The third round of RPG Superstar 2009 is to redo your villain and add a stat block. I have to say, I do not have the patience to wade through stat blocks, but let’s see who improved their villain and do a top level check for awesomeness.
Sharina, Legend Singer (Female human bard 6)
The bard who gives the party fame and danger to leverage fame for herself. She’s not that much changed in fluff, but she’s grown on me in that I’ve internalized that there’s more description of her schemes beyond “she starts a war!” I don’t think she was perfect enough not to brush up the fluff. The writer uses a few more commas than good grammar can stand. Stat block’s OK but unremarkable. I approve of trying a low level villain, though. Overall she’s decent but I would hesitate to say Superstar material. 5/10.
Kar-En-Helit, Vessel of Moeris (Male human ghost wizard 18 )
This guy’s totally reworked and I liked the previous fluff better. Now he’s a guy who’s waiting to ensoul his Osirian god-emperor ancestor ghost. Concept’s fine, but the execution is a little confusing. Especially as it splits focus between before he emerges and after, and there’s not enough info on either. As for the stat block, I’m pretty confused about what are Kar-En-Helit’s stats, what are Moeris’ stats, and what are the stats of Moeris-in-Kar-En-Helit. 3/10.
Vashkar, the False Maharajah (Male vampire rakshasa Monk 8/Fighter 1/Eldritch Knight 4) *
Reworked from “generic rakshasa” to “demented vampire rakshasa who kills vampires and rakshasas!” Much, much more interesting. He starts to fall into the trap of not being in enough conflict with the PCs however. The stat block is just huge. I’m not so sure about legitimacy of the Eldritch Knight levels boosting his spellcasting (which is purely racial). Triple class nonhuman with a template may be pushing it complexity-wise. And even for CR20 this is a little buff. AC50, SR40, multiple DRs. 24 special abilities goes over my line for what I’d like to deal with. I think being a vampire rakshasa monk would be more than enough, especially with the new bloodline. But you have to respect biting off such a huge task. 7/10.
Aelfric Dream-Slayer (male human reincarnated wood elf lich druid 15)
Was one of my favorites from last time. He’s a druid who wants to stop an aberrant dream invasion by killing anything that can dream. Fair enough! Fluff slightly reworked and seems not as tight as last round. I feel like the addition of the Rovagug reference is to be gratuitously Golarionesque. And the stat block is kinda messy and error-prone. Hrm. 5/10.
Volner Taint, The Thrice-Damned Disciple (male human lich cleric 11/assassin 4)
He’s a dude who got captured and liched by daemons. Reworked a little from the previous round, removing his layer of guilt motivation, making him way more one-dimensional. Bad move. And his stats don’t really reflect his having been a *good* cleric before getting liched, he seems designed bottom-up for evil lichiness. I do like his “head implanting” plot. 4/10.
Count Falconbridge, Fate’s Adversary (Male human fighter 4/diviner 8/eldritch knight 3) *
I liked this guy OK in the previous round but wanted him to be a little less vanilla. Best as I can tell he didn’t change a word of his fluff, a shame – it was decent but certainly not perfect. His stats are OK if not amazing. The new spell, arcane prediction, is like a magic turn-your-mage-into-a-sorcerer pill and is real cool. 6/10.
Boemundo, Brenno’s Shadow Protector (male wraith fighter 10)
A wraith fighter that protects the city of Brenno, especially from magic. His appellation changed to the lamer – “Unliving Oblivion” was kinda catchy, now he sounds like some kind of athletic supporter. He’s been substantially changed, which is fine because I felt he was a little flat in the previous round, but now he falls into the “where’s the conflict” trap. I can see a bit of the “Hot Fuzz” factor here about some of the locals not minding a protector wraith, but it seems like a party would really have to hang around a lot in this “Brenno” to care much about all this. Interesting NPC, weak villain. 4/10.
Derinogen, Aristocratic Mage (Male human aristocrat 2/transmuter 5) *
A minor noble who is seeking self-improvement through magery and arcane experimentation. Low level and pretty solid. A bit short and could have benefitted from fleshing out the fluff. Doesn’t wow me, but is solid, and thus rises above most of the competition. 6/10.
Malgana the Twistwood Lich (female goblin lich infernal sorcerer 11) *
The goblin lich in bits with the high kewl factor and low practicality factor from last round. The fluff’s updated with newer, better ways to get her into the campaign. I don’t like the change from Witch to Lich though, that’s weak. But the implementation is awesome. The best so far! 8/10.
Lord Jeroim Borloz, the Diamond Dragon (Male dwarf expert 2/monk 13)
An evil dwarf that hung out with a dragon and now is a merchant/criminal mastermind. I’ll be honest, I don’t like him. The whole dragon angle seems pointless. And he suffers from the “if I just say he’s a mastermind, he’s automatically deep” factor. And his plot hook is “he killed a thieves’ guild?” Please. Sorry, there’s just concepts that do it for me and ones that don’t, and this is one I wouldn’t use. Insult to injury in that his stats are very weak and he’d get his face melted by a level 10 party and he’s CR15. 2/10.
Rustin Harp, the Vengeance of Freaks (Male satyr bard 10)
A satyr Lamashtu cultist. Much better than the previous version, and his name butched up too. And the Haunting Melody bard ability is nice. I have to say, I spiked this one in the previous round but now it’s strong. 6/10.
Sartel Bollen, Mistress of the Headless Caravan (Female green hag fighter 1/sorcerer 9) *
A transformed ex-gladiator who now rules a horde of headless zombies! And she’s buff enough for CR10. Nothing not to like. 8/10.
Gurgle Stench, Scion of Cyth-V’sug (male half-fiend otyugh wizard 5/cleric 3/mystic theurge 5 *
A big white poo-beast with delusions of grandeur. I have come to accept this concept somewhat, but a wizard? With spellbooks and everything? I could buy sorcerer maybe… And by splitting between mage and cleric he’s pretty underpowered for a CR17. 4/10.
Ryth’a (Female lizardfolk abyssal bloodline sorcerer 15)
Interesting – a complete change to the daughter of the now-dead Round 2 demon-eating lizardman Ssyth’ek. But she’s straightforward to the point of being boring. Her minions are more diverse, which is nice. But can she really carry a plot (a CR 15 plot)? I don’t really think so. Although I do love haunts. 4/10.
Hecataeus, Master of Constructs (Male human wizard 16) *
A wizard and construct creator who is basically a big arrogant cock-knocker. The concept doesn’t drive me but his stat block is very solid and optimized as a high level wizard would be. Maybe he can kill Bracht (below) and take his backplot. 5/10.
Bracht Darkhouse, the Flesh Peddler (Male human sorcerer 11) *
A pretty creepy flesh sculptor. Pretty unique; he has a normal set of Cthulhu cultist spells but the “Craft Arcane Fleshgraft” ability makes him different. His execution isn’t very tight though, which is disappointing (sorcerer? Little equipment and permanent effects?). 6/10.
Kardam, the Burning Khan (Male human barbarian 11)
A real man’s opponent. Barbarian baby! A Mongol with an artifact, now that’s a problem that says “hide the women and kids.” Not sure why the rest of the judges are so down on him. Sure, his weird eye is an artifact and an “exception” – but those who wrote Rise of the Runelords should not cast stones, as Runelord Kharzoug there had all kinds of “special” stuff no one else can get. When it comes down to it I’d use this guy in a campaign before I’d use 3/4 of the other entries. 7/10.
So for me it’s Vashkel, Malgana, Sartel, and Kardam as the front-runners. What do you think?