By - October 10, 2009 - 7 Comments

Big Bad Good Guy… Wait, What?

Bad At Being Good

The reoccurring bad guy, that nemesis that always comes back no matter how many times they are beaten or the looming threat of great evil that plagues the land. Campaigns need a villain and we love to hate them. However, the rest of the world doesn’t have to hate them, they may even love them. A campaign can change very quickly when your players find their allies and resources vanishing before their eyes.

Here are some ideas for big bad good guys.

The Not So Good Guy

Born into a noble family of paladins who serve the imperial navy, Darius had a privileged childhood and no expense was spared in his teachings. A master swordsman and sailor, Darius was taught by expert tacticians and generals. His abilities are only equaled by his arrogance and impatience, anyone that does not require his respect are often humiliated and mocked openly. Always well groomed and dressed in the finest cloth, Darius holds the station of a paladin of Pelor. However, his divine powers are not from the god of the Sun, but from a warlocks pact made during his paladin training. Whilst reading forbidden texts that spoke of two demonic brothers who were trapped within the Abyss, Darius sought out a ritualistic audience with both Dublus and Caan. These demonic brothers ruled the seas for millennia before they were banished to their abyssal prison and that power over the ocean is what Darius desired above nobility, honor and respect. Currently serving as the lieutenant within the imperial navy, Darius is stationed at the empire’s frontier township of Arlius Bay. Under the ever-watchful eyes of his father, commodore Kalt, Darius slowly enacts his vile plans.

The Demonic Brothers

Resembling a mighty Balor, Dublus is the elder of the demonic brothers. His gigantic frame crackles with bolts of lightning that fork out over his imposing wings and razor sharp fins that cover his body. Thick muscle-bound arms end in webbed claws that feature viciously curved talons that drip with poison.

Dublus ruled the waves of the oceans, calling upon powerful tsunamis and squalls to ruin coastal towns and cities merely for his amusement. Worshiped by a deranged and savage cult of Sahaugin that are rumored to still inhabit some remote islands of the world.

An enormous jet-black leviathan, Caan’s gigantic serpentine body is covered in glands that secret a blood colored oil that sends marine life into an unstoppable feeding frenzy. Caan lives in a similar blood lust that is only quelled for short periods of time through destruction and feeding, his brother being the only creature able to quiet the mighty demon for extended periods of time.

Below the waves Caan reigned supreme, constantly sinking vessels with conjured maelstroms. Anyone unfortunate enough to enter the ocean during a maelstrom attack was quickly devoured, either by the demon itself or the large schools of dominated sea predators that followed the demon constantly. During times of reduced sea travel by the surface dwellers Caan, tormented nearby merfolk kingdoms, simply for the minor satisfaction it brought him.

Imperial Navy

The imperial navy acts as protector, ruler and provider for the people of Arlius Bay. With most officers being paladins of Pelor and many clerics amongst the ranks, life in the frontier land is made much easier for the townsfolk. The navy are not only responsible for the town and its people, they also patrol the surrounding waters and trade route back to the empire. Skirmishes occur often with a vicious tribe of Sahaugin that continually pester the fishing vessels near Arlius Bay. In deeper waters pirate vessels have been encountered sailing from the north, their origins are yet to be discovered.

Commodore Kalt resides over his armada and the people of Arlius Bay. A very pious and proud man, Kalt is highly respected and places the safety and well being of Arlius Bay above all things. Mature of age the commodore is still the greatest weapon master, sailor and tactician within the navy, his only true weakness is his blind faith in his son. The fiendish behavior of his son has gone completely unnoticed by Kalt who sees his son as unable of any wrongdoing. Darius has openly showed disrespect for his father and other superiors, assaulted commoners and shown arrogance and disobedience in regard to naval orders. All these actions go unnoticed by his father but a small group of paladins are beginning to question the behavior of the commodore’s son.

