My Top Monster Villains

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0752

My Top Monster Villains

The other day I read a blog about the GM’s Top 10 mastermind monster villains. I love this idea! It’s great inspiration.

So today for fun I’m sharing my favourite monster villains with you.

The requirements for my list are I can only list monsters I have GM’d or made adventures for. In some cases I did the prep but the villain did not come into play for some reason.

Here’s the original post over at Hack & Slash.

Monster Villain #5: The Beholder Xanathar

I ran a two-player game during high school. When the Forgotten Realms boxed set came out I bought it right away and chose the Sword Coast as the campaign region, and Waterdeep as the PCs’ home base.

One PC was a rogue-wizard and the other a fighter. The rogue wanted thieves’ guild gameplay, so he soon met up with a guild run by Xanathar.

After many missions inspired by Gord the Rogue books, the duo were powerful enough to take the beholder leader on. And they beat him!

Years afterward, I would have many guilds run by a mysterious hidden leader, and that leader was incarnations of Xanathar.

The villain’s super power was scrying. He’d divine information to compliment his informant network. He always seemed to know what the PCs were up to. And he’d have the best plot hooks.

Monster Villain #4: Rictus the Vampire Clown

In my Riddleport campaign the PCs became agents of Rictus, a local crime boss. Turns out the boss was a vampire clown intent on taking control of the entire pirate city.

The clown was downright scary. He had all the abilities of a vampire. He had a crime syndicate to draw upon, with rogues, thugs, extortionists, and other great people scared enough to obey without question. And he had a cadre of undead lieutenants — ghouls, ghasts, and shadows — he could deploy as spies and muscle.

The PCs eventually freed a female vampire villain who became the Rictus’ bride, making life doubly monstrous for the party.

Monster Villain #3: Wererat Keep Captain

In a campaign that never launched, I used B2: Keep of the Borderlands as the basis. The keep was governed by Captain Slith, a veteran cursed by lycanthropy.

Year agos he infected his wife, and together they rose up through the ranks to eventually run the day-to-day of the guard, defenses, and community.

However, the Captain fell in love with the wife of another villain. He chose not to reveal his feelings because he did not want to infect her. The Captain’s wife knew of this, and she plotted against him.

The PCs were to enter this situation and discover the Keep and region were secretly controlled by a band of wererats headquartered in the Keep’s secret tunnels underneath the castle. The characters were to eventually discover the Captain was a lycanthrope and the leader of the wererats.

(The campaign’s larger premise was Ars Magica meets Underworld. Instead of mage guilds though, it was families of lycanthropes, some good, some evil. And they were waging a war against a terrible, ancient enemy.)

Monster Villain #2: Astrinus the Horned Devil

Back in Riddleport, the PCs owned and operated the Silver Chalice Inn. Their neighbour was a kindly sage who gave them useful information about the city and recent strange happenings.

As the PCs became friendlier with this man, they learned he was actually a follower of the devil lord Asmodeus. They also learned Astrinus was a horned devil himself!

As the campaign went on and the PCs became hard-pressed to survive the crazy events happening in the city, several characters were invited to sign a simple contract with Astrinus.

If a piece of a signee’s body was brought to Astrinus, he would resurrect them. All he asked in return was their soul.

Three PCs signed the contract.

Asmodeus was happy.

Monster Villain #1: Orcus

My all-time favourite villain is a demon lord. What’s not to love about the King of Undead and master of chaos and evil?

Orcus has appeared in every one of my campaigns for the past 12 years. You’d think I’d get sick of him. But he’s the gift that just keeps on giving.

For example, the demon villains running amok right now in my Hobos of the Apocalypse campaign are servants of Orcus.

And Orcus got under the players’ skin in Riddleport with meddling via his number one servant, Rictus.

Before that, Orcus was a major faction leader in my Temple of Elemental Evil game. I brought Orcus into Riddleport because my players developed such a hate-on for him in ToEE. Now he’s a campaign meme with 100% jerk success rate. How about you? What are your favourite monstrous villains and masterminds from past campaigns?