Every adventure needs a villain. There is some truth to that, but I prefer to have several villains. Why several? I like to have at least one major villain who is in charge of several lesser villains. I also like to have at least one major villain who works independently. That includes independently of the major villain with a team of lesser villains. The variety of villains and numbers of them give me and the players options.
From my end, I can introduce several plotlines as an adventure/campaign moves forward and not all of them are caused by “the big bad.” Doing this keeps the campaign fresh, keeps the players guessing, and gives them options. Most pre-made adventures have a tiered system of villains, X level of villain at X point in adventure/campaign. All of the tiers lead to the top villain. Meaning that rarely is something not related to the top villain.
I don’t like that. As a player I have always felt constrained by that design, after all I know that everything is there for a reason and no matter what happens it will tie into the goal of taking out the top villain. It means that my options are limited in a way. That lead me to create multiple villains, at different levels, with different even opposing goals, and let them loose into the game. The players can follow any clue or go where they want and the villains do their thing. If a villain and player character cross paths, such as player characters derailing a villain’s plan, then and only then does a villain take a direct interest in the player characters. Until then, the villain pursues their goals.
More often than not the players will cross paths with a villain. If I am doing my job of providing a fun and interesting place for them to play they most definitely will. However, while the players may cross paths with a villain this does not mean that they will pursue the villain. I leave that up to them. If they don’t, the villain sticks with their plans, and if they have the resources keep an eye on the characters. There have been several villains who players have crossed paths with, not thought much of, moved on and later paid the price because they didn’t take care of. Those are some of the favorite villains. I get to use them again. The illustrate the breath of the campaign world and that player action or inaction has an effect.
To that end I have been working on the first villain for this adventure. At this moment, this villain is minor, but could become a larger villain. All I did was roll dice, consult charts, and get creative.
Tranaxion “The Black Spot” (CR 4)
Red Dragon Wyrmling
Spd 30′ Climb 30′ Fly 60′
Str 21 (+5)
Dex 9 (-1)
Con 17 (+3)
Wis 12 (+1)
Cha 15 (+2)
Saving Throws Dex +1; Con +5; Wis +2; Cha +4
Skills: Perception +4; Stealth +1
Senses: Blindsight 10′; Darkvision 60′; Passive Perception 14
Actions: Bite +6; Reach 5′; 1d10 + 5 piercing plus 1d6 fire damage
Fire Breath (recharge 5-6); 15′ cone; DC 13 Dex Save for 1/2 7d6 fire damage
His lifelong goal is to achieve immortality, current scheme is to steal the soul or essence of a deity. He prefers to use other creatures to accomplish the parts of his scheme. “The Black Spot” got his nickname from a large patch of black scales that covers most of the right side of his skull and partway down his neck. He is stronger than most wyrmlings and revels in displaying his strength to his minions. He also enjoys demonstrations of his strength when angered, which happens often as he is quick to take insult. When alone, “The Black Spot” sings dwarvish ballads, while drinking fine wines from his collection of golden drinking goblets. When talking to others and in control or thinking he strokes his horns.