Life On The Frontier

Discovering the land of Tralis over eighteen years ago the empire founded a town on the foreign land nearly ten years ago. Arlius Bay has flourished and grown steadily over the years and, as stories of lost ruins and sunken treasure reach the empire, adventurous souls have converged upon the town. Some find fame and fortune, while others meet a quick and grizzly end. Those not so adventurous have taken to a life of fishing and spice farming. The hilled terrain around the town creates a natural barrier to the unexplored wilds of Tralis but leaves little room for agriculture. Bare essentials are often farmed on the cultivated islands that lie off the coast. Traders and merchants from different lands often visit Arlius Bay, many paying extravagant prices for the spices grown there. Over seventy islands have been navigated around the coastline of Arlius Bay and over the past ten years only twelve have been explored. Of those, eight are used as cultivated farmland, while two twin peaked islands known to the locals as the Serpent Twins are heavily avoided. These islands are home to a savage group of Sahaugin who often raid fishing vessels that stray to close. Rumors often circulate amongst the populace of another town, established years ago to the north of Arlius Bay. According to folklore, the town disappeared without a trace. The navy, who claim to have sailed past the northern tip of the coastline, has intensely denied these rumours.

Plans Of A Good Bad Guy

Recently discovering the lost temple of Dublus and Caan on the Serpent Twins, Darius spends anytime he can searching amongst the ruins for two lost relics of the demon lords. The Sahuagin tribe sense his connection to their master Dublus and let him pass freely at all times. Darius often becomes frustrated with his father and superiors when called to duty away from his personal goals. During this time, Darius is openly irritated and will arrest and detain anyone he desires. Adventurers who witness his passing through Sahuagin territory unscathed are not believed by either the public or the navy and find themselves marked as criminals.

After scouring the temple on the Serpent Twins, Darius finds the relics of Dublus and Caan. Granted incredible power from the relics, the warlock uses them to convert crewmen of his vessel into demonic thralls. No longer being content with operating under the orders of his father, Darius assassinates Kalt and places the blame squarely upon a group of ‘criminals’ he hasn’t dealt with yet. Assuming control of the navy with forged imperial documents, Darius begins the next phase of his plan, to unleash Dublus and Caan upon the material realm. However, within the navy a small group of concerned paladins grows.

As Dublus and Caan are released from their prisons, Darius double crosses them and draws their essence into the relics he found within the temple. Nearing immortality, Darius corrupts the majority of Arlius Bay and slays any that oppose his will. Adventurers who stand before this grand threat do so alone and in constant danger. One last objective remains for the demonic paladin, a ritual that will permanently place the essence of the Dublus and Caan within Darius, granting him immortality as a demon lord and total control over the seas of the world.

Do you use reoccurring villains? Who or what was your most memorable nemesis? What was your favourite confrontation with a bad guy?

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Written by Scott

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  1. Dan says:

    Now that sounds like the great basis of a fantastic campaign!

  2. Scott says:

    @Dan, Thanks, feel free to use whatever you want from it.

  3. ColoQ says:

    My “Good Bad guy” was Knight-Captain Fayreth Rengauld. The party first started obtaining notes and other things constantly signed with KCFR, When they finally pieced together that KCFR was the son of the Goodly lord of the region, it was a special day for me. Here is KCFR’s backstory and some ideas…

    Fayreth, Son of the reknowned peacemaker Duke Ellmen Rengauld grew up during the days of his father achieving the “peacemaker” namesake. Ellmen Rengauld, a newly minted lord from long suffering military service arrived to his newly granted lands to find trouble. The duchey was in shambles: the previous Duke driving the commoners and even the local nobles to create their own city states. Ellmen set about the task of unifying his lands, pacifying uprisings, and quelling revolts. He did so with a combination of military might, wisdom, and mercy. His duchy eventually over the years came to love him, if not grudgingly respect him, and Ellmen eventually transitioned his lands into peace and burgeoning prosperity.

