contest.

Good job catching this, roguerouge, and Roshan & others for being vocal about this. You may have helped Artus more than you know, since he was bound by the rules of the contest and unable to speak on his own behalf.

Congrats on making it to the next round, Artus.

--DP

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka Tolroy

Hey guys,

First off, thank you very much for all the discussion over Varstrius. Even as I kept silent during the voting, I would return here often to try and glean insight from your criticism.

Here are a few comments that I think should be made.

  • Ouch. I messed up on the Andoran issue. I will have to watch out not to butcher the I.P.s of those I am essentially being interviewed by in the future.
  • I now realize how important one word can make to the clarity of an entire entry. I should have wrote, "Sarrisia was more careless than usual, and the PCs encounter her while she is smuggling prisoners through Andoran." This would have made it clear that she was not trying to sell the slaves in Andoran.
  • To Ryan Dancey- Apology accepted. There can be no grudges when there was no ill will.
  • To those of you who came to my aid when I could not defend my work- You helped me sleep at night. Thank you.
  • The biggest hurdle I had with Varstrius was separating him from his surroundings and encounter. Much of how I would show players how he treats his dolls would come from the descriptions I gave of his hideout, and a few villainous ideas I had for his tactics ended up being too location sensitive.

I thank everyone again, and I hope you all like my Round 4 entry.


So that means we will be getting a top-notch Varstrius encounter? :-)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8 aka Tolroy

Quandary wrote:
So that means we will be getting a top-notch Varstrius encounter? :-)

That really depends if one of the other contestants chose to use him. The rules said we could not choose our own villain. We'll see on Tuesday if someone chose to make an encounter around Varstrius.

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