Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vampire Doppelganger Monk

So basically what I learned today is yes, I was an idiot at sixteen, but gloriously so. I was going through some old files on the desktop I used in high school, and chanced upon some old plans I'd devised for a villain in a campaign I ran during that period. I never made much use of the plans, since the campaign itself ended (due to social fireworks) shortly after I wrote them up, so while I clearly remembered the villain himself, I'd forgotten the bizarre back-story I'd cooked up to explain all the bizarre incidents I'd made up as I went along and only later sat down to justify.

Anyway. I could ramble on for a while about why this is what it is, what came of it, and what didn't, but for now I'm just going to inflict it on the world and be done:

Vampire Doppleganger Monk

This villain is driven by wanderlust. He wants to be able to go where he wants, when he wants, and has a somewhat skewed way of going about with that. He was created to provoke confusion and fear in the players.

This villain is (obviously) a doppelganger, and as such has a certain amount of natural aversion to being stuck in one place for too long. Adding to that, the vampire who originally spawned him imprisoned him for a long time, letting him out of his fortress only occasionally when he had some task he wanted done. This may have lasted a hundred years or so until he was able to kill his progenitor, and the experience probably damaged his psyche permanently.

Not intended as a primary villain, but a pretty major one. Probably threatens most of the desert (eventually) and maybe the area to the north, too, because the only way to really guarantee that he can go anywhere is to control everything.

His eventual plan is to take control of as much of the surrounding area as possible. His immediate goal is to get the windheart, a stone with a variety of magical powers primarily related to movement and useful to him as a monk.

There are a number of obstacles standing between him and the windheart. The first is just finding the thing. It’s hidden, and has been for millennia. The second is defeating the guardians that defend it; the texts he’s working from aren’t terribly specific on this point, but they at least make it clear that there will be some very serious opposition to anyone who tries to take it.

The villain is a manipulator. He is perfectly capable in combat, but his main talents lie in deception and subterfuge. He can take just about any (humanoid) form he wants, and perhaps more importantly, he knows how to use his dominate power to good effect, hiding his involvement behind even more layers of obfuscation than the usual doppelganger.

His resources include the following:
  • Abilities of a 6th level monk
  • Doppelganger shape change ability
  • Any vampires he might spawn
  • Insane sneakiness
  • Supernatural and skill-based manipulation abilities, including disguise, bluff, detect thoughts, and dominate
  • Current minions, mostly the sorcerer (and his minions)
  • Tentative/possible alliance with the yak folk

He’s already completed part of his plan. Years and years ago, he struck a deal with the yak folk sorcerer currently in control of “His Doomificience.” (This particular yak folk had been exiled from his own city, and desperately wanted to reclaim the kind of power and luxury enjoyed by most of his kind. He also doesn’t realize what that the villain is a vampire or a doppelganger, just thinks he’s a helpful sneaky sort of person who wants in on the action.) The found the Tomb of Glass Lore, the place the “sorcerer” (before he was possessed) was sent by the air weird to find, and figured out what it meant—that it led to something that would give them power, and that they should really keep other people from finding out about it. So they built the tower, and the doppelganger convinced various people to come to the town they built, and they sealed off the air weird to keep others from finding out what they had.

What they found was instructions for making the Storm Hand. This is a powerful magical device that allows its creator to control and create powerful dust storms, but it has a second, more hidden purpose. It’s intended as a sort of guidepost to the windheart, and shows the location of that artifact once activated. (The sorcerer doesn’t know this, incidentally. The villain discovered this on his own, while the sorcerer was busy with other things. The sorcerer just thinks they’re going to wreak havoc with it, conquering stuff.) They’ve almost got the Storm Hand; the werewolves should be returning with the final piece any day now. (Which they will do very dramatically, since everyone thinks the sorcerer is running this show, and the sorcerer likes things done dramatically.)

Once they have the Storm Hand, stage two will commence, with the finding and looting of wherever it is that the windheart is kept.


  1. And this is how you were playing in high school? Nice. Now I'm very curious what all you did with yak folk, though I don't expect you to answer that anywhere I could read it. ;)

  2. The format for this document is pretty unusual for me; it's probably the only write-up I ever did in this style, modeled off of an article from Giant in the Playground. For the most part my notes weren't this involved. On the other hand, a lot of my campaign design from this period revolved around villains and villainous schemes, so from that angle it's fairly representative of what I did in other campaigns from the same general period. The good ones, anyway. I ran some games that didn't have as strong a focus on villains, and they tended to be the tepid ones.

    As for yak folk... nope, don't have anything in my notes from that game on them. This game ended no more than a month after I wrote this up, so there really wasn't much more on them than what I'd borrowed from their presentation in the MM2: they live in secret mountain cities, a la Shangri La. (And apparently they kick each other out of them occasionally.) I think I was working on some long term plans involving them and the yuan-ti, but hadn't done much with that at that point.

    Man, now I miss that campaign. It's got me itching to run some straight up dungeon crawlin' D&D, just to see if I can do that kind of thing again and then see where it actually goes.

  3. Very cool villain, but the part that made me smile the widest was seeing that somebody was ACTUALLY using the Yak Folk in a campaign! I always thought about it, but could never quite work them in. I see trollsmyth had the same thought. So I'm a little sad to see in your comment that they still didn't get used. Yak Folk deserve their day!

  4. That is entertaining. :)

    I like your work on the yak folk sorceror. He is an excellent piece of misdirection on the doppelganger's part.

    I pity the doppelganger when he finally realized that ruling that much territory actually limited his movements if he wanted to stay on top.

  5. dave: In Trollsmyth's game they're the terrifying ancient evil that *everyone* is afraid of. "The genie-folk" are one of those upper-tier critters, like dragons, titans, and the more powerful fey, so being able to control them pretty much at will unnerves all other elementals and anyone who regularly deals with elementals.

    PatrickW: Thanks. Yeah, I think this guy had a lot of potential. The basic idea might get recycled in a future game; who knows?