    Fayreth resented the days his father spent away from him on his errands of mercy and pacification. When Fayreth’s mother passed away because the Clerics of the Rengauld estate were healing the dying peasants of the opposing factions, Fayreth became enraged. Fayreth never understood his fathers requirements for wisdom, or mercy. He felt that the best way to keep the commoners to heel was to crush them: burn their homes, and send their women screaming into the night cursing the day they sought arms against his family. By the time, Fayreth turned 16, he had vowed never to give in to weakness, never to be struck by the folly of mercy, and never to allow himself to be powerless in any form.

    It was after uttering this vow, that the lesser goddess Talona, harbinger of Poison and Pain, took notice of Fayreth. She would become a greater God, and Fayreth was the key. Fayreth was contacted by agents of Talona, and brought into the priesthood. Given patronage by his newfound deity, Fayreth became the most powerful priest of Talona’s order in just 5 years. Meanwhile, he slowly replaced his father’s guards with those of Talona’s order.

    Fayreth proved his devotion to his Goddess by sacrificing his father to Talona in the altar of a 1,000 year old temple of Pelor: desecrating the place, and turning it into a temple of ruin. This is when Fayreth finally became privy to Talona’s master plan: Fayreth would bring forth the presence of the Goddess on the Prime material plane, and while here she would subjugate the world, forcing it worship only her. She would do what no other God had done before!

    To this end, Fayreth would use his position and wealth to amass an army to subjugate the lands around the Rengauld Estates and begin forcing the commoners to worship Talona. Those who would not were to be imprisoned into soul-presses: magical machines that drained the souls of the imprisoned and stored their power in crystals known as soul-stones for use in foul magical rituals. Finally, Fayreth would call upon the power of the soul stones in the temple of ruin, and place the essence of his Goddess into a suitable mortal vessel. Fayreth chose the daughter of his favorite cousin Elderra Rengauld, who had just announced via letter of being with child.

    Fayreth now has approximately 9 months to accomplish his goals, and will do so with ruthless efficiency.

    Tips, thoughts etc…
    - Don’t rock the Boat. No one knows that the Former Duke Rengauld is dead, and any bucking of the system will result in the goodly and powerful of the area getting upset at you quickly. No one wants another civil war.
    - Who to trust? The beauty of the Goddess of Poison’s plan is that the apple is rotting from within. telling your story to the “cleric of Pelor”, may just get you into more trouble than not.
    - Moves within moves. The same man hiring adventurers to kill all the bandits in an area may be using the party to show off the virtues of Strength, and why the villagers should value the lack of Mercy. He may even be paying the bandits too. The party may inadvertantly *advance* the Big Bad’s schemes by killing the bandits!
    - The bad guys are good. The bandits stealing supplies may just be the freedom fighters needing food. Is your party smart enough to deal with this?
    - Evil isn’t always good for Evil. Evil clerics fear the rumblings their prayers give them about the moves Talona makes. She plans on stealing *their* followers, and messing up *their* plans too. Help will likely come from odd places.
    - I tried to keep the The Rengauld Keep as close to unattainable as possible. There was so much fear about what was housed in this place that when the players finally got there they were paranoid about it.
    - Old Habits die hard. Because of Ellmen’s mercy the leaders of the revolt from 20 years ago are still alive or their children remember the battle their father didn’t come home from. Should your players assist in the revolution? Pacify it? Focus on Rengauld, and let the Nobles sort it out?
    - Alignment matters. Lawful Good Palladins or clerics should have problems offing the local head of state. Even if he technically is poisoning the well by preaching Evil deeds. Lawful Evil folks should have issues killing off someone in power that they have leverage against.

  4. ColoQ says:

    @Scott Inspiring post on your part. Well done.

  5. Scott says:

    @ColoQ, Thanks

    There are some really good ideas with KCFR. I might have to borrow some for my next campaign if that is ok with you?

    Scott

  6. ColoQ says:

    Sure, take ‘em and go. Why else would I post it???

  7. Mark says:

    Neat article. I got directed to it via the Best of 2009 email I received today. I’m reminded of the racist evangelist and his paladin cohort I introduced to my players in a campaign I ran a few years ago. If anyone’s interested, I posted their stats here: http://www.enworld.org/forum/3695683-post35.html

    Happy New Year!

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