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.
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?